A traumatic brain injury left Kate Callahan without the ability to make music. It also eventually made her into a musician.
Callahan suffered the brain injury at 19 years old while on a skiing trip. Another skiier — a man who fancied himself an “extreme skiier” and had stayed up all night smoking weed with a buddy — crashed into her on the slopes.
“He hit me. He got up. I didn’t,” Callahan recalled. She was left with a frontal-lobe brain hemorrhage.
At first, during therapy, she couldn’t make sense of music or produce musical sounds. Eventually she decided, as part of her recovery, to learn a new instrument, the guitar. Music had always been important to her.
She eventually recovered, and forged a career as a singer-songwriter. A decade and a half later, she is Connecticut’s new “state troubadour.” And she’s one of many performers taking the main stage Saturday in Edgerton Park in New Haven for the annual Connecticut Folk Festival & Green Expo. The event’s free; it runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. This year it also features a beer and wine garden. There’ll be contradancing, a kids’ stage, 75 booths, and music, music, and more music. Click here to see the full schedule and other details about the event.
Callahan, who lives in Hartford and grew up in West Hartford, has decided to launch a program called Miracle of Melody at the York Correctional Facility for women in Niantic. She made her first visit there this week to begin planning the program, which will include “vocal improvisation, vocal empowerment, and songwriting.”
She spoke about that on an episode of WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” program. She also performed some music, including the version of a Bob Dylan tune you can watch by clicking on the video at the top of this story.
Click on the above audio file to hear the full WNHH interview with Callahan and with Nicole Heriot Mikula, who’s in charge of the folk festival this year.