Now Hear This: Katie Garibaldi

Although she is often working behind the scenes, Katie Garibaldi has a significant impact on what you read in the pages of Guitar Player.

Although she is often working behind the scenes, Katie Garibaldi has a significant impact on what you read in the pages of Guitar Player. She transcribes probably 95-percent of the staff ’s interviews (typically when the writer is in panic mode over a looming deadline), helps proof copy, assists with special projects, and is generally happy to lend a hand at any time. But she’s also a gifted songwriter with a gorgeous voice who has worked hard to fund her albums, book her own tours, and deal with all the promo and marketing strategies critical to life as an independent artist. She took on the producer’s role for her new release, Follow Your Heart [Living Dream Music], creating more of a country slant to her music, adding horns, co-writing for a small string ensemble, and letting her recent marriage inform the compositions.

“I had a clear vision about how I wanted this album to sound, so I was determined to take creative control—especially as these songs are some of my most personal songs yet,” says Garibaldi. “I found a confidence in myself to wear the producer’s hat, and, in fact, that made me stronger as an artist. I found a way to communicate what I wanted to hear by explaining the stories and emotions of my songs to the musicians, and it was a natural and intuitive process. Producing this album helped me learn that I can trust my instincts as an artist in the studio.”

Garibaldi wanted to transfer the pure energy of the musicians to the listener, so she cut the basic tracks live, singing and playing her Luna Trinity-Artist and Breedlove C25/SMYE Custom guitars along with the drums and bass. Excepting a couple of guitar and vocal fixes, the only overdubs on the album are the guest musicians.

“When you go with your intuition and stay true to yourself, things always work out,” she says.

As a member of the singer-songwriter community, Garibaldi has always been supportive of other artists, and she has taken several trips to Nashville and Austin to experience those cities’ nurturing live-performance and songwriting scenes. But she has also been a bit of an outsider—following her own muse, rather than engaging in multi-songwriter collaborations, or trying to break into the so-called hit-making machinery.

“I think too many people are following the leader, instead of thinking of their own ways to express themselves,” she says. “There’s this whole community out there teaching formulas and the rights and wrongs of songwriting. But the result is everyone writing the same thing. To me, that’s a very silly concept. Songwriting is such a personal thing, and art is supposed to be unique and creative. Songs should come from the heart—not from a set of rules.”