Friday, Jun. 09 | 8:00pm ET (7:00pm CT)
Grammy-nominated rock goddess Cathy Richardson, lead singer of Jefferson Starship and Cathy Richardson Band, returns to The Acorn!
About the Artist:
It’s hard to think of any musician who’s had a more varied career than Chicago-based singer Cathy Richardson; from scrappy indie rock singer selling albums out of her car to commercial jingles, off-Broadway stage productions to fronting Jefferson Starship and a variety of side projects, she also picked up a Grammy nomination along the way. The twists and turns of her career feel impossible to follow, and incredibly unlikely, but are owed to the vast range of Richardson’s dynamite-packed vocal cords and her dogged perseverance to achieve goals she set as a teenager.
“When I set out to do rock and roll, I was like, 'I'm going to be a rock star.' Not, 'I want to be a rock star.' I'm going to be a rock star,” she says. “I thought that it was, 'Oh, I'm going to write songs and I'm going to shop them to a record label and then I'm going to get signed and then I'm going to be rich and famous.' That's how I thought it was going to go down and that was my sort of plan. I had no idea how I was going to enact that plan, but I just blindly started trudging down that path. And then it was just always one little door after another that kept opening. It was just these little sort of victories along the way, these little dangling carrots that I would chase after and then I would get them, and then it would be like, 'Okay. What next? What's next?'”
What’s next for Richardson is as varied as her list of credits, but in the immediate future is performing with her deep well of self-penned songs, which she’s built up over decades as the frontwoman for a list of bands too long to list here, and, in Voice Box, a monthly songwriting and storytelling event she co-hosts outside Chicago for the last eleven years.
“I collaborate with Maureen Muldoon on this show called 'Voice Box,’ where the stories are in a theme of a song title,” she says. “I listen to the storytellers with the audience and then jump up and play a song spontaneously, based on their story. We’ve also been writing some songs and using them for different film projects. So I'm thinking that there may be a new Cathy Richardson album that comes out of it.”
You can see Richardson pull from this catalog of her own songs--and from her Goddesses of Rock showcase celebrating the iconic women of the rock n’ roll era--on tour. In addition to seeing her solo, she’s consistently touring with Jefferson Starship, which she’s been a member of since 2008, when the band’s founder Paul Kantner asked her to join the band after seeing her touring with the original Big Brother’s Holding Company, with whom she played following her days playing Janis Joplin in an off-Broadway stage play called 'Love, Janis' (remember the little doors she mentioned earlier?). In 2020, Jefferson Starship also released their first album since 2008, 'Mother of the Sun,' featuring songs written by Richardson, including 'It’s About Time' co-written with guitarist Jude Gold and Grace Slick.
“The first song we wrote was, 'What Are We Waiting For?' and I played that for Grace, and she cried and she loved it so much. She's like, 'It sounds old and it sounds new and the message is right on.',” Richardson says. “And I said, 'Well, you know, we're doing a whole record. Why don't you send me some words and we'll see if maybe we can make them into a song?' We were watching the Women's March on TV at her house and I said, 'You know, we should write the ultimate female empowerment anthem.' I'm like, it's about time. Let us run the world, guys. Come on. It's about time. So, she sent me these “It's About Time” lyrics and I grabbed bits and pieces of it and Jude Gold had this riff that he had been playing with, and I wrote a chorus and we put it together for the album.”
As she enters her fourth decade carving her own unique trail through the thickets of the music industry, Richardson’s live shows--for herself and for her various projects--are the thing that keep her going through new doors and accepting new challenges, the thing that makes sticking it out through unforeseen twists and turns worth it.
“When I was really young, I performed a Barbara Streisand song for a talent show. I did my thing with my costume and I belted it out, and at the end, everyone jumped up out of their seats, applauding. And I was terrified. I was like, 'What's happening?,” she remembers. “And I walked off the stage shaking, and my mom meets me backstage, so excited. 'Cathy, they gave you a standing ovation.' And I'm like, 'What does that mean?' And she said, 'That means they really liked you.' And that was it, man. That was the litmus. I was like, 'I need to make them stand up every time.'”
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