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Kate Wolf

Although she was a significant presence on the folk scene between the late '70s and mid-'80s, it's difficult to categorize Kate Wolf as a folk performer (though that is ultimately the broad category that suits her best). Although she largely employed acoustic instrumentation, she really owed more to the contemporary singer/songwriter movement than folk-based traditions. While it's easy to imagine her music appealing to fans of, say, Joni Mitchell, she never made the slightest impact on the rock audience, and barely drew from rock elements at all in her own work. Her music also had a strong country flavor, though not of the Nashville variety. Her fusion of country, folk, and singer/songwriter influences helped point the way for later country-folk-pop performers such as Nanci Griffith and Mary-Chapin Carpenter.

The appeal of Wolf's music is broad -- folk, pop, and rootsy country fans can all find something to like -- yet elusive. Her songs are not necessarily immediately striking upon first listen, and her body of work, if taken more than an album at a time, can justifiably be described as rather heterogenous. Her style is one that tends to grow on listeners over time, as Wolf is not about flash. Her songs, characterized by a strong narrative thread, are about the ebbs and flow of adult life, in terms that are neither overly sentimental nor mundane. She describes family, romance, and the rural life of her native Northern California with fine (though not studious) detail, projecting a sort of reserved sensitivity with her lower-than-average vocals. Hers is a voice of wisdom, comfort, and independence. If those aren't the most exciting things around, there are few other performers who convey such consistent warmth and dignity, making listeners she never met personally feel as if they were hearing letters from a friend.

Wolf didn't get her recording career going until the mid-'70s, by which time she was well into her thirties. Prior to emerging as a solo artist, she had headed the band Wildwood Flower (who backed her on her first two albums), and organized folk concerts and festivals in Northern California. Very much a self-starter, her first two albums were released on her own Owl label; thereafter, her catalog was handled by Kaleidoscope.

Over the next few years, Wolf built a strong following on the folk circuit with a series of fairly similar but remarkably consistent albums. Her recordings always benefited from first-rate instrumental support from various small bands; guitarist Nina Gerber was her most important associate in this regard. She was still at her peak when her life was tragically cut short by leukemia in 1986.

Rhino Records has reissued all of Wolf's albums on CD; in addition to the five studio discs, there are several collections of live and previously unreleased material. It's a bit much all in one gulp for most listeners, though there is an undisputed audience for her more marginal work. Neophytes are advised to start with the two-CD Gold in California set, a career-spanning retrospective of some of her best songs. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


suzan_philli p s
This song reminds me of Callahan, CA
garrickconne c t i o n
Somehow in the midst of the turbulent 60's and 70's, Kate just slipped under my radar but today I feel refreshed and blessed when I hear her songs. She's right up there with with Joni, Judi and Joan!
I am seventy years old this August. I lived through it all. The sixties, the seventies, the hippies, vietnam, the whole thing.

The music that is created today, is not really music, but then I am not from this generation.

Kate Wolf is my absolute favorite musician of all time. There is no one like her, not even close.

It runs on my computer every evening. I have heard her sing these compositions hundreds of times. I never get tired of her voice.

There has never been anyone else like her
Kate Wolf is the person that I wish I could hike along the California coast beside. She is my all time favorite singer songwriter; A kindred artist whose presence is gentle, strong and feminine. She had my heart as a child(-:
She obviously had an impact in the DC area. She was a beautiful lady, physically, musically and personally. Love her music. Also enjoyed her work with Bruce Phillips.
I first heard Kate Wolf many years ago on Dick Cerri's folk music radio program in the Washington DC area. I then bought all of her albums then available, and since. Her voice, her songs, and her quiet, calm style speak directly to me. Only Eva Cassidy's singing touches me in the same way. Their early deaths from cancer were tragedies. Buy their albums and listen.
Hi Kate !! Welcome to my music list. You have a voice like an angel
I never listen to Kate and not cry
I don't believe in life after but I do believe the thoughts we have for those that have passed make them alive because those memories are alive in our living minds
Unfortunatel y to my chagrin I have just recently discovered and I am blessed.
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading this don't stop. This is so scary. Post this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come up on the screen. This is so scary because it actually works. F6
Man, I miss her.
I saw Kate at Cafe Lena in about 1979. Instant love. Voice and stage presence were fully captivating. Still sounds great.
Lovely voice, would not have been amiss in the 60's
lpinkmountai n
Really disliked the backhanded insults in this bio. Kate has a unique style and talent and really should not be called lower than average, not studious and a bit too much. That is wholly subjective. I love her work and find it inspiring, memorable and meaningful, and her voice lovely! Since when is not studious a defect of poetry? She was a great songstress.
First time to listen to her music....bea u t i f u l and fulfilling.. . . .
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading this don't stop. This is so scary. Post this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come up on the screen. This is so scary because it actually works. F6
her live album's available on DVD. so good! it's from a recording of an austin city limits show r l 2 9 1 0
she's a singer's singer.... r l 2 9 1 0
I like the pitch and timbre of her voice!! she gets the most out of every note she sings.

Some folks might misinterpret the statement from her bio that describes her lower than average vocals. I think it refers to her tone.
Beautiful music from a superb artist.
timeless, time and place how well sung
In spite of the reviewers somewhat unenthusiast i c statements, Kate is/was awesome. Listen to some of the tribute songs written on her behalf when she died.
gold is crashing, Goldman sacks manipulates markets
The Best. Had the great fortune to imerse myself in the world folk music association in Washington DC. Thanks to Dick Cerri and Music America, and all the folk venues in and around DC , my folk roots are etched in stone not only in my heart, But my childrens as well. Even in my second life my 9 year old (yes 9), knows Kate,s voice and all her songs. Thank you Kate.
Her voice brings me back to evening walks on cold winter nights in my west Philly neighborhood . Maybe 1985 or 86. Just me, my basset hound and Kate Wolf. add snow to the mix, for one year there was quite a bit adding to the charm of the memory. My heart warms with nostalgia when I hear her voice. She is not forgotten.
Today is the first I have heard her. LOVE it. Then when I was scrolling thru the info-Norther n Calif. I grew upthere. No wonder I felt an immediate connection.
New artist for me, found her when I linked in Joan Baez. Very bittersweet melody & beautiful voice.
sweet voice !!
I think her voice is beautiful~no t "less than average."
Kate Wolf means a lot, a gem of the acoustic music scene
Sadly similar to Laurie Styvers, another beautiful singer/write r who died much too young.
What a beautiful legacy she left, for all of us to enjoy.
very nice, cannot remember hearing her before
I still weep when I think of Kate, or hear her songs. I guess the last time I saw her perform was at the Caspar Inn, '85 or so.
My husband turned me on to Kate Wolf. She wrote & sang from her heart. The day she died a part of my husband went with her, that's how much her music meant to him.
I agree with e i n ! Please have someone who actually likes folk music and specifically Kate's music write her bio!! e i n
get a reviewer who actually likes the work! kate wolf is a folk genius!
I first heard Kate Wolf when she opened for another artist at the Cellar Door in Washington, DC in the '70's. I left with her album Back Roads and have loved her music ever since. I saw her perform a few other times and was delighted to discover that a good friend knew Kate and played songs with her when they both lived in California.
I've been listening to Kate Wolf all my life. My parents would play her tape while we ate dinner sometimes, and when I found out she had died before I was born I was very sad to hear that she wouldn't be producing any more music. I whistle her songs all the time; as I draw, while walking between classes, when I'm washing the dishes. My brother and father usually join in if I'm whistling at home.
saw her many times in concert in California. Once, in Nevada City I walked up to her to get her autograph on an album She was shocked that i had her original first album She said they were rare. I sitll have it.
@craighlm9: I cried too when she passed away. I see that her family maintains her web site and therefore her amazing work. To them, thank you so very much.
First time I heard Kate was today on Pandora and had to put her on my list. What a beautiful, friendly voice. I was sad to know how long ago she left us.
I too first heard Kate on Prairie Home Companion. I rediscovered her on a Peter, Paul and Mary Pandora station... her music may be from Northern California but its a perfect match for life here in the Wind River Valley of West-Central Wyoming. Her bio is accurate, her music feels like conversation s with an old friend.
Saw Kate at the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, Ca. What a wonderful and gentle person. I wept when I heard of her passing.
Live about 30 miles west of Jerome and been there many times. Great depiction of what it must have been like in the late 1800's. Next time we go, we'll pop in the CD and make the drive memorable.
It's been over 20 years, but I still miss her. She lives on through the annual festival in Northern California, her roots.
susanscolast i c o
I still use Give yourself to love in our Retreats. Kate Wolf and Eva Cassidy, two of my favorites, gone too soon, but never to be forgotten because of their beautiful heartfelt voices they left behind.
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