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Kate Voegele
With talent like this,
not making it big is "Ridiculous!"

She's young and pretty and just as nice as she could be. She's Kate Voegele the (almost) 19-year-old singing sensation born right here in Bay Village, Ohio.

She comes from a great, supportive family and her singing career is just one path on her road to the future. Her mom, Betsey, loves to sing "privately".

Her father, Will sings and plays the guitar more publicly, including Church. Kate used to go with him when he played at Coffee Houses and Kate credits him with teaching her "everything!"

Kate Voegele playing guitar in concert

Kate Voegele playing guitar in concert

Her father even played in her band for a while, but now he is her manager and biggest fan.

Kate grew up with music and singing. She's been in the choir since she was a small child and sang in Church with her father. She sang in The Riverside Children's Choir.

She is also a member of "Young Life", a youth group described on their website as: "… a non-denominational, Christian organization committed to impacting kid's lives and preparing them for the future. For more than six decades, Young Life has been introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith, while providing strong, positive influences in their lives."

Kate Voegele at Farm Aid concert

Kate Voegele performing at the
Farm Aid concert

Her family and her teachers have always encouraged Kate. Her younger sister, Courtney, is also a big supporter. "I love spending time with her." Courtney herself is into different things. "She's very athletic and plays the drums and violin really well."

Kate started writing music at age 15 in her freshman year at Bay High School. She is still writing. She graduated from Bay High in June 2005. She can't say enough about the support she got from her teachers and fellow students.

She went to her senior prom and, of course, some of her songs were played - without her knowing. "It was a little embarrassing, but funny too." Her friends, being typical teenagers, would always kid her about who a particular song was about.

Kate Voegele in coffeeshop

Kate Voegele could be any teen at a local coffeeshop
- until you hear her music!

Kate remembers one very important spring break she spent in Marco Island, Florida, with her family. (Her entire extended family goes on vacations together). Her father had forgotten his guitar and picked up a cheap one in a local store. Kate asked him to teach her to play.

When she got back he bought her a recorder to record the music she made. She was too shy to have anyone listen to her, so her father, unbeknownst to her, set it up in her room. The whole family listened and loved it and her career evolved from there.

Her dad writes Contemporary Christian music, and, in fact, created his own CD about 8 years ago.

Her first big gig was for Young Life. She was at a Christmas Coffee House in Bay Village, where anyone could play. Her dad had planned on doing some of his original music, but suggested Kate perform instead.

People afterwards told her how wonderful it was, but also how surprised they were to hear her sing. "I grew up really shy. I felt weird even talking to people, even the ones I knew. So they said they never really heard me talk, never mind sing!"

Kate Voegele in recording studio

Kate Voegele in recording studio

Using the recording studio her dad had set up in the house, Kate recorded more music and sent it to some of her dad's contacts. She recalls Rich Engler from Clear Channel in Pittsburgh being a huge springboard for her. He set up her first side stage with Amy Mann and John Mayer.

Kate Voegele in the recording studio

Kate Voegele about to record

At only 16 years old she started playing live concerts and booking future shows. She performed at Farm Aid, and hopes to this year as well.

"Another big break came for me when I hooked up with Mike Farley. He got me hooked up with Hoffman Entertainment, who also handles John Mellencamp."

Kate Voegele with John Mellencamp at Farm Aid

Kate Voegele with John Mellencamp

Farm Aid was an amazing event for Kate. She had been used to playing in front of 3-400 people and now all of a sudden there were 20,000 people. "I saw Jesse Jackson there. He was wearing a shirt that had Dave Mathews name on it - and mine was right under it. On a shirt that Jesse Jackson was wearing. Ridiculous!!!"

Kate Voegele playing guitar

Kate Voegele playing guitar on stage

"Ridiculous" is Kate's way of saying she is blown away or something is really awesome. Each time she says it her eyes get wider and her smile gets brighter. She is truly amazed at her life!

"I was told to go stand in a certain place behind Dave. It turned out Dave was Dave Mathews and I remember thinking Oh My God - I'm staring at the back of Dave Mathew's head! Ridiculous!"

From Farm Aid she flew to Los Angeles to produce more music so she could showcase her talent to labels. Marshal Altman produced her in Los Angeles and they co-authored a song together.

On her recent trip to New York she collaborated on a number of songs with different writers. Kate never records new versions of anyone else's songs, although she does use some of them in her live act.

Kate is focused on her future - but not just her singing future. She will be attending Miami University this fall. She considered NYU but decided it would be easier to go to Miami U and still maintain her singing career.

Kate Voegele in Miami Red Hawks gear

Kate Voegele in Miami Red Hawks gear

Plus, she's a big Red Hawks fan! She will be taking 12 hours and using her AP credits. She's looking forward to playing in the surrounding area.

As an avid artist (she loves to paint and draw) Kate will be majoring in Art Education. She never considered taking a year off "Once you get out of the school loop it's too hard to get back in. I'll find a way to balance it, even if it is a little crazy."

Kate loves to travel and is thrilled with the opportunities her singing has given her. She climbed the Rocky Mountains in Colorado ("Is that ridiculous!?!") And has been to New York, Austin, Chicago and many other places.

Kate Voegele jamming with the band

Kate Voegele jamming with the band

She's found that her wholesome, family oriented values do not hold her back at all as she enters the music world. "Nobody has ever said "Oh she's too wholesome. Good music is what it's all about."

She views Cleveland's local music scene as ridiculous! "There's so much talent here." She doesn't understand why someone like Michael Stanley is not a national star, except to say, "Sometimes success has nothing to do with talent. There's no equation to make success work - sometimes it's just luck."

When she was a bit younger she loved the music of James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell and Carole King. Now, she's more into Patti Griffin, Ryan Adams, Wilco and Jeff Buckley.

She is flattered when people compare her to someone like Joni Mitchell, and is always sure to include Big Yellow Taxi in her live performances. "They often compare me to Michelle Branch - but I don't see it."

Around town you may catch her at the Beachland Ballroom, Tower City or any number of places. You can check her schedule, learn more and even listen to Kate on her web page at www.katevoegele.com.

Kate Voegele singing

Kate Voegele singing

"People think I set out to do this, but I actually stumbled on it by accident. But it's really a lot of fun. I'm taking it a day at a time. It's a serious industry - but you can't take it too seriously."

She remembers the first time she was asked for an autograph. It was at the Christmas Coffee House concert and a camp counselor was the one asking. She signed her name on a Styrofoam plate; in the same way she signs it on her artwork. But she adds, "Thanks for listening" when she signs autographs now - "Having people listen means everything."

You can also see Kate in a Pantene Commercial, which she won by audience vote from an MTV spot. "It is so weird to see myself on MTV or have someone else say they saw me on MTV - It's Ridiculous!"

Kate Voegele

Kate Voegele

The entertainment industry is a large, almost overwhelming business. To look at Kate Voegele you may worry that she will get trampled in the madness, or that the very things that make her special will become jaded or tainted.

Not to worry. Once you have heard her talk or listen to her sing, you know she will not get lost in the pack. She is destined to lead it.

Kate Voegele not making it big? Ridiculous!

Update: Kate recently won the 2005 USA Songwriting Competition in the pop category with her song “Only Fooling Myself,” and is the youngest ever to win the honor in any category.

Kate will also be performing at the USA Songwriting Competition’s South By Southwest showcase on March 16, 2006 in Austin, Texas.

Profiled by Debbie Hanson

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