Women Who Rock: Katy Vernon

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We all know women who rock, but what about those who have the courage to get up on stage and do it?

Minnesota is home to many talented female musicians, and we are lucky enough to profile some of them on our show. This time we meet Katy Vernon, the woman who rocks on a ukulele.

The ukulele is a festive little instrument that puts out happy notes.

But, for local singer-songwriter Katy Vernon, it’s been the way she can get out some pretty serious personal notes about the loss of both her mother and father when she was a child.

“After my mom passed away, it became a more serious outlet for me. Instead of journaling, I would write songs,” Vernon said. “You either want to scream or you just want to sing.”

Vernon sang.

“I’m a singer of sad songs on a happy instrument,” she said.

Vernon grew up in South London, and doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t belting out tunes.

“I would just sing, I mean it sounds pathetic, but almost to keep myself company,” Vernon said.

She moved to America at 21 and married an American. For her, it was starting over.

“I lost my family in many ways, and here I am being handed an opportunity to choose my new relative, my new team to go through life with,” Vernon said.

Once in the states, Vernon’s husband nudged her to take singing more seriously.

So, she started with a simple note posted on a grocery store bulletin board saying: “I just arrived. And I sing!”

Someone responded, and that was her musical restart in America.

Vernon’s sound really took shape just three years ago when she discovered the ukulele.

“I always thought of it as a toy, with kind of a teny little sound. I didn’t really take it seriously. As soon as I got one, I think I wrote four or five songs in a couple of weeks. It just completely rewired my brain, and made me go back to the basics of song writing. It just unleashed something in me. I love it!” Vernon said.

Over the years, Vernon has grown her family, now a mother to two young girls. She’s evolved not only her sound, but her goals.

“I used to, in my 20s, want to be sexy and take over the world and be the next Madonna. And I really don’t want that for myself anymore,” Vernon said.

She found what she wants at her daughters’ camp, during a sing-along.

“Before I knew it, almost 100 girl scouts were surrounding me singing at the top of their lungs, this Taylor Swift song. And I just thought, ‘You know what? This is it; this is life.’ This is why I play,” Vernon said.

That’s coming full circle.

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