Babooners are music lovers – that’s how this blog got started. But many of the artists we appreciate work out beyond the edges of the very intense spotlight that shines on the mega-stars who will get all the attention on Sunday night’s Grammy broadcast. Today’s guest blog revolves around one of those hard working musicians.
It was written by Steve Grooms
In the winter of 1995, a southern singer made a northern tour to promote her first CD, arriving in Minneapolis in the middle of a heavy snowstorm. Kate Campbell was born in New Orleans in 1961. She grew up passionately interested in civil rights and all the changes she saw going on in the South. She began writing intelligent songs, folk songs with poetic elegance. Kate called her first CD “Songs From the Levee.”
To promote her evening gig, Kate dropped in on the Morning Show, hosted then by Dale Connelly and Tom Keith. She performed three numbers and said she’d be appearing that evening in a little café that used to sit kittycorner from Odegards’ bookstore, on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.
In spite of the cold and snow, I decided to go. When I go to the restaurant I had to feel sorry for Kate. She was an obscure singer in an obscure venue, performing in the middle of the week during a snowstorm. Her audience consisted of three guys, counting myself. At times like that I don’t think about whether an entertainer is amusing me; I always worry that they won’t have a good impression of Minnesota, and I clap with abandon to show them that Minnesotans have big hearts.
Kate, of course, was gracious. She played guitar and sang her favorite songs as enthusiastically as if this had been a White House concert. Ira, her husband, Ira stood at the back of the room with a box of CDs, enjoying the concert.
When the concert was over I clapped enthusiastically and then approached Ira to buy a CD. He showed me what looked like two different CDs but explained that they were both “Songs From the Levee.” The difference was that there were two versions of the cover art. A little confused, I asked if it mattered which one I bought.
Ira thought, then brandished a CD whose cover featured a yellow watercolor scene. “This is the original cover art,” he said, “and you might as well get it. If Kate’s first CD becomes a collector’s item some day, this one will have more value.”
I was speechless and I looked at him closely to see if he had been kidding. This man had just watched his wife spend an evening serenading three Minnesotans in puffy coats and drippy noses. If he felt humiliated, it sure didn’t show. Instead, he was talking about her first album becoming a collector’s item! I bought the CD with the original art but was too distracted by Ira’s faith in his wife to ask Kate to autograph the jewel case.
On Grand Avenue outside café the snows whirled dreamily like a snow globe. As I stepped into the night I was thinking, “Oh, lady, I hope you love him like he loves you! That man believes in you absolutely. I don’t know what kind of career you are going to have, but I would bet tonight that your marriage is going to go the distance.”
The new company created by Kate and Ira just released her eleventh CD.
Has anyone ever believed in you at a time when you weren’t sure you even believed in yourself?