Kathleen Yearwood

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The Bow and Elbow rivers flow together in the city of Calgary, Alberta, and something about the water in them may be helping to produce great, original, and introspective female singer/songwriters whose…
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The Bow and Elbow rivers flow together in the city of Calgary, Alberta, and something about the water in them may be helping to produce great, original, and introspective female singer/songwriters whose talents extend beyond just music. Alberta's Joni Mitchell went on to become world famous, of course. Kathleen Yearwood's work remained mostly underground during the latter third of the 20th century, her most widely distributed release ironically emerging on the San Francisco Subterranean label. She began publishing her works in the mid-'80s, first with poems and articles in various Canadian journals, then with self-published cassettes. Her first vinyl project was released in 1991, a 7" single for Desolation Row records. Several CDs for Subterranean followed in 1994-1997, and as the 2000 millennium began, she was producing CDs for her own label, Voice of the Turtle.

Though originally something of a folk artist, appearing at many of the famous Canadian folk festivals, Yearwood's work was strongly influenced by punk rock. Not only has she appeared with backing bands that put the "punk" into folk-rock like a race car driver adding a dash of STP, but the strong political statements she often makes or looks for in the texts of her frequent contributors is more akin to the music of groups such as the Dead Kennedys or Minutemen than it is to folk protest singers such as Phil Ochs. Her music also always branches out into the avant-garde realms, her CDs featuring a cappella and spoken word tracks as well as contributions from musicians outside the folk or rock milieus. Her avant-garde work surely led to a triumphant appearance at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville, Quebec. She lists her influences as "noise, sound, birds, coyotes, silences of different qualities, literature."