SONGWRITERS No. 6 Mama Kaz. July 2012.
Number six in a series where Songwriters on MT have been invited to tell a little about why they write, and to pick a personal favourite of their own. Kaz has been an active and hugely supportive member of MT from the early days of the site, writing and posting some very powerful and heart felt original songs., encouraging others along the way. Kaz has been a great recruiter for MT both individually and via her own group ‘Northern Ireland Unsigned Musical Family’.
She is unselfish and always answers a call for for help. T.F.K.
Kaz hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Europe.
Mama Kaz born Karen McIntyre, 21st January 1973. Born to this world singing not screaming, so my mum used to tell me. I had always sang from an early age, learning harmonies by singing along to my father’s Eagles tapes after a night out, usually being put on display for the sake of home entertainment, of
course I had no problem with always being an extrovert of sorts. My first ever experience of the industry was around 11 years old & competing for a talent show called “Opportunity Knocks” I remember my gran dressing me in a stunning ball gown (she was a soprano). As I made my way to the massive grand piano in a concert venue in Belfast, I was filled with dread & nerves as any young kid
would be. I walked up confident as I could to the pianist & he asked “Young girl
what are you singing for us today” (with Bob Monkhouse looking on) I said what my gran made me rehearse “Once I had a secret Love by Doris
Day”, as he started to play & I started to sing I saw everyone start to stare & I thought I was doing it wrong but finished to an uproar of applause around the room. The pianist leaned over as I was about to walk away & said dear child have you ever heard of Etta James? I said no & he said get your Gran to buy you her music, That was all he said & I remember thinking ‘Oh Jeez great thanks a bunch not a compliment in there..’ Little did I know then that this very pianist had seen something in me that would later come into play.
Music took a back seat through my teenage years, kicked out of music class for being disruptive & the usual temper tantrums not wanting to hold my voice back & conform to the sweet songs they used to make us sing, lol I wanted to growl it up & play with the song but NO it was not to be. Typical teenager I rebelled but for other reasons which I will explain later. Suffice to say I had a dark childhood at the hands of a not very nice uncle (this would come out in my songwriting later) I got pregnant early at 17 then again at 18 then married & pregnant again at 22 GASP I know but hey I don’t regret it as I have 3 amazing children to enjoy whilst I’m still young.
I then had a breakdown then another one when post natal depression had triggered off childhood memories of abuse, then lost my mother to a heart attack & part of my recovery was to keep a journal suggested by my shrink at the time, year 2000. I started to recover with some set backs & left Northern Ireland for a cover scene in Spain. After a few years I started reading back on my journal & realized that the words I was reading where starting to form as songs so I taught myself a few chords on guitar & starting using music to recover & get stronger. I came back home & went on gigging in various cover bands while secretly writing (closet songwriter syndrome lol). I started hunting out music that I had listened to back in my teenage years & remembered my Etta James phase. Somehow listening to At Last, or I’d Rather Go Blind unleashed this powerhouse side of my vocals which I never realized before. After numerous life changing experiences & understanding that it was MUSIC & the lady herself Etta, alongside Janis Joplin, Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin who were inspiring me. I then gained the confidence to share what I had been writing, a scary experience indeed after being a closet songwriter. My children grew & were always beside me through my music endeavors, The joke being “Mum it costs us a fortune to keep up with your music” lol bless them. My children have been my inspiration all along yet I cannot write a song about them, I wrote one but rarely shared it so I kept that personal relationship away from my songwriting & focused on the painful experiences in my life.
The ‘Lipstick & Cocaine’ CD which was just released (May 2012), has the songs that are my favorite compositions, as the 3 songs are closer to my dark past. Lipstick & Cocaine, track 1, is about that defining moment of awakening when you can take no more pain & fight harder than ever to get back after depression, drugs & alcohol abuse. Don’t You Know, track 2, is about an ex. Tongue & cheek “Never wrong a songwriter coz they will write a song about it”. Surviving, track 3, is about surviving Child abuse & my special message to those surviving or suffering or going through this pain. I was so lucky to have my Music Video for Lipstick & Cocaine donated by a local producer & my daughter acted a young me which was so special. My first release is not just about exposure but my ending in a long fight to survive so it just has to be my favorite of all the songs I’ve written.
I am lucky in having 2 personas, so away from my solo songwriting I have my blues side with Mama Kaz Band, My songwriting on this side is my dedication to the woman who inspired me to fight the fight, Miss Etta James RIP. The very song that got me through years of hurt “I’d Rather Go Blind” is so special to me that when we perform this on stage I can barely keep composure, my band now is so supportive & this allows me to fully give myself to the very music that my life has shaped “THE BLUES”, I know now I was born to sing the blues & every performance I do eats right through to my very heart & soul & this is the way I will continue to grow.
I am about to release for the 2nd time but with my band. “Mama’s
Express” will be the single release with a bonus track of “Cant Afford Me” and
will be in August and just in time for our support gig with Chris Farlowe and then Van Morrison in Sept. All in all I am so proud that my music is now gaining me these opportunities to stand on stages with legends of music. Little ole Mama Kaz, a name given to me over the years, it seems they all knew where my music would lead me. I am alive & I thank my music for that & this is my reason for
songwriting, I just hope that this will come across in my music & maybe this will give strength to those who feel the struggle is too much. My Children & My Music are NO.1 and this is all what I focus on, with support from amazing friends
& fans, life has never been so good and I am humbled by my fans who GET ME &
Lifetime song “I’d Rather Go Blind” – Etta James
Lipstick & Cocaine on MT – http://musicianstogether.com/video/SO6SWWDGON5Y/Mama-Kaz-Official-Music-Video-Lipstick-amp-Cocaine