Kate MacLeod: Reaching People’s Hearts with Music

By Ted Scheffler

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A native of the Washington D.C. area, music lovers are lucky that singer-songwriter Kate MacLeod chose to make Utah her home. She’s lived and created here in the Beehive for decades. The multi-talented musician plays guitar, harmonica and violin and has studied many styles of ethnic violin and also trained in classical violin. It’s no wonder her violin skills are so well-honed. Kate worked at the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City.

MacLeod is pretty much the definition of a working musician: she performs solo, of course, but has myriad side gigs with groups and artists such as Robin Spielberg’s American Tapestry, as lead singer for Emmy Award-winning Red Rock Rondo, as a duo with Kat Eggleston, plays Klezmer and Romanian gypsy music with The KlezBros, performs and records with the Celtic music group Shanahy, and performed with “the mythical song bard” Jack Hardy. Her life, quite literally, is defined by music.


She is particularly inspired by Utah’s natural beauty and landscape. “Much of my music is inspired by our natural world, and our regional culture. My most recent recording is a collection of violin pieces inspired by landscape and nature, with some pieces inspired specifically by Utah’s landscape,” she says. She adds that her music is “sometimes about historic events and characters.”  

Along with music CDs, MacLeod sells music books containing her music and music-related items that she creates, such as fiddle and guitar earrings and patches. Her music books include Kate MacLeod Songs - a 50-song songbook - and her new tunebook featuring music from Deep in the Sound of Terra. Her products can be found online at katemacleod.com and at Ken Sanders Rare Books. An accomplished visual artist, as well, she designed the cover for Deep in the Sound of Terra herself.

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Commenting on how she got started in the music business as a full-time profession, MacLeod says “I began this work after many other musicians began recording my music in our region and across the country. I was encouraged by some of Americana music’s most amazing artists, and have worked with many Grammy-winning musicians.” She’s opened shows for the likes of Rosanne Cash, Greg Brown and Dan Fogelberg, as well.
MacLeod also has a love of teaching, and teaches songwriting and fiddle workshops in summer camps, schools, at music festivals, and in concert outreach programs. In addition, she offers private music lessons for acoustic guitar and violin/fiddle.

Kate performed at the Made in Utah Winter Fest December 15th & 16th at The Gateway. Admission was free, with vendors including distilleries, breweries, restaurants, product makers, food trucks, and live music.

When asked where she’d like to be in five years, Kate says “I would love continue exactly what I am doing, but would love to be performing even more than I do now. I love to reach people’s hearts with music.”

As for advice for up-and-coming musicians or those thinking about taking on music as a profession, MacLeod says “Commit to yourself that you will do one thing for your career every day. Be yourself, there is no one like you, don’t try to emulate another musician completely; the most successful musicians become well known because they have something completely original to offer that no one else could do.” That pretty much sums up Kate MacLeod: she offers us something that no one else could.