“Katie Dahl’s songs aren’t just melodies and words, they’re journeys that are firmly grounded in a sense of place—beautiful, real landscapes that help you feel places that you may have never been before. That’s the very best kind of songwriting.”
Singer-songwriter Katie Dahl has performed her original songs everywhere from the dusty cliffs of Mali, to the winding canals of southern France, to the cedar forests of the American northwoods. Particularly well-respected on her home turf of Door County, Wisconsin, Katie tours regularly and has earned accolades nationwide for the depth and power of her alto voice, the literate candor of her songs, and the easy humor of her live performances. In 2015, Katie’s song “Crowns” hit #1 on the folk radio charts. Her musical play “Victory Farm” premiered to high acclaim in 2012 and has since been made into a live cast album. Karen Impola of Iowa Public Radio says, “Katie Dahl’s music combines a love for her rural midwestern roots, a droll wit, and a clear-eyed appraisal of modern life, all served up in a voice as rich as cream.” Katie’s latest album, “Wildwood” (September 2019) was recorded in Nashville and features Birds of Chicago’s JT Nero (producer) and Allison Russell (harmony vocals).
Though Katie currently makes her home in rural Door County, Wisconsin, with her husband and 3-year-old son, she travels extensively, sharing stages with the likes of Dar Williams and Peter Mulvey, and playing intimate house concerts as well as established venues like Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. Richly steeped in the folk songwriter tradition, Katie navigates the muddy waters between the personal and the public with the skill of a writer twice her age. She is equally adept at writing about relationships (without being indulgent or myopic) and taking on the threat of chain restaurants to her own small community (without being polarizing or didactic). The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says that Katie combines “old-fashioned populism, an abiding love of the land and wickedly smart love songs, all delivered in a rich and expressive alto.”
Katie Dahl was a college freshman when she slipped on a patch of sidewalk ice and broke her wrist. Suddenly unable to play the oboe in her college orchestra, Katie used her newfound free time to learn guitar, teaching herself chord shapes as she strummed the strings with her stiff right hand. Nine years later, that icy day has proven to be a blessing in disguise, as Katie has made a career as an accomplished writer and musician whom acclaimed author Parker Palmer has called “a singer-songwriter you need to get to know.”
Katie has four original studio albums to her credit, County Line (2009), Leaky Boats and Paper Birds (2012), Ordinary Band (2015), and Wildwood (2019). In 2017, Katie teamed up with Rich Higdon and Eric Lewis to record Solid Ground: The Songs of Fred Alley. Katie’s musical Victory Farm (live cast album released 2012; co-written with James Valcq and Emilie Coulson) is a fictionalized account of the real-life German POWs who came to Wisconsin to pick cherries during World War II. She is currently writing another musical based on the story of two sisters whose home is threatened by eminent domain when Wisconsin creates a state park in 1908.
Photo by Sheila Lewis.
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artists Showcase (2015)
#1 Song, Folk DJ Charts (“Crowns,” 2015)
#6 Album, Folk DJ Charts (Ordinary Band, 2015)
Folk Festival on WDCB #1 Album of 2015 (Ordinary Band)
Top 30 Albums of 2015, Indiana Public Radio (Ordinary Band)
Great River Folk Festival Songwriting Contest, 2nd Place (2013)
Indiana Public Radio WVPE Top 25 Albums of 2012
Wisconsin Singer-Songwriter Series Songwriting Contest, 2nd Place (2012)
Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year (2010)