INTERVIEW: One-on-One with the Iconic Catie Curtis

INTERVIEW: One-on-One with the Iconic Catie Curtis

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slide1Folk rock icon and award-winning songwriter Catie Curtis will be an ambassador for Tomboy Exchange (TomboyX), a Seattle-based lifestyle brand that creates, curates, and cultivates clothing and accessories for women with a tomboy spirit. TomboyX and Catie recently collaborated on a new music video featuring Catie singing “MyShirt Looks Good On You.”

“We are incredibly excited to have Catie Curtis as the first brand ambassador for TomboyX,” said CEO Fran Dunaway. “She’s a creative, talented woman who has never been afraid to stand up for what she believes in.”

Curtis said ever since she was eight years old, she began talking her way out of wearing dresses (and into 70s-style orange pantsuits), she has longed to feel like herself in what she wears. Like many tomboys, over the years Curtis has made countless fashion compromises, whether it’s wearing clothes from the men’s department that don’t fit right, or wearing women’s clothes that fit, but come with unwanted pleats and darts and sport soft, rounded collars.

“Feeling comfortable in my clothes isn’t something I take for granted,” Curtis said. “I am so grateful to discover and spread the gospel of TomboyX, where the clothing is made for women like me.”

Dunaway called Curtis a “folk-rock goddess,” and said she is “strong, smart, and awesome – the perfect representation of a TomboyX woman.”

As a brand ambassador, Curtis will be an advocate for the all the tomboys out there, and will share the fashion of (and inspiration behind) TomboyX with women who have been waiting for a clothing line tailored to fit their personality and tomboy spirit, Dunaway said.

Curtis has released 13 albums, and her music has appeared on hit television shows such as Alias, Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, and Chicago Hope, as well as in films. She won album of the year at the 1997 Gay and Lesbian American Music Awards, and her 2005 song “People Look Around” (co-written with Mark Erelli in response to Hurricane Katrina) won grand prize at the International Songwriting Competition.

Along with being a musician, Curtis founded the Aspire to Inspire initiative to provide funding for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ ASCAP Foundation.  The foundation helps raise funds to purchase instruments for young musicians who can’t afford their own. She also produced 75 benefit concerts for Americans United for Separation of Church and State in 2012, after which Curtis and a group of well-known comedians (including Glee’s Jane Lynch) created a music video for Voices United 2.

The Seattle Lesbian chatted with Curtis exclusively about her career, the fans she loves and the causes – and clothing – closest to her heart.

Boston is home base for you and your family and Bostonians are die-hard CC fans. How are your east and west coast fans different?

They really aren’t very different.  It seems like many of them move back and forth.  West coast fans are always telling me that I should move west and it kills me when they say it because I know they are right!

Are there any songs you play over and over again in concert that you wish you could change/alter in some way if given a second chance to write them?

Yes, and if I feel that way, I just change the lyrics for the live show.  I have written all new verses to “Another Day on Earth,” from Stretch Limousine on Fire, and that’s how I sing it now.  Life is too short to sing lyrics you don’t love.

On the flipside, is there a song or two that you never tire of playing?

I never get tired of “Magnolia Street,” “Kiss that Counted” and “Dad’s Yard.”

What was your initial reaction to hearing the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?

First, ecstatic relief.  Then I started wondering how the ruling will play out in different states. Any way you look at it, it’s a major step forward toward marriage equality.

Being a parent yourself, what advice might you give to hardworking moms with a career and a family to look after?

Try to find your peeps.  We get a lot of support from our Unitarian Fellowship and from a small circle of like-minded parents/families in our community.

If forced to choose, could you share with us one or two of your favorite memories from playing Lilith Fair?

In the middle of the tour, Sarah McLachlin approached me about singing a verse from the Marvin Gaye tune “What’s Going On” as part of the encore.   She brought me in to her HUGE dressing room, which was decorated with her own furniture and tapestries from home.  She pulled the lyrics out of a drawer, and sat singing it to me to be sure I had it.  (I was tempted to be like “No, I don’t understand, let’s try it again. Can I hear you do it one more time?”)

I also really enjoyed singing “Angel From Montgomery” with Bonnie Raitt several times during the tour.

Any word on whether or not there will be another women’s music fest like Lilith in the near future?

No idea.

Which artists are on your collaboration bucket list?

I love Ben Gibbard from “Death Cab for Cutie.” I also admire Emmylou Harris and The Weepies.  I am currently collaborating with Kristen Hall on my new CD.  She is a super talented singer/songwriter and producer.  We co-wrote many of the songs, and she is producing the CD, which will be called The Flying Dream.  It should come out in January 2014. Kristen is known for starting the band Sugarland, but has mostly focused on her own stuff.  I love working with her.

Philanthropy seems to be vitally important in your everyday life. Are there any upcoming projects/issues coming down the pipe?

I am working with Americans United for Separation of Church and State to produce benefit concerts for September 2013.  These shows are called Voices United Concerts and this year will include Melissa Ferrick, Dar Williams, Sarah Silverman, me, and others.  I just had the opportunity to work with Jane Lynch on a video for Americans United, as the Creative Projects Director.

Catie, you recently performed in Seattle at Marination to a roaring crowd. Can you tell us about the special show and what brought you to our neck of the woods?

I learned about the TomboyX clothing company during their Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.  We started communicating, and then in May they made me their first “brand ambassador.”  I have been outfitted in their awesome clothes and I will be spreading the word at every opportunity.

Speaking of TomboyX clothing, what favorite pieces do you have in your closet?

My faves:  I love the Sweet Caroline shirt, the Maggie Blazer (I have it in brown), the LJ Polo as well as the items they are curating, like the Lucky Dog leather bracelets [and] Foster Weld belts.

Can you tell us a little bit about the music video shot in Seattle in July 2013?

Robin Layton, a Pulitzer Prize nominated photographer, shot a music video using the song “My Shirt Looks Good on You,” as a way to celebrate the TomboyX mission.  We shot it at all in one day in Seattle. I haven’t seen it yet, but Robin is amazing so I bet it will be cool.

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