With the mind of a diplomat and the musicality of a modern pop diva, Katrina Carlson is an artist with true mass appeal. Her stirring, vibrant songs embody universal themes of love and strength that are central to humanity. The critics love her albums, and so do Carlson’s growing legions of dedicated fans.
Carlson grew up in Paradise Valley, Ariz., the youngest of 11 children. By the age of 12 she was playing both piano and guitar, and composing songs to entertain her family. Her early talents for songwriting and performance set the stage for
Carlson’s bright future.
Initially, Carlson did not formally pursue a musical career. She attended Brown University, where she majored in international relations, foreign policy and diplomacy. After graduation, Carlson found herself at a crossroads. Dealing with a recent family tragedy and feeling disillusioned by the political climate in Washington, D.C., she moved to New York for some “musical therapy.” Carlson earned admission into the Manhattan School of Music and Brooklyn College’s opera program. During this time, she expanded her creative repertoire and joined an Off-Broadway Cole Porter review amongst many other musical productions. Carlson also appeared in the 1999 indie romantic comedy Special Delivery, and contributed two songs to the film’s soundtrack.
In September 2001, Carlson released her debut record, Apples for Eve, with songs co-written and produced by Emmy winner Ron Cohen. Soon after, Carlson’s music started to spread its way throughout American culture. Her music graced the soundtracks of television shows Dawson’s Creek, Lost and Passions, as well as the feature film Go Tigers!. As a result of these successes, Carlson was selected as a 2002 finalist in the Rolling Stone/Jim Beam Emerging Artist series.
Carlson’s second record, 2003’s Untucked, contained four hit singles that spent a remarkable 18 combined months on the Billboard and R&R Adult Contemporary charts. The romantic pop ballad “I Know You by Heart” is a powerful and moving duet featuring Benny Mardones -- best known for his 1980s hit single “Into the Night.” Follow-up tunes such as “Count on Me,” “Suddenly Beautiful,” and Carlson’s skillful rendering of The Cars’ classic “Drive” are musical gems that brought the album well-deserved praise including an award for “Best Independent Pop Album” at the 2003 Los Angeles Music Awards.
After releasing Untucked, Carlson continued her sonic diversity by expanding her 1970s-era, soft-rock sound to include a deeper, edgier pop-rock sound. This creative evolution has shaped Carlson’s latest effort, Here and Now. Produced by Ron Aniello (Barenaked Ladies, Guster, Lifehouse), the new record offers a lush collection of sweeping power ballads and upbeat pop tunes. A major highlight is the title track, inspired by the moment Carlson first held her then-newborn baby, Ruby Rose, and mused over experiences and lessons learned in her own life. In Carlson’s words, “I look for the beauty in the good, the bad and the ugly alike. I’m grateful and I count it all a blessing.”
Here and Now’s first single is a modern take on the Howard Jones classic “No One is to Blame,” with a guest appearance by Jones himself on vocals and piano. With songs such as “Be the One,” “First To Say Goodbye” and “Lost,” Carlson again demonstrates her enrichment as both an individual and a professional musician. This growth is equally evident in the diversity of Carlson’s live performances. While on tour, she has opened for such artists as Kenny Loggins, Chicago, Eddie Money and Rick Springfield. Priding herself in the ability to “mix it up” onstage, Carlson offers audiences everything from an unplugged acoustic show to a full rock band extravaganza. “Lately, I've been throwing in snippets of opera!” Carlson added, laughing. Carlson loves that her audiences include dancing teenagers, hip seniors and everything in between.
As a songwriter, the former actress explains that she envisions her songs as “mini-movies,” complete with characters, storylines and plot resolutions. Much like contemporaries Sheryl Crow and Natalie Merchant, Carlson views herself in various shades, and by that standard, Here and Now is a rainbow of textured life stories. Many of the songs included on her new album lend themselves to use in film and television. “Feel For Me” has already been tapped by the N-Network’s “South of Nowhere,” and will be featured in the first two episodes including the season premiere.
Carlson says, “I believe in personal responsibility; you own what is yours that way.” But she also realizes that behind every great musician is a dedicated team and a supportive family. Carlson has all of these gifts, which allow her to live life on her own terms. “I used to feel like I was always rushing to the finish line, now I’m really trying to savor each moment and recognize everyday is a gift.” she says. This new album reflects that inner clarity that, for Katrina Carlson, truly is Here and Now.