Rachael Kilgour

Rachael Kilgour in a forest, sitting on a downed forest log in a autumn like setting in the background

Saturday Woodland Stage – Concert – 1:00 – 1:50
Saturday in the Barn – The Good, The Bad and The Lovely – 3:15 – 4:30
Sunday Grassy Knoll – Song Circle – 11:30 – 12:30
Sunday In The Barn – Segue Song Circle – 3:15 – 4:30

“I think I’m gonna make a Dad album,” songwriter Rachael Kilgour heard herself blurt out one afternoon in an Asheville recording studio. She was in the final days of tracking her EP Game Changer (2019), and in the final months, as it would turn out, of her father’s life. She had just written a new song, “Dad Worked Hard.” “I hadn’t written any other songs about him at that point – I certainly hadn’t considered making an entire album in his honor. I had no way of knowing how little time he had left or how much his death would transform me. But when the producer suggested recording ‘Dad Worked Hard’ for the new EP, I just knew I needed to hold onto it. So I said it: no, I think I’m gonna make a dad album.” And she did.

 Kilgour’s exquisite fourth full-length collection, My Father Loved Me, is a tribute to her late father, produced by JUNO Award-winning songwriter Rose Cousins and recorded in the senior Kilgour’s native Canada. In the spare, often gutting language for which she is known, Kilgour gives us a complex portrait of a man as seen through his daughter’s eyes. With unwavering acuity she poses questions about identity, inheritance, and grief, and affirms the value of one ordinary working man’s life to an often indifferent world.

 Like her father, Kilgour is a hard worker. She comes by her considerable skills honestly, honing her craft over the past decade in listening rooms, festivals, concert halls, and recording studios, and picking up accolades along the way. Kilgour first attained notoriety outside her native Duluth, MN as the grand prize winner of the 2015 international NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition and winner of the 2017 Kerrville New Folk Contest. She has been featured at NYC’s Lincoln Center, at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and at the Sundance Film Festival. Her oft-noted “unapologetic lyrics” (Rolling Stone) and “master crafted indie folk” sensibilities (Billboard) are on full display in this latest collection of songs. Created during the period of time spanning her father’s dementia diagnosis, his death, and its immediate aftermath, the songs that would become My Father Loved Me were a way for Kilgour to keep pace with her shapeshifting grief.

 “I initially wrote these songs for myself, but I also was writing them for him,” Kilgour reflects. “My dad was very affectionate and playful, he was generous with his time and energy and taught us each how to work with our hands and to earn a person’s trust. But there was a through-line of anxiety or self-doubt in him that I, myself, am very familiar with.” The songs, then, became a reassurance, of sorts, beamed out to her father beyond the grave: your humble life was worthy, your flaws were human, your love is still with me.

 My father had a very average life for a man of his time, a small life that didn’t involve grandeur, of any kind at all.” Kilgour thinks before speaking again. “I needed to prove to myself—and to the world—that lives lived like that are still worth celebrating, still worth living.”

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