Delta, B.C., native Kat Higgins has found her voice in Nashville. Photo courtesy The B.C. Catholic

Inner child takes Kat Higgins to Nashville’s heights

By  NICHOLAS ELBERS, Canadian Catholic News
  • January 19, 2022

Singer songwriter Kat Higgins has finally discovered her Vancouver voice, and it only took relocating to Nashville a decade ago to find it.

“I found my B.C. voice in Nashville,” said the Delta, B.C., native who at 22 moved to the songwriting capital of the world to pursue her music career. “I arrived here and found my voice and maturity.”

Raised a Catholic, Higgins grew up in a musical family that went to weekly Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish. The middle child of seven, she enjoyed success as a teenager after joining with siblings John and Eileen to form The Higgins, winning multiple B.C. Country Music Association awards.

Her aim had long been to move permanently to Nashville with her siblings, she said, “but God had different plans.” She left for Nashville alone after John and Eileen decided to stay in Vancouver. They get back together when Kat returns home for visits but are otherwise not active.

Those early years in a new city were difficult for Higgins, who missed being near her family.

“My sister and I are really close. We grew up doing makeup in the same mirror,” she said.

But she is grateful for the opportunities and success she found in Nashville, culminating in “Knowing You,” a song she co-wrote for country superstar Kenny Chesney that climbed all the way to number one on the country charts last month.

In addition to writing music for record label BMG, she recently began releasing solo recordings of her own songs that offer a departure in style from the bluegrass and country sound The Higgins were known for.

Despite acknowledging her roots, Higgins avoids labelling her music, which has been shaped by many influences, from her father’s love of rock and Irish music to her appreciation for singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.

As for whether she considers herself a Christian artist, she prefers to describe herself simply as a singer-songwriter, adding that while she has some unreleased songs that could be defined as Christian, “I like secular popular music too.”

But faith continues to be an important part of her life and work, and she takes a subtle approach to conveying meaning in her music, relying on the power of storytelling to tell “universal truths without actually saying them.”

Higgins said she has been influenced by songs like Tim McGraw’s “Red Ragtop,” about abortion that doesn’t wear its message on its sleeve.

“It paints the bad consequences of abortion without coming out and saying (abortion is bad),” she said.

In 2020, she released her first single, “Let’s Go Driving,” about a boy who goes for late-night drives with his mom when things get hard at home. The song is a bittersweet meditation on the beauty that can shine through the darkest moments in life.

She also did an interview with American Songwriter that year in which she described the deeper significance of writing the song in the voice of a child.

“I feel like many of us, at some point in our lives, encounter our child-self,” she said. “The child-self wants to believe in people and look for good outcomes. For me, this song is about finding hope and strength and listening to the child within.”

This illustrates an important aspect of her writing: her belief in trusting her inner child to direct not only her art but also her relationship with God.

“I definitely (come) to God as a child,” she said. “I prefer talking to God as this sort of excited child” — for example sharing her joy of seeing autumn foliage.

“You go outside and see these bright orange trees and you say, ‘Oh God this is so cool.’ It feels clearer to approach God that way — like a kid. I want to have that wonder.”

With her hope-filled song-writing philosophy and its potential for light to peek through darkness, Higgins appreciates the gifts God has given her. They may not have been the gifts she expected when she embarked on her career in Delta, but they’re the ones allowing her to follow her plan of simply keeping the faith while writing and singing the stories she loves.

“It is easy to become jaded, especially in the music industry,” she said. “The more child-like I become, the better I am.”

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