By Dan Williams
“I want to bring honesty, substance, and integrity back into music.” – Katie Buxton
It was March 2011 when I met Katie Buxton and her mother Mary. They had contacted me to shoot her first CD cover out in Chester County near their home. Buxton was fourteen with a pocketful of songs and a serious sense that she wanted to pursue music. She brought her favorite guitar to the shoot and we wandered around the grounds of an old estate shooting and talking as we went. Along the way, I spotted a beautiful yellow feather with a black tip and handed it to her. She tucked it under the strings of her guitar headstock and that became a pretty little accent to her shoot.
As time went by, Buxton graduated from high school and, having no ties, she and her mom loaded up the car and moved to Nashville. She became a songwriting major at Belmont University. As her touring increased, she felt she needed to switch to an online program through Berkley. She is driven for sure!
In 2015, she studied abroad in Ireland where she would take classes on a bus and write for days on the cliffs looking out at the sea. It was there when she had what she describes as “an epiphany from the sky. A moment hit with 100% clarity. I realized I am an artist and am meant to share with other people.” Her music is thoughtful, positive and inspirational, but she can also hit harsh topics hard when she wants.
As an example, take the hymn-like “Heavenly Father.” After twelve years of Catholic school, she has a few things on her mind. While it begins by asking pointed questions about God and her education, it is actually a love letter of thanks to her mom. Katie is most proud of Mary, a scrappy single mom who never married, worked many jobs while raising her and supports her every minute of her day.
“Heavenly Father, they tell me a baby / Born out of marriage is a sign of wicked sin / So why then do I see no evil / When I look to my mother who gave me everything on her own”
Her observational abilities come through on the fun, lilting Jack Johnson-like “Words are Dead.”
“Somebody told me the other day / That stories don’t matter anymore / As long as people have a melody / They’ll sing words they’ve never even heard before”
Followed playfully in the chorus with:
“So there’s nothing in this chorus / Except empty words that don’t mean a thing / And how long will it take you to notice / Or are you just happy to have something to sing / Even if I choke I wonder if anybody would know / Or if words are really dead”
Her best performing song on Spotify is the lovely “You Flew,” but her personal favorite is “Revolution.” All four of these tunes are on her 2017 release something Different.
I met up with Katie and Mary again in November. It was our first time seeing each other since our 2011 shoot. She was performing at Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square. It is a lovely listening room that was packed with local friends and family for her Thanksgiving homecoming. She played a nice long set with stories about each song as lead-ins. We sat for a long time catching up. Her maturity is notable and her serious approach to her craft is commendable.
Touring takes her around the country to 40-60 stops a year. And now she’s returning to Philly on February 3rd. This time she will play World Café Live with her friends from The GoAround. Come and meet Katie and say hello to Mary.
By the way, Katie tells me she still has that feather!
Video of Buxton’s beautiful and haunting “You Flew”
(Photos by Dan Williams)