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Kate Wolf Fan Mail

Your comments, thoughts, and remembrances of Kate
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February 5, 1998 -- Thomas Gabriel -- altair4@sb.net
I first found Kate Wolf a few years ago in the folk section of my favorite used LP shop via a vintage copy of "Close to You". I'd heard her name a few times, but never her music. Hearing the album was a revelation--wonderful music right away, and greater depth and insight in those lyrics with repeated listenings. It was sad to find out that she was no longer with us, both because of the music and because of the sensitive, beautiful artist and woman who created it.

Her music has a directness and unpretentious honesty that combines with integrity and fearless exploration of the deepest feelings of her own soul, and the truth she brings to the poetry of her lyrics is at once personal and universal. I believe she deserves a place with all those whose music has touched people and changed lives--some names that come to mind would be the Beatles, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Kate's work is as unique as the work of any of them, and so was she.

Kate fulfilled the folk music genre she worked in, and took it farther and deeper than most of its practitioners, mapping out some pretty impressive territory. Like all the best creative art, it can take the listener on a journey as deeply emotional and affecting as he/she wants to allow, while staying rooted solidly in the day-to-day life of "ordinary" people living close to the earth she loved and respected so much. Uniquely, the same straightforward style and beautiful voice takes the listener through visionary songs like "Brother Warrior" and "The Wind Blows Wild", earthy, joyous ones like "Shining!" and "Like a River", and sheer poetry like "Close to You" and "Seashore Mountain Lady."

What an amazing talent to have had among us, though for too brief a time. I can't think of her music without being a little more grateful to be alive, to be able to experience this world, this earth, just as it is. In "Brother Warrior", Kate sings of the song's subject as "spirit healer." It would be just as apt a description of herself.
I will always regret not having been aware of Kate during her lifetime, not being able to see her perform. A friend told me about the very special loving, caring, and accepting feeling she gave to an audience, and the experience was one my friend could easily bring out of her memory over a dozen years after the fact. How unfortunate for us that there's very little of that around these days.

Kate Wolf, her music, and the legacy of love she left behind for us deserve the best tribute we can give, which I believe is to listen, to feel, and most of all, to share it with as many people as we can.

Great website--keep it going--hope to be with everyone at the next festival!

January 30, 1998 -- Mickey Garza-- Mickgarza@aol.com
Well I was just wondering if there was anything on Kate in here and lo-and- behold, here I am. I wonder who will receive this message and if it is family of Kate, there is something I'd like to say. Never before have I been so touched by one artist, and this comes to me even after her own life has evolved from this earth. I first was turned on to Kate in 1990, the same year my mother was taken from me by cancer. Then I was not fully aware of the fact that she was deceased nor did I know much about her life. As the time passed I could not help but finding out more about this woman. My total interest revealed the news of her death, but what's more, inspired me to find out more about her life. (That is, what I did not already know from listening to her songs). What I learned from talking with people who knew her only made me wish I had known her too. There is not one song that she has done that I don't dig. It is all so wonderful! She obviously has touched many people. Growing up in the Midwest we did not here the likes of music by good, down-to-earth folk artists in my neck-of -the -woods. I was brought up on trendy pop and disco. Isn't that awful? It was not until I made my way out west did I discover folk at it's best..Kate Wolf. And it is of my opinion that there will never be anyone like Kate; nothing can even come close to her style. I am very interested about this address and who will receive this message. If it is Kate's son or daughter, then you must know how much I've been touched. "Unfinished Life" certainly hits me deep inside where I rarely have been touched. Believe me, everything she has done that I've heard is so very fine. For the rest of my life, I will carry in me the spirit of goodness that came to me because of this woman's story. That which she shared with us. Blessed Be for an undying memory.
-- Mickey.

Feb. 16, 1997 -- Steve Hanover -- Sjh915@aol.com
Was and still am a folkie from the 60s.... Dylan/Ochs/Paxton/Baez/Havens/AndersonCollins/....went to Newport every year......but somehow dropped out and never discovered Kate till Nanci turned me on to her.....I now own most of what she has recorded and simply love her music and thoughts on life and how ironic much of it turned out.....I am very grateful we have her recordings....Some of which gives me strength on some rough days,,,Never saw the Austin City limits performance...have to get it....love to hear from some NY Kate fans..

July 30, 1996 -- Jeff Emery -- jefmry@bbs.cruzio.com
Dear Max,

I've been meaning to get around to sending you email ever since your postings about the Kate Wolf memorial concert held last month, and I'm finally getting around to it as I send in my list of Kate's songs for your survey. I want to let you know that it means a lot to me that you are keeping Kate's music accessible to people.

I am now a folk programmer and folk music director at KZSC radio (88.1 FM) in Santa Cruz and Kate has everything to do with my being involved in folk music today. I came of musical age in the sixties with songs that I felt had something to say. As the spiral into the later 70's disco trench occurred I had basically given up on finding meaningful music on the radio and was musically stuck in the past. Then a girlfriend's parents said I had to see Kate Wolf somewhere around 1978. I was immediately captivated by her songs and for the next many years I would drive long distances to see her perform, often many nights in a row, or I'd see both shows of a two show booking. The thing that made her so interesting to me was that she was always trying out brand-new songs on the audience, some only minutes old, lyric sheets taped to the mic stand. She had the uncanny knack of having just written a song to fit my emotional state at the time, almost every time I saw her perform. I was 19 in 1978 so was going through the whole roller coaster of relationships and finding myself.

To shorten this longer than intended story, Kate lead me to public radio where I found others like her. I really enjoyed the show that you did on KKUP featuring her live concert tapes. Unfortunately I often missed it since it was only on a certain day of each month and I would forget to listen.

Two years ago I had the opportunity to start a folk show at KZSC and I named the show "Folk Backroads". The Backroads came from Kate's song, the idea being that the lesser-known byways/lesser-known songwriters have some real treasures, and often overlooked quality to offer. My show features songwriters who generally are not very well known and often produce their own albums. I try to always work in a Kate Wolf song into the show each week too.

Thanks for keeping the music alive and I look forward to the Rhino compilation.

June 5, 1996 -- Marlaina Lieberg -- mlieberg@iquest.com
It is with great joy and a deep sense of honor that I post this message here!

I met Kate in 1982 in Washington, DC. She was playing the Birchmere. Dick Cerri, Mr. Folk Music in the DC area at that time, introduced us. For whatever reason, we became friends immediately, and stayed in touch via phone and mail.

Three years later, she was to come back to DC on my birthday for another appearance at the Birchmere. We had planned a little party that night. Tragically, that day, my guide dog, Dewey, died. I thought my world had come to a crashing end!

We got to the Birchmere that night, and my sister got word back to Kate that I was in rough shape. Just before the intermission, Kate said words to this effect:
"I have a friend here in the front who has lost her best friend and partner today. She is grieving, but if we all surround her with a circle of white light, she will understand the strength and realize that we have life in order that we might give it back again to the earth. We take from the earth only to give back to the earth. It's my friend's birthday, so let's sing Happy Birthday to her." She then did so, and followed it up with "Give Yourself To Love."

The spring before she died, she was to have come back to the DC area, and she and I were going to embark on a project we'd discussed--making a sound quilt--a patchwork quilt of sounds. We were going to take a picnic and our guitars and go to the Shennendoah river so I could show her this spot I know where one can sit and sing to the river! That never happened!

After she died, it took me 3 months before I could listen again to her love and her music! But one night, she visited me while I was sleeping, gave me a loving kick in the pants and said to me, "if you who are alive don't keep my music alive by sharing it, I will truly die."

I awakened in tears, went downstairs, slipped on headphones, and played "Close To You." I cried till I thought my heart would break, and from that day to this, I have not stopped playing and sharing our beloved Kate's music!

Through her words, I see mountains and rivers, birds and trumpet vines, all things I can't see physically, but can now see with the eyes of my heart!

I wrote the following short song in her memory. It's not perfect, it's not professional, it's from my heart!

           "I see you when I walk outside in the bright sunshine;
           I feel you there beside me, and ya know that makes me smile!
           And when the night comes and the moon and stars are twinkling, shining bright
           the one that's just above me will always be your special light!

           For your words reached out to form a circle
           bound with love and concern for all mankind.
           While you were here we all felt some of our hurt go,
           and we all knew a better space in time!

           Oh you sang to us of mountains, and rivers that run free!
           The trumpet vine and red tale hawk now mean a lot to me!
           And you shared with us the way you grew, and how you came to be,
           but now your work is through, my dear, thanks for the memory!

           For you'll always be part of that feelin' that I have every first day of spring!
           And when I sit still and listen to the river rollin' by,
           I will feel all the love that made you sing!

June 3, 1996 -- Katherine Cullman -- CCullman@aol.com
About ten years ago about this time of the year, my husband, son and I moved from Idaho to Washington state. Although this represented a new beginning, it was also a very stressful time. My young son was around five years old, and I had devoted those years to him. One of the things that I had given up during those five years was my love of playing my guitar and singing. Although I was able to do so in the confines of my home, I did not go out and share music with others, and my music ability did not expand. Also, I was searching and just not able to find the soul-reaching music I so craved. All of this ended abruptly when my sister Sharon let me borrow some of her albums from a very eclectic collection. I can still recall the second I heard Kate's voice singing the song "Lately" from her "Back Roads" album. Whatever I was doing at this time, I stopped and instantly heard the voice and music I was searching for. From that point on to present day, it is amazing how much Kate has influenced me.

Of course, I bought every tape or CD I could find as well as the music books. Just like when I discovered Joan Baez as a young woman, I immersed myself in Kate's music. By doing so, my own guitar playing, singing and desire to write my own material took off and has brought me tremendous joy.

I am fortunate to attend a music camp each year held up here in the northwest. Several years back, I received the program for the upcoming camp. To my incredible surprise, Nina Gerber was to teach one of the weeks. Of course, this was the week I chose. I had a few months of waiting, and in that time I made it my plan to work on several of Kate's songs, including "Green Eyes" and "Brother Warrior." When camp time came after the introductions of the teachers, I built up my nerve and went up to Nina, asking if she would perform "Brother Warrior" with me at the student concert held at the end of the camp week. I can't begin to express how exciting it was for me to sit outside during the week and practice this piece with her, then having the wonderful opportunity of performing "Brother Warrior" with her on stage. When you consider that someone else was singing a song that held so many personal memories of a very special person, I believe this was a little hard on Nina at this particular time because Kate had not been gone that long, and it must have been a tough thing early on being up on stage doing Kate's music without Kate.

Music camp is an intense emotional journey for both students and teachers, and I left this camp with a burning desire to expand my own musical journey, both through my own songs and others. I also believe Nina received something, too, as she continues teaching at this camp.

Although I regret that I had not discovered her while she was living, Kate's legacy continues to live on through her music both through listening to her tapes and CDs, and those of us that love to perform her music. This is what I told Nina when I wanted to perform one of Kate's songs. I think this made her feel better about my request.

June 3, 1996 -- John Sisto, The Point Arena Lighthouse -- palight@mcn.org
I first heard Kate's wonderful voice way back in 1973. Ever since that first electric experience I have been a big fan of both the woman herself and of her music. Kate's songs have been a spiritual support during great and not-so-great times in my life. I was fortunate to see her one last time in the year before her passing, and I took that opportunity to speak with her. I told her the story of when and where I first heard her sing, and I was amazed to hear her recall the place and exactly which song I requested she play.

As a veteran of the Vietnam war I was especially sobered by Kate's rendition of AGENT ORANGE. As a native Californian I am always cheered by REDTAIL HAWK. As a man who lives at a lighthouse on the beautiful Mendocino coast I love SEASHORE MOUNTAIN LADY and SAFE AT ANCHOR. Her songs touch so many lives, and I always enjoy exposing new listeners to her recordings.

Thank you for keeping Kate's music and memory alive. Your efforts are a testament to the love she sang of so often in that clear, sweet voice.

May 9, 1996 -- Christine Stimson -- stimson@uwyo.edu
Kate Wolf's song "Across the Great Divide" is the only song of hers that I've ever heard (at least that I know of). I have it on a CD recorded by Nanci Griffith. In this past year that song has affected me a great deal, and I find myself humming or singing it often. I am interested seeking out Kate's music, I'm sure I will enjoy it.
If anyone has suggestions as to which recording a new-to-Kate-Wolf-listener like me should seek out first. I would appreciate you taking the time to let me know.

Thanks, Chris

We usually recommend Gold In California to folks who are new to Kate Wolf. It's a collection she compiled of songs from her studio albums. -Owl Productions, 5/16/96

Feb. 14, 1996 -- - Robert Brusca -- Robert_Brusca@smtpgw.corsair.com
Kate Wolf is a woman that will remain a part of my life and my wife's life forever. Kate's life is complete on earth but the fruit of her labor will live on in the generations to come. I miss her as I write. It seems like only yesterday that I was hearing her play at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Kate always seemed to remember me when we went to her shows; I always tried to see her during her breaks and she took the time to see me. We even have a license plate the reads EMAROSE. That is how important Kate is to me. I am a fan and also a friend. I share her music and her life with as many people as I can.
I remember the day she died. I was on my way to work and I heard it on the radio. I cried. We've been to Goodyear's Bar and we have seen Kate resting; it is a beautiful place just like Kate. Time goes on and so does Kate. I really appreciate Max, Hannah and Terry for all their work in keeping her alive. It is always wonderful to get a news letter informing me of a new album. I will always remember Kate Wolf as a person who had a life full of ups and downs, her music, her friendship and her love.

Feb. 2, 1996 -- Mary Nugent -- nugentm@redwood.vkm.com
So glad to see this web page, and the continued effort at promoting Kate and her music. I first heard Kate, through the FolkSampler radio program, in the early 1980's. I quickly became an avid fan. I still remember going to the record store to find her music and was delighted to find "Give Yourself to Love." This was in the days when folk music wasn't popular in record stores.
I was fortunate to have met Kate when she played in Chicago at Holstein's during autumn of '85. The show was taped for WFMT's folk program, the Midnight Special; a tape I still listen to regularly. Over the years, I've heard a lot of music, and seen many performances ... but meeting Kate and hearing her perform was one of the highlights of my life. Her music has filled many miles of road trips and many hours of listening. She has touched my life profoundly and at every chance I get, I turn others on to her music.

Dec. 1, 1995 -- Lois J. Maltais -- ljm@uncompaghre
It was wonderful to see a Web page for Kate. One day in 1982 I was walking the halls of The Jackson Laboratory (the largest Mammalian Genetics Laboratory in the world, focusing on Cancer Research) and heard some wonderful folk music coming from one of the research labs. I asked the Post Doc who he was listening to and he said Kate Wolf. From what I heard so briefly that afternoon I had to buy her music! And I did - all of it. In 1983 I designed and built my farm house - and all through the planning and constructing phase I played her music, exclusively. Her words, her music, her voice had a way of centering me. Even today when I am in need of centering, I sit by my fireplace and play her music - it does bring me peace. I still mourn her loss - but how wonderful her music, through your efforts, lives on. She was special - she seemed to have a very good soul. She means a lot to me because she contributed so enormously to my inner growth and development. I needed her then (in 1982/83) and at times I need her now. My only wish is that I could have met her in person. I had hoped she would have come to Maine BUT....

Nov. 27, 1995 -- Pat Horwath -- pat@coe.Berkeley.EDU
I was first introduced to Kate's music in early 1980 by a friend and feel so grateful that I was able to see her perform more than anyone else before or since. In 1982 or thereabouts I was in Mendocino doing an anthropology project and one of the townsfolk while explaining the history of the Presbyterian Church on the coast also mentioned to me that he once heard 3 angels sing there, Kate, Rosalee and Nanci Griffith who were travelling up and down Calif. singing in bars and churches. He said it was the most incredible experience of music he ever witnessed.
I have since asked many folks if this was true, people in Mendocino and a general post on the internet without any positive answers except someone in Mendocino has a friend who once saw Rosalee and Kate together. Although I can remember this discussion with this man on the Mendocino coast with clarity I am now wondering if this was just a dream. Can you waken me from this illusion? Was this a true concert and about when did they travel together - pre-1980? I tried to talk to Rosalee last time she was in Berkeley but she wasn't available during intermission. Please put my mind at ease.
Whenever I mention Kate on the Nanci Griffith listserve I receive queries from folks from all over the world (all ages) wanting to know if there was anything more written about her. At that point you weren't online and I remembered an article I saved from the San Francisco Chronicle after Kate's death. To calm their great interest I xeroxed this article and referred them to your songbooks and video but I'm glad to see you are now on the Web. I also thought this would be a good article to post on your Web site if it is possible. One gentleman from Denmark replied how grateful he was that I sent him the article about Kate. He was so touched he cried and asked me to send him 2 of Kate's CD's that he couldn't find in his area. Another 23 year old from Maryland wants to visit Goodyear's Bar someday.
Thanks if you can tell me if the trio of Angels was a true story and about what year it happened.

We recently spoke to Nina Gerber and Rosalie Sorrels about this, and they said that Kate, Rosalie & Nanci never played anywhere together. In the early part of 1986 Rosalie, Nanci and Nina Gerber did a number of shows on a tour which included a show at the Casper Inn in Mendocino county in Northern California. This was before Kate was diagnosed with leukemia. Kate of course did a number of shows at different locations along the coast but never with Rosalie or Nanci. -Owl Productions, 12/23/95

Nov. 19, 1995 -- Holmes L. Ellis, Tempe, Az. -- HolmesE444@aol.com
I'm sure this has been said before. However, I just wanted to let you all know how wonderful Kate's music is. I am a big Nanci Griffith fan and first heard Kate's music on " Other Voices" since then I have picked up most of her CD's. I'm happy she was on this earth, and sad she was not able to write more songs.

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