Meet this month’s featured artist
Kat Spina is our latest featured artist in The River Recordings series. See her perform a full-showcase at Rafter's Tavern in Callicoon, NY on November 30.
There are a lot of musicians who wouldn’t be willing to make the two-hour-long drive from New York City to Narrowsburg, NY just to sing three songs in front of a camera in a small newspaper office. But when you’ve endured “the grind” that is the NYC-music scene and made it out the other end, as our featured River Recordings artist Kat Spina has, it takes more than long drives to deter you from a gig.
Besides, this trip is nothing foreign to the singer-songwriter, recording artist and music teacher. Spina spent her childhood summers in Narrowsburg in a cabin that her grandfather built. She now comes here as a reprieve from city life any chance she gets.
Spina’s latest single, “Play it Loud,” is an ode to those early memories in her dad’s car en route to Sullivan County, the stereo turned way up.
“That song is really remembering those car rides up here from the city, with my dad’s music blasting in the background,” she said. “Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart and the soundtrack that filled that part of my life.”
Spina’s music infuses a personal, narrative lyrical style with the upbeat rhythms and modern instrumentation heard in today’s pop music.
It wasn’t long before Spina transitioned from singing along to the car radio, to performing on stage. At age eight, Spina performed “A Whole New World” in her third-grade talent show.
“That performance is so vivid in my mind of just getting on stage and connecting, and just feeling the joy of singing and the joy from the audience,” she said.
By 10 years old she was taking professional vocal lessons. Her education in music continued with a dual degree in jazz performance and music therapy from SUNY New Paltz. After graduating in 2006, Spina got serious about songwriting, composing her first album “Engaging the Muse.” She soon moved back to the city to embark on the grind.
“I needed to go through some life, to make the music really happen the way my heart wanted it to,” she said.
During those “exhausting” years, Spina did anything she could to support herself—house concerts, private parties, songwriting collaborations, music lessons. By 2013, she needed a break.
She recalls telling her dad, “I’ve probably spent more time marketing and managing the business side of things than being creative. That’s got to change.”
And so, Spina took several years off from professional music, studying communications at Pace University, and returned to the scene in 2017 with a new approach. She now has a team of people around her, relieving her of some of the pressures of the industry, allowing her to refocus her energies on creativity.
“It’s all about balance,” she said. “Moving this music forward from this place of complete happiness; I’m just so happy to be in a position where I can sing my heart, be vulnerable, be truthful, be honest and not make any excuses about it anymore.”