Kathi Macdonald A Singer’s Singer Passes On
Submitted by Don Graham
As a singer, it’s always nice to get the call to sing on someone’s album. Kathi Macdonald got that call many times from rock legends like The Rolling Stones, Leon Russell, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Long John Baldry, Nils Lofgren, Delaney and Bonnie, Dave Mason, Rita Coolidge and Ike and Tina Turner. That’s how respected she was and proves the value and talent attributed to the power of Kathi's voice. Her soulful, passionate vocals and her phrasing, great timing and tone are good reasons her vocals are such an important part of so many hit records.
Born in Anacortes in Washington State in 1948 and living in Seattle, Macdonald performed professionally for the first time when she was 12 years old. Kathi recalls her parents (after coming home from a night at the local Elks club) waking her up and having her sing from her crib. The first song she fully learned was "Goodnight Irene" by Huddie Leadbetter and at age 2 she would sing all 5 verses from her crib. She was used to late night singing at a very young age.
At 19 years old she moved to San Francisco and joined Ike and Tina Turner as an Ikette. She then did some work with Big Brother & the Holding Company, post Janis Joplin. In 1972 she recorded "Insane Asylum" for Capitol Records. The album was Co-Produced by David Briggs and Pete Sears. Sears was also musical arranger and played keyboards and bass, as well as writing several of the album's songs with Kathi.
Another album, “Save Your Breath” was released over 20 years after Insane Asylum. “Above and Beyond” followed in 1999, featuring musical contributions from Lee Oskar on harmonica and Brian Auger on keyboards.
Macdonald devoted more than two decades to recording and performing in collaboration with Long John Baldry, and the duo scored with their version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" when it was released in Canada and in Australia it reached as high as #2. In later years, she also contributed to the Seattle Women in Rhythm and Blues project. She reunited with Big Brother & the Holding Company in California for a concert on New Year's Eve, 1997. She was inducted into the Washington Blues Society's Hall of Fame two years later 1999.
Kathi McDonald passed away unexpectedly on October 3, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. She was 64 years old.