The one-woman indie musical dynamo known as Kat Parsons has been in non-stop motion, her blossoming career in full-scale overdrive, since releasing her recording No Will Power, on March 29. The CD is distributed nationally by Cleopatra/Navarre. The incredible developments of the past few months have been a fascinating payback of sorts for Parsons' growing legion of fans, who, through an arrangement on the artist's part, fully funded the critically acclaimed album.
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In Early Spring 2005, the charismatic, multi-award winning singer/songwriter held four major record release parties in the cities where her fan base-her email list alone totals over 5,000--is most rabid: Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. The demand was so great that she wrote a slight apology on her website, whose "News" section is growing by the day: "Thank you for the sell outs and I'm sorry for those who couldn't get in."
In April, she appeared on the cover of the well-known industry bible, Music Connection Magazine, joining the likes of Shania Twain, Gretchen Wilson, Joss Stone, Phil Ramone and Moby, who have also been the subject of cover stories this year. She was chosen to represent MC's special coverage of DIY Success Stories: Going It Alone & Thriving, which also included a feature on Living Legends. Other recent print media coverage includes articles in Campus Circle, Billboard and The Boston Globe.
Parsons has also been making the rounds of numerous TV stations around the country, including performances on superstation WGN Morning News in Chicago, the San Diego Morning News on KUSI, and Good Morning Arizona. Radio-wise, she was also featured on "Local Licks," on legendary rock station 95.5 KLOS in Los Angeles.
No Will Power was chosen by the hugely popular independent music website, CD Baby, as the "Front Page Editor's Pick," with the comment: "We're REALLY picky about what goes on the front page. We get about 75 albums a day coming in here now (about 30,000 total) and No Will Power is one of the best I've ever heard!", stated CD Baby president Derek Sivers.
The story behind the recording of No Will Power is as fascinating as the talented and charismatic artist herself. When devoted fans from her 5,000-plus email list dogged her for an album to fill the void between her high-voltage performances, Kat asked them to put their money where their mouths were. The deal was sweet - and here's the smart and clever part: for various levels of financial commitment, her dedicated "business partners" (fans) would receive a sound return on their investment.
She set up a pre-ordering system of "creative and hard goods," as she explains it, whereby a $500 contribution, for example, includes four tickets to a No Will Power record release party, four signed concert posters plus a song dedication of their choice during the release party performance and an invitation to sing back up on a song. For $20, an investor receives a personalized, signed copy of the album, and $55 buys three. One thousand dollars immortalizes a supporter in the album credits, and affords them lunch with Parsons.
Fans stepped up and stacked the chips to the tune of more than $18,000 before Parsons ever recorded a note; a gratifying outcome, especially in light of the break-up which fueled this record.
"I got incredible response from my fans," says the L.A.-based performer who's made a significant impact on the independent music scene since the release of Framing Caroline, on Chicago's Waterdog Music. "No Will Power chronicles the unraveling of a romantic relationship at its every stage. It's not necessarily in chronological order. I didn't write it with the idea that it was going to be a record. I wrote it and realized that I needed to do a record," she laughs. "I have a new understanding of love now."
Her fans aren't the only ones who know a great thing when they hear it. Calling to mind a modern day Carole King, her many awards of performance and songwriting recognition include the recent victory as top winner in Acoustic Live, from a field of over 600 of the most talented performers in Southern California and runner-up for "Album of the Year" at the 2005 DIY Music Festival.
She's been featured on XM satellite radio, and on its recent "Radar Report," where her songs dominated the top three most-played slots. Endorsed by Yamaha (who named her an "Influential Emerging Artist") and Audix Microphones, Kat also has appeared in commercials for Baldwin Pianos and Gibson Musical Instruments.
A performer first and foremost, she's not waiting for No Will Power to exert some sonic influence, opting instead to set the stage with a live performance tour that the media describes as "[A] performance that revealed a passion and intimate detail well-suited to a small stage, with a sound big enough to fill an arena."
Parsons' process of emotional recovery has given No Will Power spectacular strength of artistic conviction and popular appeal, making it easy to succumb to the title track (a possible first single), the honesty of "We Deserve More," the brilliant rendering of the standard, "Someone to Watch Over Me," while "To Return to You" is reminiscent of U2 in its epic quality.
Producer Paul Maylone (Junkie XL, Daeva) captured every vocal inflection and each piano and guitar nuance that Parsons relinquishes, while Geza X (Meredith Brooks, Dead Kennedy's) offered his expertise to the tracks. Session performances from her well-credentialed live band include actor Dermot Mulroney playing cello, Matt Taylor (Libbie Schrader, Action Cats), Joe Hauler, Jon Parsons (Kat's brother), guitarist Michael Chaves (John Mayer, Sarah McLachlan, Rufus Wainwright), upright bassist Joe Ayoub (Liz Phair), trumpeter Chris Opperman (Steve Vai, Oppymusic), Robin Goodchild (Sterling), Maurizio Paura, Tim Kelly, and Johnse Holt enhance the acoustic, pop and classical elements that Parsons summons from her lineage and creative experience.
Born in Vienna, Austria to esteemed opera singer Darrell and popular recording artist Julie, (with whom she co-wrote "I Know It's Time"), Parsons has studied piano, majored in theatre at Northwestern University, and has opened for Jim White, The Fixx, Dave Mason, Maria Muldaur, Spin Doctors, The Knack, Jonatha Brooke, Shannon McNally, Lori McKenna and Charlotte Martin in her professional career. Raised in Maryland, Kat sang with her family.
"I hope that people will be able to find themselves or a piece of a relationship they've been in, and be able to recognize themselves in the songs," Parsons says of the personal experience of No Will Power. "Being able to recognize yourself in the world is a huge thing, and makes you feel not so alone."
Kat's bio in her own words: "I started pretty early as both a performer and an entrepeneur...used to tap dance in front of our window at night so I could check myself out....went around singing "The Love Boat" at the top of my lungs.......dressed up in all of my mom's rock clothes - fishnets, zebra patterns, huge earrings and made up dances (to her songs) with my friends that we charged neighbors to come see....the shows would be five minutes, the curtain call ten..."
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