Kathi McDonald

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Kathi McDonald's voice is so riveting, people take notice even when she isn't the main attraction. In fact, the strength of her voice is what landed the vocalist her first big professional gig when she…
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Kathi McDonald's voice is so riveting, people take notice even when she isn't the main attraction. In fact, the strength of her voice is what landed the vocalist her first big professional gig when she was attending a concert and joined in as part of the audience. McDonald's powerful voice drew Ike Turner's notice in a club called the Winterland, and he invited the aspiring singer to his and Tina Turner's next rehearsal. McDonald had snagged a spot in the Ikettes, the Turners' backing group, without even trying. It was a heady and magical beginning for someone who never had any formal lessons. Born in Washington state in 1948, McDonald performed professionally for the first time around Seattle when she was 12 years old. At the age of 19 she set off for San Francisco and its burgeoning musical climate, where she met the Turners and, through her association with them, took the first step on a career path that would span more than three decades. Not long after the evening at Winterland, her talent caught the attention of Big Brother & the Holding Company's Sam Andrew. McDonald threw her lot in with the band in 1969, leading to appearances on the albums Can't Go Home Again, How Hard It Is, and Be a Brother. She went on to sing with Mad Dogs & Englishmen for Joe Cocker, and later sang with Leon Russell's Shelter People. Her session work included recordings for such artists as the Rolling Stones, Nils Lofgren, Rita Coolidge, Delaney & Bonnie, and Dave Mason. Her work for other musical artists totals up to appearances on almost 150 albums, more than six dozen of which achieved gold status. In addition, McDonald also launched a solo career in 1974 with the release of the album Insane Asylum. The recording was arranged by Pete Sears, whose formal band associations include Hot Tuna and Jefferson Starship. Insane Asylum featured performances by Tower of Power, the Pointer Sisters, Aynsley Dunbar, John Cippolina, Neil Schon, and Ronnie Montrose. Sales were disappointing, however, and the singer did not release another solo effort for 20 years, when Save Your Breath appeared. Above and Beyond followed in 1999, featuring contributions from Lee Oskar on harmonica and Brian Auger on keyboards. McDonald devoted more than two decades to recording and performing in collaboration with Long John Baldry, and the duo scored with their version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" when it was released in Canada. In later years, she also contributed to the Seattle Women in Rhythm and Blues project. She reunited with Big Brother & the Holding Company in California for a concert on New Years Eve, 1997. She was inducted into the Washington Blues Society's Hall of Fame two years later. McDonald, who resides in the Pacific Northwest, is furthering her education in pursuit of a Master Chef's degree.