Tags Posts tagged with "Singer-Songwriter"


Photo from Robbie Harte

For one North Shore singer, an injury and her 13-year-old daughter have led her on a path she has dreamed about for years.

Singer-songwriter Robbie Harte, above, won two awards at the 2022 International Singer-Songwriters Association awards ceremony. Photo from Robbie Harte

Growing up in Montreal, Canada, Robbie Harte wanted to become a singer-songwriter. However, her goal was put on hold when an accident 14 years ago caused a back and spine injury that left her in chronic pain and unable to sing.

“It affected every part of me,” Harte said.

She added the best way to describe the issue to people is to imagine throbbing tooth pain from the waist to the toes all day, where sitting, standing or lying down doesn’t relieve the pain. It was so overwhelming that it was difficult for her to take in the breaths she needed to hold notes.

The Canadian was already living in Suffolk County when the accident occurred. She had met her husband during a trip to Hawaii. She worked for an airline and planned to go to Paris to write. Last minute Harte said she felt she shouldn’t go to France and opted to go to Hawaii, a place she was familiar with from visiting a couple of times. One morning while sitting in a coffee shop, she saw him run by, and then he was inside the shop a little while later. He stopped by her table to talk to her while she was writing about a couple meeting 

In her song “Out of the Blue,” she recounts the meeting saying she “traded Paris in for paradise.”

They began a long-distance relationship, with the two traveling between Canada and Smithtown, where he lived at the time. Shortly after she moved to Suffolk County, they married. Soon after she became pregnant with her daughter, she was injured.

“It was such a happy time for us, then I was sidelined,” Harte said. “It wasn’t just that I was sidelined — I was sidelined and silenced.”

She added that she navigated sad times in the past by expressing herself through music. Harte said at first, she accepted this was the way it was, but she started realizing she wasn’t herself. 

After her daughter was diagnosed with autism when she was 7, Harte wanted to show her child that a medical diagnosis shouldn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams.

“She’s the driving force that I’m on this journey,” the singer said. “She is the reason I’m pursuing my dream. She’s the reason that I’m doing all of this.”

Harte said she was inspired to pursue her goals despite chronic pain to show her daughter, right, that obstacles shouldn’t get in the way of dreams. Photo from Robbie Harte

Harte remembered the day she and her husband told their daughter about the autism diagnosis. She said they explained that sometimes things may be more challenging for her than others, but she shouldn’t let it get in the way of living her dreams. Harte said that conversation catapulted her to start pursuing her own goals.

“Here I was sitting on the couch, curled up in a ball, not living my dream because I couldn’t do it anymore, and things were really hard for me,” she said. “I said, ‘You know, I can’t tell her that and not put action behind my words. I have to show her by example, by being the best possible role model I can.’ That was the moment that I really decided this is my dream.”

Harte decided to put everything into singing despite how difficult or uncomfortable it was at first. The singer, who taught herself to play guitar, released her first EP in 2020 and has been enjoying musical success with her country/pop songs ever since. She has won and been nominated for several awards. Recently, she won the Gold Songwriter of the Year award and Bronze Single of the Year award for “Outside My Window” from the International Singer-Songwriters Association.

A few weeks ago, Harte released the single “Reason to Rise.” She described the song as an “anthemic power ballad.” The single has received airplay all over the globe and has landed on Canadian, country and indie music charts.

The journey has taught Harte a lot about herself and her strengths, she said. Initially, she was afraid she would never be able to get on a stage because she uses a cane regularly. However, she decided she would hold on to whatever else she needed, whether it was a curtain or microphone stand.

“You can’t let any of these things stop you because they’re just details,” Harte said.

The wife and mother also had advice when it comes to balancing various responsibilities and demands that parents face when juggling their own and their children’s obligations. She said the key is not to let everything overwhelm a parent, and she feels it’s important to make time for oneself. Harte said it’s vital to have a release such as singing, a hobby or playing a sport.

“If you don’t have that, you can’t give to other people,” she said. “You need to be in a positive mindset, and you need to have a few minutes — even if it’s 15 minutes — to do something that you love, so that you’re grounded, so that you can give your best to the people around you.”

Harte said she hopes to use her platform “to uplift, inspire and empower people” and to encourage them to let nothing stop them from doing what they love.

“I want to remind people to go out there and pursue their dreams and do what they love, despite their age, their ability or their limitations.”

For more information, visit robbieharte.com.

Kirsten Maxwell recently won a singer-songwriter competition in Florida. Photo by Ken Farrell

Huntington High School graduate Kirsten Maxwell, 23, was like all other high school students at the end of her senior year. When she graduated in 2010, the singer-songwriter didn’t know what she’d pursue at SUNY Potsdam in the fall.

“Both of my parents majored in music, but it didn’t occur to me that that was a path,” Maxwell said in a phone interview.

Her high school music teacher, Jason Giachetti, encouraged Maxwell to capitalize on her musical talent for a career.

She said Giachetti helped her put together a repertoire of songs and gave her music theory lessons every day at 7 a.m.

The hard work put into her foundation has paid off. After graduating from SUNY Geneseo in 2014 with a creative writing degree, she was a winner at the annual South Florida Folk Festival Singer-Songwriter competition in Fort Lauderdale in January.

That win may not come as a surprise to those familiar with her abilities. Giachetti, who is in his 16th year at Huntington High School, said he heard Maxwell sing for the first time during a vocal contest. Maxwell was in the chorus, but he said he didn’t know how talented she was until then, and told her she had to pursue a career in music.

“I’m just unbelievably proud of her,” Giachetti said in a phone interview. “For an educator of any sort, seeing one of their students really follow their dreams, it’s a dream come true.”

Maxwell’s path to a music career began long before high school, however. Her mother was an opera singer and her father was a conductor, and Maxwell said she grew up singing. When she was 12, she learned how to play the guitar and started writing some of her own songs.

“I’ve been writing ever since,” Maxwell said. She released her first album, entitled “Crimson,” independently in 2015. The album was part of a “healing process” following a particular relationship, she said, and its tone has a distinctive contemporary folk sound.

She is touted on her website as the “love child” of “Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot … raised with the help of godmothers Judy Collins and Maria Muldaur.” In her quest to make a living out of music, Maxwell said she’ll define her success by being not only financially stable, but also by being mentioned in the same breath as some of the iconic 1960s folksinging women.

“Things have changed, but I’d love to have the kind of career and image and respect that they’ve gained over the years,” she said.

Those who have heard her don’t hesitate to heap praise on the up-and-coming artist and her talent.

Jon Stein, who hosts a folk music-focused podcast called “The Hootenanny Cafe,” is a fan of Maxwell, according to her website.

“I never thought I’d ever hear a voice as angelic and mesmerizing as I did when I first listened to Joan Baez some 50 years ago, but then I heard the voice, songs and melodies of Kirsten Maxwell,” Stein said.

Maxwell credits her upbringing in Huntington as building a foundation for her music career, and now she will get to perform for the community that raised her. She is slated to perform a live show at the Huntington Public Library on March 25.

“It’s definitely significant in the fact that I have sort of a hometown pride and connection, growing up [and] being in the area,” she said.