by Kat Kidwell
I’ve always been influenced by church music, and favorite hymn of mine, “Amazing Grace,” reminds me of how I really ended up where I am by trusting in, losing, and rekindling my faith as a musician.
When I was a preteen, I chose to dedicate my life to creating music and working with musicians. Well, what was it that seemed strange about that? I didn’t yet have any “talent” to show! I didn’t know how to play the guitar or write songs. I would barely open my mouth to sing. No one expected that I would. So now I believe that, whoever you are, you don’t need any talent or specific knowledge if you’re willing to let your dreams guide you – to end up where you need to be at the moment you’re supposed to be there. For me, I simply suddenly got a compelling feeling that performing music and writing songs was going to play a major part in my life. I just knew.
From that moment, visions kept coming to me of what it was like to be on a stage. I took the next step and began teaching myself, meeting many mentors, and taking in guidance. Six years later, rather than waiting any longer to find time, support, and backup musicians to record a CD at a studio, I put one together using a computer program I already had – and musicians of all ages bought it and tell me they still listen to it! Finally that original notion blossomed years later into my leaving Connecticut to come to Chicago alone to study sound recording.
But, becoming “rational,” i questioned it for a few years. I originally left high school wondering if I’d even go to college or if working in music was something I’d reasonably want to do, trying to find a “practical” reason for it. By graduation all I’d figured out about my mission were two words: I wanted to “create” and I wanted to “change.”
I let myself go to just follow my new intuitions; I started singing a song called “The Train is My Home” to affirm that it was okay to keep moving on. The way I’d always said, “I will never leave Connecticut and never, never live in a city, even a small one!” suddenly turned around on me when I saw the website for Columbia College Chicago. I didn’t know until I visited the school half a year later that its slogan (coincidentally?) was “Create… Change.” I just knew I was being called to Chicago for some reason, that I would arrive knowing no one only to build up a new “family” of support, that I’d learn crucial survival skills when I got there, and that new mentors and friends would enter my life as I needed them. And they have.
Faith kept me afloat. Throughout grade school I held faith in a healing God, and that kept me hopeful and alive. And when I also developed faith in God (feel free to know God by some other name if it helps) not only “out there” but working through my own body, visions, and intuition, I found that I quit wondering “why?” and simply started taking action to create change.
Here’s one lesson I wish to share: Believe that if someone says they want to hear you sing (or if you’re in an audience and the band asks you to sing along!), then they do want you sing. Music is a great thing to do because people are so in tune with themselves about what they feel from it, that when someone says, “I need to hear that song,” yes, we can believe that that song has some healing potential for them, and we can provide it! (No doctor’s note required.)
Love truly has to be your guide… not individual opinions, good or bad, not even your own. Okay, let them all go. Is your faith still moving you to create something? “Write it down. Stick it in the corner of your mirror,” I’ve heard a few songwriters suggest. Or work with some vision in your mind that tells you why you’re here. I mean, one that just inherently tells you, just by being what it is.
Here’s a practice first step for you to do. Next time you envision yourself singing to someone else – and be very aware of these faint dreams since often we choose not to see them! – don’t hold back or wonder why. This is Love, this is Spirit, and this is you. Have faith in it.
One of Kat Kidwell’s major influences was an old folk guitar songbook she discovered when she was eleven. Another was the collection of Beatles records her mom played for her as a kid in the nineties. “People are right, I was born in the wrong decade,” Kat, a self-described hippie spiritual songwriter and music engineer, says. Nature, paintings, church choirs, and folksy campfire sing-alongs inspired her. Kat sings songs that encourage people to have fun and to think about possibilities and unseen connections.