We first met Kat Edmonson nearly four years ago, when All Songs Considered put out a challenge to songwriters on the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration. We asked musicians around the country to capture the moment in song, and Edmonson, a native of Texas, wrote and sent us "Be the Change." It was clearly the best song we received, and she sang it with a unique voice and wonderful phrasing — so spot on. Later, we loved her cover of the George Gershwin-DuBose Heyward standard "Summertime."
Hearing Edmonson makes it virtually impossible to do anything but stop and listen. It was clear, hearing the 29-year-old interpret "Summertime," that the era around the 1930s and '40s was a rich place for her voice.
These days, Edmonson plays with guitarist Steve Elliot, writing some of her own songs, digging deep into the spirit of those more artistically innocent times, and she finds contemporary writers who tell tales of longing and desire and more. On her new album Way Down Low, and now at the Tiny Desk, Edmonson is no longer simply inspired by days gone by; with that fragile voice, she's given it new life. In a digital and branded age, she stands out soft and clear.
- "Hopelessly Blue"
- "I Don't Know"
Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Christopher Parks/Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Christopher Parks, Lauren Rock; photo by Ryan Smith/NPR