By ELIZABETH SCHAFER, Associate Editor
Kathleen Bracken’s voice can be described as indie soulful. Calming, sultry, and versatile, she always leaves you wanting more.
Playing with her voice at a young age, she sang harmonies with her father Dan Bracken at many weddings and church Sundays. Working locally on music in her 20s, she joined her friends in forming the retro-pop group, Those Transatlantics. They enjoyed several years of national touring, releasing their first full-length in 2006. They even enjoyed some time on NPR’s World Cafe, as the artist of the week.
“I loved the group dynamic and touring with the various bands I’ve been part of,” recalled Bracken. But Those Transatlantics parted ways in the spring of 2010.
“I remember what my mother told me a long time ago,” she said, “that you can do everything you want to … just not all at once.” That sound advice is what makes her so versatile.
She has recorded several guest vocals with many of her musical friends, including a duet record with Cameron McGill of Chicago, Illinois. The marriage of their voices on her duets with McGill is beautiful. On the album “Warm Songs for Cold Shoulders,” you can feel the connection of the two friends through the music they created together.
Bracken, now 31, has also spent some time on her solo music, working toward recording and producing a full record. It is hard not to notice her song-writing talents. She has a way of putting words together that makes you wonder what and how she was feeling at the time. Harmonizing comes so naturally and she makes singing seem effortless. She does all of this and maintains her own unique style.
“Now I just do it for myself and for anyone who wants to listen,” she explained. “The one thing I do miss is the long nights in the recording studios, drinking tea (and maybe a little whiskey). You have that feeling that you are part of something so much bigger than yourself.
“Then when it’s all done, you can hear the results of the work you did, and it leads you to recall how you felt in the very moment,” she continued. “The songs themselves start out with their own individual meaning, but the collection of songs takes on its own meaning about the specific time in your life. It’s pretty magical.”
Bracken now resides in Mt. Pleasant, where she continues to work on music, works as a yoga instructor, and can occasionally be found in quiet venues performing with various members of her family and talented friends.
She is scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. March 12 in Art Reach’s Wellspring Series. Accompanying her will be her brother, Micah Bracken, who was last year’s captain for the MMCC soccer team. He also plays guitar and performs lead vocals with his local band, The New DayDreamers.
Art Reach’s Wellspring is a monthly literary series in which local and national authors read their poetry and written works with music intertwined. Robert Fanning, an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Central Michigan University, is the founder and facilitator of the series. “I started the series as a way to bring some of Michigan’s premiere poets and writers to Mt. Pleasant, to share their work with members of our community,” explained Fanning.
In addition to Bracken, the featured reader on March 12 is Caitlin Horrocks. Horrocks is the author of a short story collection called, This Is Not Your City, a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and New York Times Editor’s Choice. Horrocks has won several literary awards and currently lives in Grand Rapids where she is an Assistant Professor of Writing.
Now in its third year, the Wellspring Literary Series is growing. “Our readings often bring in 75-100 people, an audience that is standing-room only for the community gallery, Art Reach, that hosts the series,” Fanning said. “The best way to know how great this series is, is to come out and experience it yourself!”
Art Reach is located at 111 East Broadway St. in downtown Mt. Pleasant.