HerSong: Kate McDonnell Plays Backwards and Upside Down
Upstate based musician Kate McDonnell was introduced to folk music at just four years old and shortly after began teaching herself to play the guitar... upside down and backwards. Her unique style of playing has taken her on tours across the world and to some of the most storied venues such as the Newport Folk Festival, Mountain Stage, and the Kennedy Center. After a 15 year hiatus, McDonnell returned to music in 2021 with her fifth album, "Ballad of a Bad Girl".
Kate's musical journey starts when she first heard a Joan Baez album and started to teach herself how to play guitar. Strung for a right-handed player, Kate played left-handed "upside down and backwards," using her right hand for chording and ignoring conventional positioning. She began performing in the eighties alongside her sister Anne and the duo opened for legendary musicians like Bob Dylan, Suzanne Vega, and Judy Collins. In the early nineties McDonnell launched her solo career with the self-produced album Broken Bones and has released four additional albums since, with her most recent being recorded at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock.