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The people and culture of the modern South serve as the inspiration for the songs of Nashville-based singer/songwriter Kate Campbell. The daughter of a Baptist preacher, Campbell uses her songs to chronicle the societal changes below the Mason-Dixon Line. Born in New Orleans, where her father was attending seminary school, Campbell spent her formative years in northern Mississippi and Nashville, TN. Campbell's greatest musical influence came from her mother, who sang and played blues and swing tunes on the piano. Her maternal grandfather was an amateur bluegrass fiddle and banjo player. Campbell's first instrument was a ukulele she received at the age of four. After studying classical piano, she tried her hand at clarinet before settling on the guitar. Her performing debut came when she and her sister sang Dolly Parton's "Daddy Was an Old Time Preacher Man" at a church event. The civil rights movement of the early '60s had a profound effect on her, as her father maintained an open-door policy at the white Baptist church in Sledge, MS where he preached. As a teenager, Campbell was drawn to folk-rooted protest songs and became absorbed by the music of Peter, Paul and Mary. She was later influenced by singer/songwriters including James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, and Kris Kristofferson.
After earning undergraduate degrees in music and history from Samford University in Birmingham, AL, Campbell continued her education at Auburn University, where she earned a master's degree in history. Although she temporarily lived in California with her husband Ira, she returned to Nashville in 1988. Her debut album, Songs from the Levee, was released in 1995. Several releases for Compass followed throughout the remainder of the '90s: Moonpie Dreams (1997), Visions of Plenty (1998), and Rosaryville (1999). In 2001, Campbell switched labels, releasing Wandering Strange on Eminent. Monuments arrived in 2003, followed by a collection of covers called Twang on a Wire. The following year Compadre released The Portable Kate Campbell and Sing Me Out, both of which featured re-recordings of tracks from her first four records. She returned to original music in 2005 with Blues and Lamentations on the Large River Music label, which also released her subsequent two outings, 2006's For the Living of These Days (featuring Spooner Oldham) and 2008's Save the Day.