Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z

Margolis, Kitty (Katherine Kahn)

Margolis, Kitty (Katherine Kahn), singer; b. San Mateo, CA, 7 November 1955. Margolis is a fourth generation Californian with deep roots in the state, and in the city of San Francisco. Her great-grandfather was a gold rush pioneer, her grandmother survived the 1906 quake, and her grandfather was the president of the famous Market Street Railway.

Growing up with the San Francisco Sound and experience had a big influence on Kitty. As a youngster, she was glued to underground radio stations like the legendary KSAN, in the days preceding strict formats, when Ramsey Lewis was spun alongside the Beach Boys. John Lee Hooker and Santana, and Tower of Power was a local band playing at her high school dance. When she was still a kid, she would go to the Fillmore and Winterland and see all sorts of bands on the same bill-Miles, the Dead, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Traffic, Gary Burton, Muddy Waters, John McLaughlin, Taj Mahal, Buffalo Springfield, Charles Lloyd, Frank Zappa and BB King. The young music fan became a musician when she got her first guitar, and soon she had taught herself to play folk, country-rock and blues, emulating her heroes Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt and creating bands with her friends during high school, among them her first singing partner, actress Polly Draper, later of "Thirtysomething" fame. Her formative years also found Margolis voraciously absorbing sounds from around the world from the field recordings she collected of indigenous music from Appalachia to Africa. One of her most defining moments came when, while a freshman at Harvard University, she went to visit relatives in New York and saw Rahsaan Roland Kirk at the Village Vanguard. At age 20, after performing professionally with a Western Swing band around the Boston Area at night while maintaining Dean's list standing at Harvard by day, Kitty moved back to the Bay Area. She had decided she wanted to be a jazz singer and learn recording studio arts, and San Francisco State was the place to do both. There she studied with saxophonists John Handy and Hal Stein. The two musicians soon were inviting her to join them on gigs. In San Francisco's bohemian North Beach neighborhood, home of the Beat Generation, Kitty soaked up the classic jazz recordings that filled the bins of the neighborhood used record store where she worked part-time and regularly sat in with Joe Louis Walker's blues band at San Francisco's oldest and funkiest club, The Saloon, and at the jams Bob by McFerrin hosted around the corner at a little bar called Cadell Place. During her first jam session at Keystone, Kitty sang Charlie Parker's solo on 'Billie's Bounce' for her idol Eddie Jefferson. Soon afterwards, Kitty started her first professional jazz band, with Eddie Henderson, Pee Wee Ellis, and Joyce Cooling. Margolis started Mad-Kat Records in 1988 after she suffered a serious back injury.
Her records and concert performances have found her at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Holland's North Sea Jazz Festival, The Sydney International Festival of the Arts, the Monterey Jazz Festival, London's Royal Festival Hall, Gstaad's Yehudi Menuhin Festival, the Telluride Jazz Festival, the Tel Aviv Opera House, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Hamburg's Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, Seattle's Earshot World Jazz Festival and The Boston Pops. She's also sung at many of the world's top jazz clubs, from Tokyo to New York to Paris.
Over the years Margolis has performed and recorded with many of the greatest names in jazz and blues, including Joe Henderson, Lionel Hampton, Elvin Jones, Roy Hargrove, Charles Brown, Hank Jones, Herb Ellis, John Handy, Joe Louis Walker, Red Holloway, David "Fathead" Newman, Pee Wee Ellis, and Eddie Henderson. She has also performed and/or recorded with such diverse artists as rap group The Coup and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead. Her lyrics have been sung by artists such as Dianne Reeves, and her song "It's You" has become an underground remix hit in Tokyo and London.
Margolis is also deeply committed to jazz education. She is on the faculty of the Jazzschool in Berkeley, CA. and gives workshops, master classes and private lessons at high schools and colleges as she travels the globe. Her arrangements and scat solos have been studied, transcribed, and recorded by numerous college jazz vocal ensembles. In 2001 she accepted an appointment by the The International Association of Jazz Education (I.A.J.E.) to chair the I.A.J.E. Jazz Vocal Resource Team. Several of her students have gone on to develop successful recording careers of their own.

Live At The Jazz Workshop (1989); Evolution (featuring Joe Henderson and Joe Louis
Walker, 1994); Straight Up With A Twist (featuring Roy Hargrove and Charles Brown, 1997); Left Coast Life (2001); Heart and Soul: Live in San Francisco (2004)
As sideperson:
Dan Buegeliesen: West Coast Alternative Corridor;

Bammie (Bay Area Music Award) "Best Jazz Vocalist 1997
Down Beat Voted  Winner "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" in the 1999
International Critics' Poll  (Also voted "TDWR" in 1998, 1997, 1995 and 1994)
and 2004 (Jazz Vocal Rising Star)
The IAJE Journal  and Jazz USA   Voted Left Coast Life one of the Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2001
Soul Train "Lady Of Soul" Award  1999
The Village Voice Critic's Poll - Evolution  is one of 1994's Best Jazz
"Left Coast Life" Nominated For California Music Award "Best Jazz Recording" 2003

www.lejazz.com (English & French)

Contact information:
Mad-Kat Records
P.O. Box 330425
San Francisco, CA USA 94133
ph. 415/397-9361   fx. 415/398-6964
Kitty Margolis: kittym@kittymargolis.com
Mad-Kat Records: madkatrecords@kittymargolis.com

Back to Top