Kathi McDonald is a living legend in the blues genre. Dubbed: Northwest Washington’s First Lady of the Blues, this woman’s career spans three decades and a myriad of projects. She has played an intrinsic part in over 140 albums, of which 80 are gold records. In her line of work if you are not well above the talent curve you don’t get called on. Not only was her phone ringing, the offers on the other end were from heavy hitters such as: Ike & Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Rolling Stones, Leon Russell, and Long John Baldry.
Kathi’s professional career began at age twelve in the Seattle area. Her formal training is not mentioned because she’s had none. Kathi is a true virtuoso, the likes of which are not made but born. Kathi’s innate gift manifests in a way that can only be described as spiritual, her vocal quality has a warmth and richness that will envelope you from the first note. Her impeccable timing and phrasing emanates from truly understanding the blues, it begins in her soul.
Kathi spent 7 years honing her craft with popular local bands in Seattle until 1967 when she set out for San Francisco. She was 19 and at the epicenter of a turning point in musical history, she was also ready to take on anything that came her way.
One night she was in the audience at Bill Graham’s Winterland watching Ike & Tina when she grabbed Ike’s attention… by singing too loudly. She was asked to show up for rehearsals the next day.
Four months later Kathi was at The Carousel where she got up on stage. This time it was Sam Andrew from Big Brother that requested her talents. She joined the band in 1969 where she appeared on: Be A Brother (1970) and How Hard It Is (1971). She has also played a crucial role in the bands retrospective album Can’t Go Home Again (1997).
Aside from collaborative efforts Kathi has solo projects of her own: Insane Asylum (1974) and Save Your Breath (1994). Her most recent release Above And Beyond (1999) is a triumph in a long and prestigious career that fortunately for us shows no signs of slowing down.
Article written by: Leslie
Leslie Sallee is a former audio engineer and is currently trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.
full length songs in our jukebox
Kathi's listing in our roster
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