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Katie Dahl Full Bio

“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.”
-Dar Williams

Clear-eyed and tough-minded, songwriter/playwright Katie Dahl is known for her smart songs, wry wit, and wise spirit. A small-town celebrity on the Wisconsin peninsula where her family has lived for 175 years, Katie is also an internationally touring, radio-charting artist who “delivers razor-sharp lyrics with a hearty, soulful voice” (American Songwriter). In live shows that are both courageously honest and devilishly funny, Katie dives deep into questions of land and love, family and body image, grief and joy. “In unsettled times,” says Peter Mulvey, “Katie Dahl brings us a grounded spirit.”

Katie’s five albums of original songs showcase her creamy alto, abiding love of the land, and trademark humor, as well as her unflinching vulnerability. Her recent work finds her exploring deeper territory than ever before, from anxiety to body image to the challenges of growing up queer in an evangelical church. Richly steeped in the American songwriting tradition, Katie navigates the muddy waters between the personal, public, and political with tenderness and dexterity.

In 2024, Katie was named a Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Finalist, as well as “Most Wanted to Return” at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist Showcase. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, “Katie Dahl . . . combine[s] old-fashioned populism, an abiding love of the land and wickedly smart love songs, all delivered in a rich and expressive alto.”

Katie was a first-year college student in Minnesota 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. Twenty-odd years later, that icy day has proven to be a blessing in disguise, leading Katie into a life of work that Dar Williams calls “the very best kind of songwriting.”

Katie’s most recent album, Seven Stones (2023) is a deep dive into vulnerability originally titled Things Katie Dahl Finds Hard to Say. Produced by Julie Wolf and featuring appearances by such luminaries as Kris Delmhorst, Peter Mulvey, Eliza Gilkyson, Vicki Randle, Todd Sickafoose, and Jenny Scheinman, the album was praised as “breathtaking” by Country Queer and spent a month at #2 on the folk radio charts. Her 2019 album Wildwood, which explored her ancestry and contemporary life in Door County, was produced by JT Nero (Birds of Chicago) and features Allison Russell; the album’s song “Worry My Friend” hit #6 on the folk radio charts in 2019.

Says Nero, “Katie Dahl is the real deal. She’s a ‘regional’ artist the way Robert Frost is a regional artist, meaning everybody in the world can appreciate the way she captures the spirit of a place–and the generations of humans who’ve lived, loved and died there–with such grace, nuance and grit.”

Ordinary Band (2015), produced by Eric Lewis and featuring a guest appearance by Tracy Grammer, found an unexpected hit with the bluegrass-tinged “Crowns,” which spent a month at #1 on the folk charts. Leaky Boats and Paper Birds (2012) produced Dahl’s biggest crowd-pleaser, an ode to local restaurants called “Hometown Tables.” County Line (2009) was her debut album.

Katie is also a musical playwright; her latest musical The Fisherman’s Daughters (2024) tells the story of two sisters in 1908 who fight the state of Wisconsin’s efforts to take their rural homestead via eminent domain to make a state park. Victory Farm (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. Both plays were made into live cast recordings. Katie is currently writing three more musicals.

When she’s not on the road (and when she is), Katie enjoys fiction reading, cookie baking, slow running, and Green Bay Packers football, as well as spending time with her partner and their eight-year-old son.