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Performer Profile: Kirsten Paludan of Cowboy Cabaret

Photo by Phil Peterson

We recently chatted with musician Kirsten Paludan to discuss everything from her upcoming event Cowboy Cabaret II to highlights of her prolific music career. On April 9 at 7:30pm, join the Starhaven Rounders and an all-star cast of homegrown celebrities on a honky-tonk hoe-down of original songs, country western classics, and gospel favorites. Tickets on sale here.

“Keep your eyes and mind open. Be kind. Be honest. People who are present, passionate and focused can change the world.” – Kirsten Paludan

How did you get your start as a musician?

Kirsten: The Lawrence Arts Center Summer Youth Theater, Lawrence public schools, my training at KU, my incredible parents and growing up with a singing sister all helped build the foundation for my career as a professional singer/musician. I began ‘working’ in my early 20’s, several years out of KU, as an actress in regional theater and singing with a variety dance/event band. My songwriting/recording career followed soon after in my late 20’s, when I taught myself to play guitar and piano so I could communicate musically with my own words and ideas. All the other work has followed from there.

What can audiences expect in the upcoming Cowboy Cabaret concert?

Kirsten: Great music – classic country songs and gospel favorites that most people will know, and some they may not. Incredibly talented musicians and performers (Starhaven Rounders, Betse & Clarke, Sky Smeed, The Vogts Sisters, Ric & Jeanne Averill) all joining forces to create an unforgettable one night only experience.

The initial idea behind Cowboy Cabaret was to take audiences back to the time of variety shows like Hee-Haw and The Porter Waggoner show, so we like to maintain the overall theme of nostalgia while adding new elements to the mix, such as original songs from our guest artists.

What might audiences be surprised by in this show?

Kirsten: I don’t want to give away all the show’s secrets! Ha! But seriously, I think the audience will be surprised how much they love classic country music and how much of it they remember and can sing along to. I’m also excited to have a family element in the show – not only do we have singing sisters, and, of course, the Averills, but, Terry Williamson, who is the father of Starhaven Rounders drummer Wade, will be joining us in the band playing bass for the second act!

Kirsten Paludan
Photo by Todd Zimmer

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

Kirsten: I’m kind of a klutz, so I have numerous stories about tripping or falling into things… also, I’ve had to make up lyrics to songs many times, and have tales ranging from risqué to raucous from performing in many different situations over the years. Honestly, nothing sticks out as ‘funniest’, but I can think of many memorable moments. Here are my top three…

  1. (tie) singing with Sheryl Crow at a wedding in 2015/ meeting and singing for Paul Rudd earlier this year at his mom’s surprise party. Thanks to Kokomo (the variety dance/event band I’m the lead vocalist for), I’m now a ‘celebrity wedding singer’!
  2. Starhaven Rounders playing game #1 of last year’s World Series. There was a light mist to heavy downpour during most of our performance, but we stayed for the game and got to sit in the Diamond Club right behind home plate.
  3. My sister and I do a show together called ‘It’s All Relative’. It’s a musical memoir about us growing up and singing together that features several songs we wrote as kids and when we can manage it, a children’s choir. When we performed the show in Springfield, Illinois (at UIS) we had the most wonderful group of kids who sang with us for the finale, a song I wrote called ‘Pass it On’. It was what I had always imagined finally coming together live on stage and it was beautiful.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Kirsten: The world needs more happy people and art makes people happy, so make as much art as you can, whenever you can, wherever you can. Think globally. Act locally. Tap into your community. Use your resources. Remember you are not alone. Lawrence has so many great opportunities for young performers (including, but not limited to, LAC). Cut your own path, but look to the past and your predecessors for inspiration and information, as well. Learn as much as you can about many different subjects. Be a student of life. Live in the moment. Keep your eyes and mind open. Be kind. Be honest. People who are present, passionate and focused can change the world.