Despite what my self-building reputation as an enigmatic poet may tell you, there are two things fairly obvious in my regular appearances at the Sacred Grounds Coffee House and other open mics and venues. My sheer presence may hint at my love of and appreciation of home-grown music and local artists. The beer belly that one of my good friends frequently rubs asking “Aww, when is it due” also tells you that I do so enjoy a good meal. One day, as I sat eating the twelfth Oreo in one sitting, I was informed of who this month’s Sacred Spotlight would be shining around. My heart, stomach, and ears all danced (metaphorically, mind you), as I realized it was not only a regular comrade and personal favorite local artist, but also probably the only person I know who can combine my two great sensory loves together. That whimsical wonder is none other than Keyboard Cathy.
The name may seem simple, but “Keyboard Cathy” Wiegand is far from what meets the eye, or the ear for that matter. From humble origins as a musical theater extraordinaire, Cathy received a formal education at both Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson University. However, I don’t need to drab on about the details of the past. Well that is, expect for what turned out to be a defining moment for Cathy: the moment in which she evolved from a rambling performer into the musical sensation we all know her to be today. You see, this was the moment in which the world was about to end.
No, it wasn’t our world that was ending, despite what the hurricane pounding outside as I write this suggests, but the planet Earth in the 2005 film adaptation of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You may recall the particular scene in which multiple pods of dolphins dove out of the ocean with the refraining proclamation of, “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.” It was as this jazzy, big-band version of the song played as part of the closing credits whenCathy’s own heart leaped out of the waters of obscurity and began completing her own projects and songs. So inspired by her now hero, Neil Hannon, frontman of Irish pseudo-pop band The Divine Comedy who sang the the vocals for the aforementioned song, was KC that she completed her first album in 2006 (perhaps unironically named Inspiration). It was then that the legend of Keyboard Cathy was born.
What is it about Keyboard Cathy that has been captivating audiences for the past decade, you ask? Well let me put it to you this way: have you ever been having a rough day, stumble into a coffee house after work, order your tea, and then sit there somber, brooding over the turmoils of life, only to have your spirit do a complete 180 at the uplifting tune of a Roland E-600 keyboard and jovial voice and lyrics? No? Well then you certainly haven’t heard KC perform because that is exactly what it feels like!
Keyboard Cathy has not only a happy, uplifting feeling to her music, but she sings on a vast variety of topics. If you’ve ever heard her perform at Sacred Grounds, or anywhere else for that matter, you may find that her most frequent theme tends to make audiences hungry. No, not for different tunes, loser! For actual food! Keyboard Cathy is perhaps the only musician on this planet that can slam down a song called “Peanut Butter” or “Sashimi” and not only have it tickle not only your appetite, but your soul as well. I don’t think there has been a single performance from KC that I haven’t cracked a huge smile for, and that’s saying something coming from a poet known for depressing material!
But don’t misunderstand me; Keyboard Cathy isn’t just about gimmicky show tunes, although show tune-y pop isn’t a bad assessment for her particular style of music. While theatrical in nature, Cathy sings on a variety of topics besides food, but all with a positive message. For example, her song “Give a Little More” is all about helping out one’s fellow man in the best way one can. Armed with her signature keyboard, and if you’re lucky, a kazoo, KC has crafted a musical style that is bright, witty, and dazzling. Why, I could easily see KC’s tunes being showcased in a hit movie someday… though perhaps we’ll just do dinner first.
Today, Keyboard Cathy is for sure a local legend, but also somewhat of an internet sensation. With three albums currently on the market, KC is also making waves with a pair of music videos (the two aforementioned food-related songs) that have collectively over 150,000 views. She’s even going to be featured on "Musicians Wanted,” a Sunday night music and interview show on 88.5 WMNF-FM on October 23rd, which is surely a spot of honor in the community.
Here at Sacred Grounds Coffee House though, Keyboard Cathy is more than just one of our favorite performers, she is one of our good friends. Every Monday (for at least as far back as I can remember) at our weekly open mic, Cathy opens the night as the first musical guest and sets the mood as one of bolstered creativity and boosted spirits. I know I look forward to this tradition every week, even if some of her catchier songs become stuck in my head for a few days after that. Even off stage, Cathy is one of the most friendly people I know and without a doubt makes myself and others feel that much more welcome in the little community we have at Sacred Grounds. On behalf of Sacred Grounds, and personally as a fellow member of the community, I would like to thank Keyboard Cathy for her continued support of the House and all its artists and for gracing our stage with her unparalleled talent!
So what is the next course in the buffet that is Cathy’s musical career? Well, I’m not going to give away too many spoilers, but rumor (and social media for all you non-fans of my dramatic effect) has it that there is a killer music video for “Sushi Lover” in the works. That and so much more will be available soon on KC’s revamped website, which will be coming very shortly to a dinner plate, I mean internet browser, near you. In the meantime, you can follow all of Keyboard Cathy’s music, videos, live performances, and all antics in between on her social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Please like/follow/whatever-the-cool-kids-do-these-days because there are some exciting things being dished out by this phenomenal star. As KC herself often says, history will be made!
With whatever the future holds for Keyboard Cathy, we wish her the absolute best in all of her endeavors. And, of course, we also wish you the best in your present and future. I see a trip to the supermarket for this odd craving for sushi I suddenly have in my future, but maybe that’s just me. Until next time, keep on shining and I hope you all have the joy that KC aims to foster in her music in every facet of your lives. Be well!