Kaia Kater’s old-time banjo-picking skills, jazz-fuelled voice and deft song craft have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK.
Born in Montreal to parents hailing from Quebec and Grenada in the Caribbean, Kaia Kater grew up between two worlds – her family’s deep ties to folk music, and the years she spent soaking up the Appalachian music she studied in West Virginia. She started her career early, crafting her first EP when she was just out of high school. Since then she has gone on to release two more albums, win a Canadian Folk Music Award and embark on an 18-month touring journey from Ireland to Iowa. Along the way she has garnered critical acclaim from National Public Radio (USA), CBC Radio (Canada), Rolling Stone magazine, BBC Music and No Depression magazine. In 2018, the highly acclaimed Rhiannon Giddens selected Kaia as one of her chosen acts to feature at the Cambridge Folk Festival, as part of Giddens’ guest curator responsibilities. Giddens and Kater toured together later that year.
As reviewed by a edition of Uncut, “her last album in 2016, Nine Pin, was a minor classic forged from both modern and traditional folk-roots, upgrading the sounds and narratives of rural Appalachia into something vital and fresh”. However, Kaia is soon to release a brand new album, Grenades, “where she explores her ancestral heritage in a song suite described as ‘my march from the past into the present”. This search for her cultural backstory focuses on her father’s story of coming from Grenada to Canada as a teenage refuge, and the album is already garnering extremely positive reviews.
A recent gig review stated that “the sweetest of sounds gently seeps from her delicate banjo playing and a leaning towards original songs marks her out as a serious poet rather than just an old-time interpreter”.
Kaia will be joined in Shetland by Andrew Ryan who is a bassist, composer and collaborator from Denver, Colorado, and Dan Rougeau from Montreal on guitar.