Kathy Kallick

Kathy Kallick (born September 19, 1952, in Chicago, IL) is an American bluegrass musician, bandleader, vocalist, guitar player, songwriter, and recording artist.

Kathy Kallick
Background information
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresBluegrass, Folk, Americana
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar, Upright Bass
LabelsLive Oak Records, Copper Creek Records, Sugar Hill Records, Kaleidoscope/Flat Rock Records, Bay Records, Rounder Records, Spruce and Maple Music
Associated actsKathy Kallick Band, Good Ol' Persons


Kallick's mother, Dodi Kallick, was a leading member of the Chicago-area folk music scene of the 1950s and '60s. She helped establish Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music and was the first performer at the No Exit Cafe (in Rogers Park, Chicago), introducing traditional musicians such as Frank Proffitt to midwestern audiences.[1] Kallick's father, Bruce Kallick, is an amateur guitarist who gave Kathy a Doc Watson LP record along with her first guitar.[2]

Kallick began performing by singing harmony with her mother, and she attended numerous acoustic music concerts and festivals as a teen. Inspired by other Chicago songwriters of the time such as John Prine, Steve Goodman, and Tom Dundee, she began writing and performing her own songs at coffeehouses. When Kallick accompanied old time fiddler Michael Drayton, she switched from being a fingerpicking to flatpicking guitarist. She discovered bluegrass music while attending the San Francisco Art Institute (BFA, 1977), where the local music scene was welcoming to women and songwriters.[3]



In 1975, Kathy Kallick, Laurie Lewis, Barbara Mendelsohn, Dorothy Baxter, and Sue Shelasky performed three songs at an open mic. This marked the beginning of the Good Ol’ Persons, one of the first all-women bluegrass bands. They released an album in 1977 (by which time Sue was replaced by brother Paul Shelasky) and enjoyed a twenty-year run, releasing five albums and touring throughout the U.S., including two appearances at Bill Monroe's Beanblossom Festival, as well as performances in Canada and Europe.


By 1980, the Good Ol' Persons lineup consisted of Kathy Kallick (guitar), John Reischman (mandolin), Sally Van Meter (dobro), fiddler Paul Shelasky (later Kevin Wimmer), and bassist Bethany Raine (later Beth Weil, then Todd Phillips). They were one of the first bluegrass bands to incorporate Latin, swing, folk, Cajun, and other musical genres into their music, as well as featuring the songwriting, lead playing, and vocal harmonies of women.[4]


After the Good Ol' Persons disbanded, Kallick released three albums under her own name for Sugar Hill Records. In 1996, she formed the Kathy Kallick Band. Personnel for their first ten years and two albums included Tom Bekeny on mandolin, Amy Stenberg on bass, Avram Siegel on banjo, and, for the second, fiddler Brian Wicklund. The current iteration consists of Kallick, Bekeny, Annie Staninec on fiddle, Greg Booth on dobro and banjo, and Cary Black (previously Dan Booth) on bass; they have released three albums: Between the Hollow and the Highrise (2010), Time (2012), and Foxhounds (2015), and the band continues to tour widely across North America and Europe.

Other musical collaborations

Kallick has continued to collaborate with Laurie Lewis since their Good Ol’ Persons days, releasing two albums, the latest of which is a tribute to their bluegrass mentors, Laurie & Kathy Sing the Songs Of Vern & Ray (2014). Kallick and Lewis also toured Japan with an all-star all-women band that also included Sally Van Meter, Lynn Morris, and Markie Sanders. She has also toured and recorded with first generation bluegrass masters Frank Wakefield and Mac Martin, produced albums for High Country and Richard Brandenburg, and written and recorded award-winning music for children and families.[5] Kallick appeared on four high-profile collections of bluegrass songs by women, as well as numerous compilation albums, some of which are included in the discography below.

She has worked with many of the country’s other acclaimed acoustic musicians, including, in addition to those already mentioned, Peter Rowan, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Claire Lynch, Tim O'Brien, Ron Stewart, Jody Stecher, Kate Brislin, Darol Anger, Carol Elizabeth Jones, James Leva, Sandy Rothman, Bill Evans, Molly Tuttle, and Clive Gregson.


Kallick is an experienced instructor, and has offered classes in singing, songwriting, guitar, and band coaching as part of many music camps including the California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, Rockygrass Academy (Colorado), Augusta Heritage Center (West Virginia), Sore Fingers (England), Puget Sound Guitar Workshop (Washington), Nimblefingers (British Columbia, Canada), Bluegrass at the Beach (Oregon), Walker Creek Music Camp (California), and the California Coast Music Camp.


Kallick has won a Grammy[6] and two International Bluegrass Music Awards[7] for True Life Blues: The Songs Of Bill Monroe. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northern California Bluegrass Society [8] and a Lifetime Membership Award from the California Bluegrass Association.[9]


Released Title Label Group
1983I Can’t Stand To RambleKaleidoscopeGood Ol’ Persons
1986Part Of A StoryKaleidoscopeGood Ol’ Persons
1989Anywhere The Wind BlowsKaleidoscopeGood Ol’ Persons
1991TogetherKaleidoscopeLaurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick
1991What Do You Dream About?Live OakKathy Kallick
1993Matters Of The HeartSugar HillKathy Kallick
1995Use A Napkin (Not Your Mom)Sugar HillKathy Kallick
1995Good N’ LiveSugar HillGood Ol’ Persons
1996Call Me A TaxiSugar HillKathy Kallick
1999Walkin’ In My ShoesLive OakKathy Kallick Band
2002My Mother’s VoiceCopper CreekKathy Kallick
2004Reason & RhymeCopper CreekKathy Kallick
2005Warmer Kind Of BlueCopper CreekKathy Kallick Band
2005The Good Ol’ PersonsBay SoundGood Ol’ Persons
2010Between The Hollow & The High-RiseLive OakKathy Kallick Band
2011Count Your Blessings – A Bluegrass Gospel CollectionLive OakKathy Kallick
2012TimeLive OakKathy Kallick Band
2014Cut To The ChaseLive OakKathy Kallick
2014Laurie & Kathy Sing The Songs Of Vern & RaySpruce and MapleLaurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick
2015FoxhoundsLive OakKathy Kallick Band


  1. Jensen, Trevor, "On cutting edge of city's folk scene,” Chicago Tribune
  2. Harris, Craig, AllMusic biography
  3. Henry, Murphy, Pretty Good For A Girl: Women In Bluegrass (University of Illinois Press, 2013)
  4. Henry, Murphy, Pretty Good For A Girl: Women In Bluegrass (University of Illinois Press, 2013)
  5. Rice, Wayne, Bluegrass Bios
  6. https://www.grammy.com/nominees/search?artist=&field_nominee_work_value=True+Life+Blues&year=1996&genre=All
  7. https://ibma.org/awards/recipient-history
  8. http://www.ncbs.us
  9. https://www.cbaweb.org/About/LifetimeMembers
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