Growing up, I lived in Brooklyn, then Queens.
Later I escaped to The City (Manhattan).
This New York girl loved the country, animals,
especially horses and cats,
and the ocean.
My Grandad was Bertell Wadsworth "Buzz" King, a really interesting guy and I believe I inherited his adventurous spirit. Buzz King was a champion bicycle racer, oarsman, and welterweight wrestler for the New York Athletic and Nautilus Clubs. He was also an early pilot, having learned to fly at the Curtiss school in Hammondsport, N. Y. in 1913. His solo date was June 4, 1913.
In the mid-1960s, the Greenwich Village folk music scene was at its peak. When I was in high school, I took the subway to Manhattan every weekend and sang in the coffeehouses. At first, it was just "basket-houses" (where we passed the basket for spare change). I was calling myself Kathy King. I hooked up with some other young singers and we eventually became the house group at the Café Au Go Go.
The Au Go Go Singers made one LP (that’s a vinyl album, kids). It was called They Call Us Au Go Go Singers, on Roulette Records. When we signed, we were nearly all underage, were paid $50 each and never saw another dime. One song (Pink Polomoniums) was released as a single and climbed the charts in Ohio and Texas, but this wasn't enough to keep the group together, and we went our separate ways. The album was recently re-released on CD. You can buy it here.
You can read more about the Au Go Go Singers here. There's also a book about Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that devotes a long chapter to the evolution and dissolution of the Au Go Go Singers.
I toured as one of two backup singers with Bobby Vinton (one of his big hits was "Blue Velvet"). This is the only photo I have, myself, Bobby and Martha Velez rehearsing at a nightclub in Pittsburgh, Bobby's hometown. People turned out in droves to see us there. We also played the Copacabana in New York, the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
In July 1969, I played the Horse Girl in Jean Genet's The Balcony at Earthlight, an experimental theater in White Lake, N.Y. Right down the road was Max Yasgur's farm, which was about to become famous for the Woodstock Music Festival. Earthlight was scheduled to perform 'street theater' at the Festival. I went back to NYC on a break and got cast in Oh! Calcutta! as the show's first replacement. After a whirlwind six days of rehearsal, I opened in the show. The next day I went back to White Lake to collect my things - and toured the trash-strewn, muddy Woodstock site, looking at the abandoned platforms, stages, newspapers, ponchos, food remains, paper... So I was at Woodstock - almost.
I spent a shameless, fun year in the then-scandalous
Broadway musical Oh! Calcutta!
I had changed my name to Katherine King and then to Kathrin King. I figured that if Barbra Streisand could drop a vowel from her first name, I could drop two.
After Oh! Calcutta! ended, I ran away to live in Paris because it seemed like a romantic and impulsive thing to do. It wasn't, actually, but I wrote some songs. Another name change, to Kathrin King Segal, which was my original name, although spelled differently.
I shared a bill with legendary jazz singer Jon Hendricks (Lambert, Hendricks & Ross) on a cross-Atlantic voyage on the S.S. France. This was the back page of the ship's newspaper
I performed in many shows by and with the legendary, late Off-Broadway maverick, Rev. Al Carmines (at the piano) and shared a stage with him in a cabaret collection of his theater songs.
I continued to work in theater in New York.
A favorite show of mine was the musical Philemon, a musical directed by book writer/lyricist Tom Jones under the pseudonym of Lester Collins, and Harvey Schmidt, who wrote The Fantasticks. I played a 2nd century prostitute named Kiki. Apparently, we were pretty stylish back then. The rare collectible cast album of Philemon is available here!
Another collaboration came out of this show. I began writing songs with Ken Collins, the musical director of Philemon. We worked in New York clubs and cabarets as Segal & Collins. In 1986, Ken Collins, 34, died in a car crash in Los Angeles. He had been working as conductor for the musical, Cats. I still miss him.
Steve Gilborn, Victor Slezak, Kathrin
in Good Honest Food
Here is the NY Times Review for that show:
Bill Bozzone, a proven talent at the Ensemble Studio Theater as well as at the Punch Line, is in mirthful form with this sketch about the world's greasiest spoon. The woman in charge of the restaurant is an ill-tempered waitress (Kathrin King Segal), who is so busy insulting the customers and playing practical jokes that she has no time to remove the dirty dishes from the counter. The service is catch-as-catch-can, but the writing and acting are precise.
Into this dingy diner comes the slick, smart-suited Victor Slezak, carrying his briefcase and eager to make a computer deal with a client (Steve Gilborn). Desperately, Mr. Slezak tries to hold on to his dignity, but wherever he turns he is threatened by gravy stain - or worse. To the newcomer's amazement, the food turns out to be good, but in contrast to the regulars, he prefers cleanliness and a kind word for the price. Amid the clutter there are sharp-edged performances by Mr. Slezak, Mr. Gilborn and, especially, Ms. Segal, who makes the waitress as slovenly as a housewife in a George Price cartoon. The brisk direction is by Steve Kaplan.
In 1975, I met my husband-to-be, Steve Kaplan.
We're still married, a fact that has proven many people wrong.
In 1979, Steve co-founded Manhattan Punch Line Theater, which went on to produce and develop many of the top comedy writers, actors and directors working
today in theater, film and television.
Steve currently teaches a comedy workshop in Los Angeles.
Check it out at www.comedyintensive.com
RETURNING TO MY MUSICAL ROOTS
I finally got back to folk music in 1999, when I met up with an organization in L.A. called Songmakers, and was inspired to pick up the guitar again, and write some new songs.
This culminated in my first CD, Better Late Than…
Charlie and I collaborated on the CD, Land of Beginning Again.
It brings together jazz, folk and country influences - and even a little classical. As I've gotten older, I've been waiting for my soprano voice to drop itself down into some kind of blues growl, but it seems I would have to live to be about a hundred and fifty or smoke heavily for that to happen. On the CD, I sing the old Sippie Wallace blues song, Women Be Wise, but as more of a vintage pop/jazz song than a traditional blues. The CD is a collaboration with Charlie, with four of my original songs, including the title song, and two of his, primarily instrumentals. He plays most of the guitars on the tracks, all lead guitars, plus electric bass, Dobro and lap steel.
Copyright © Katherine Siegel