Kaia Kater (1993-present) weaves a vibrant auditory tapestry of song and story using her voice, guitar, piano, and banjo. Born in Montreal, Kaia grew up immersed in the cultures of her Canadian hometown in addition to the cultural heritage of her father, who hails from Grenada. This juxtaposition, coupled with her family’s deep roots in folk music, helped shape her creative expression and later inspired her 2018 album, Grenades.
Growing up, Kater often spent her time attending festivals, camps, and conferences in the North American folk scene. She moved throughout Canada before setting in Elkins, West Virginia to attend Davis & Elkins college on a banjo scholarship. There, Kaia absorbed Appalachian music and traditions by learning to flatfoot and strengthening her body percussion, or hambone, skills. By 2012, she’d released her first EP, Old Soul, and her first full-length album, Sorrow Bound, followed two years later. After another two years had passed, Kaia released her third album, Nine Pin, to critical acclaim. The record earned her the “Pushing the Boundaries” award at the 12th Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Rolling Stone described her as a “need to know” artist of 2016 after the album’s release, observing her blend of old-time banjo and “sobering, honest lyrics exploring all-too-current themes including poverty and racism...a quiet, yet powerful storm.” Since then, Kater has toured often throughout the US, UK, Europe, and Canada to play both venues and festivals including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and Newport Folk Festival.