Kate Targan brings
new light to her music
by Paul Freeman, San Jose Mercury News | April 2014
Kate Targan worked for several years as an energy healer. Now the singer-songwriter is making people feel better through her beautiful music.
Her diverse debut album, “From The Light,” shines with delicately, expertly crafted songs. Targan’s voice, sweet and gentle, is deeply affecting.
“It’s something I dreamed of doing since I was like 12 years old,” she says, of completing the album. “There were lots of obstacles to overcome. It’s been three and a half years since I started the process. But things started to open up, I put together the funding, I went on this big journey and all the songs came to me really quickly and just fell into place. And then it happened!
“Before that, it never seemed to be the right timing to sit down and write a full album’s worth of my own music, just having to pay my bills and trying to live a normal life. But I decided to go on a short tour in northern Spain with a blues band, and it gave me the freedom to be consumed with music. I wrote probably half the album while I was over there, and then came back here, moved up to Woodside, and with nature surrounding me, I was able to crank out the rest of it. I spent a lot of time in the redwoods. So the album was half inspired by travel and adventure and half inspired by being in pseudo-isolation here.”
The beauty of Woodside inspired her to write the song, “From The Light,” and the album’s most personal and poignant tune, “Roberta Blue.”
“It’s ultimately the story of a woman who had a dream and was never able to fully realize her dream. And I weaved in my own story, my trauma from my childhood and all the things that have kept me from moving forward and coming out as an artist. That song, once I had written it, was like a healing completion. It gave me strength to move forward with my career, to commit more to my musicianship and to want to share my story with the public.”
Targan grew up in Los Angeles, daughter of a physician and a homemaker. “My family has always been loving and supportive of my life and my music. My hardships and struggles were a result of forces outside my nuclear family. It’s the human condition to have wounding and to go through challenging life experiences. I was not the most confident of kids. I had to put my dream aside, because I felt like I didn’t really have the gumption to make it happen.”
She studied at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing in Florida. There, Targan learned the ancient art of hands-on energy healing, which is designed to rebalance the body’s energy field and eliminate blockages, thus restoring health. Through the four-year course, she earned certification.
“The more your energy is flowing naturally, through your system, the more energy you’re going to have for life, ultimately,” Targan says. “It’s comprehensive, because it deals with their physical, emotional and spiritual issues.
“Through that program I had to work through a lot of my own personal issues, things that were preventing me from being more fully alive in this world. In the school, they say you can only take your client as far as you’ve gone. I spent those four tears doing some really deep work. And that was work I needed to do before I could come out more fully as an artist.”
She hopes to bring that healing sensibility into her music, for the benefit of her audiences. “It’s a matter of taking risks, sharing as intimately as I can my emotional landscape, bringing that out on stage, bringing the community together through shows. I’d like to travel beyond the Bay Area, doing integrative workshops before the shows, to help people examine what might be blocking them from living their creative dreams and sharing more of themselves.
“I’d like to create a platform for more consciousness and healing. I don’t want to promote myself as a spiritual healer, necessarily, but I want to be able to help people be more free in themselves. I’m working on the outline for a Kickstarter video to get the funding and to start the marketing and process for that.”
Her music is certainly uplifting. “My intention is that the music is listener friendly, but also evokes some kind of emotional inquiry.”
Her early inspirations include Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Alison Krauss, Norah Jones and Joni Mitchell.
After moving to Northern California, living for several years in Santa Cruz, Targan worked at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. “That was invaluable. I saw some of the best jazz artists in the world come through this tiny little club. And then I was able to work in hospitality at Monterey Jazz Festival.”
Her connections at Kuumbwa led to Targan joining a blues band, Jody’s Jukejoint. While touring with them overseas, she met award-winning Spanish artist Xoan Curiel, who joins Targan for a duet, “Nos,” on her album.
Targan, 31, will be joined by her full band for the album launch at Angelica’s on Friday. Her music combines elements of jazz, blues, folk and country, as well as the world music she encountered in her travels. “I would like to take listeners on my journey with me and the world music is a piece of that. I know it can be a bit of a risk to have such an eclectic album, but I hope that my voice connects it all together. The feedback I’ve gotten is that it does work. “I don’t want to pigeonhole myself as a spiritual healer who writes music. There’s a huge spiritual component to my history and my education and who I am. And I want to incorporate that into my music, but not make people afraid to listen because they think it’s going to be some kind of woo-woo experience, something that might be ethereal and hard for them to pinpoint. I want my music to reach people, to touch them, to help them feel really grounded. And also to present a sense of hope and expansiveness, which, for me, is where the spirituality comes in.”
People have reacted emotionally to her songs. “Some listeners, when they hear ‘Roberta Blue,’ they just start sobbing. I put into that all my personal wounding and overcoming that, coming out on the other side. And, wow, you can create something that sounds really powerful, that can affect the listener like on a cellular level. So, for some people, the feedback I’ve gotten, is that the song has helped them heal something in themselves and gives them the strength and encouragement to explore what they want from themselves or to try something that they haven’t tried before.”
Strolling through sunlight,
dancing through shadow
kate targan's "from the light" takes visitors on a
deeply satisfying journey
by David Lessem, media writer | August 2013
Every song on Kate Targan’s debut album, From the Light, is eminently listenable. Effortlessly striding across diverse styles and produced in a way that feels simultaneously meticulous and authentic, there isn’t an awkward or unbalanced tune here. Yet for all that, it challenges audiences in ways that most music this accessible won’t. It is gentle enough to put on in the background, but it asks to be listened to. Its songs stand on their own, but they want to be heard as a whole album, a whole journey.
The album starts with the track La Despedida, a wistful bluegrass departure reminiscent of Alison Krauss. With a voice combining a vulnerable airiness and fray with a studied jazz suppleness, Targan sings a goodbye to someone she still loves. Gentle guitar finger picking, sweet and simple piano lines and tasteful touches of steel guitar move accompany the singer through a bittersweet parting. By the second track, however, she will be on the other side of the world, in the Spanish bossa nova number Almeria’s Wind.
The thing holding the two tracks together is Targan’s voice. Somehow, her style can find a home anywhere, whether in a country reverie like La Despedida or a nocturnal, jazz romance like Almeria’s Wind. Otherwise, the tracks are different enough to sound like they could be from two different albums the first time you hear them. The steel guitar is traded for a horn, the rhythmic finger picking for expressive chords, and the night mystery, filled out with the subtle sizzle of cymbals and the moody echo of vibraphone. Even the perspective has shifted, with the singer now the one holding on to a lover who must part.
The first switch between styles is a bit surprising on first listen, but becomes eminently gratifying as the logic of the album unfolds. Throughout From the Light, Targan switches back and forth between styles, traveling with the listener through the sunny days and luminous nights of a journey. Songs like Nos and Bilbao develop a moody jazz seduction, alternating with the warm, nostalgic sunlight of country tunes like La Despedida and My Time..
The title track anchors the themes of the album. It begins with the words “Take a walk with me through the moss-grown trees, where the dew kissed trees cover sight. There you’ll start to see morning’s golden beams shine down your reflection from the light.” This trip is not just about adventure and romance, but about healing. Alternating between leaving and returning, between longing and passion, the singer seeks to lead you to a place of wholeness, a mystical moment where the things you seek in the world find their double within you.
The penultimate track, Roberta Blue, brings things full circle. With the lines “Oh Roberta Blue, I wanna sing with you you had a voice and a dream, and no one knew, and now you’ve got lifetimes of dreams to pursue,” Targan seems to be sending an absent loved one on her own journey, as the singer’s own travels draw to a close. A slow, aching ballad with gospel-inflected vocals underscored by flourishes of organ, the song feels like a religious tune, celebrating her friend’s strength and goodness and rejoining in the journeys we all make through life.
The last song, Paving the Way is a gentle lullaby of return. With a piano line sounding sometimes like a music box and, other times, rolling like the strings of an orchestral harp, Targan celebrates a tender return to a lover. “Let’s blink our lashes like butterflies, and even though I’m shy, I won’t go away,” she sings, turning down the lights in a homecoming with the same necessity, the same tenderness as the departure.
There are many levels to enjoy this album on. You can listen to individual songs and enjoy them as well-crafted tunes. You can play it through and passively move through shifting styles and perspectives in a pleasant idyll. But if you really listen to it, you might get something deeper out of it: a celebration of the partings and reunions, the romances and reconciliations we all make, and a joy in the way we can take all these things with us through life.
Once or so a decade...
by Daniel Highet, Press at Firesign Media | June 2013
Once or so a decade, a recording and performing artist—freely crossing genres, assured and original—enters the music world. One whose debut shows a stylistic reach, wondrous sense of intimacy and emotional intensity that somehow feels as unexpected and inevitable as the experience of falling in love. Singer-songwriter Kate Targan is such a music artist.