In early 2014, Kat Dahlia was preparing to release her anticipated debut album, but excitement took a sharp turn when a vocal cord injury derailed its release.
With her album on hold, the Miami-born, New York-based singer/songwriter/rapper retreated. And, like her fans, she questioned what would happen next.
“It was a tussle of emotions,” explains Dahlia. “There were moments where I was like, “Oh my God, that’s it. I had my moment. I could have seized it and I didn’t. Now here I am. And then there were moments where it was like, ‘No! You know what? I’m going to come back better than ever.’ It was a constant battle over what to believe and I had to shift my emotions all the time to the positive since I had nothing else to go by.” The “big scare” forced Dahlia to re-evaluate and re-adjust. She got healthy, focused on therapy, learned how to better use her powerful voice, and rose to the challenge. “I think part of the growth of it was to make myself believe that it was going to come back.” And then it did.
Now, nearly a year to the date, Dahlia’s My Garden is getting major love from fans and critics. The positive response has had a lightening effect. “It feels like I was constipated and I just dumped a big dookie and I feel so much better,” jokes the raspy-voiced singer. “Of course, because I’m an artist, I’m already on to some new shit. But I still am so happy with this project [and] that it’s out and people want to hear it. I don’t feel crazy, you know? I’ve been sitting with this music and it sucked because the joy of music is about sharing it and I wasn’t able to do that for so long.”
The mercurial album is a standout from track to track. Dahlia’s growling reggae-tinged vocals ─ Rihanna meets Axl Rose – captivate from the already popular “Gangsta” and a reworked “My Garden,” to the stirring “Walk On Water,” forceful “Tumbao,” and raw closing track, “Just Another Dude,” one Dahlia recorded in two takes immediately following the end of a destructive relationship. She’s confessional, vulnerable, and real. And it’s freed her.
“In relationships I would lie and have all these secrets that I had to keep and I’m just friggin’ tired of doing that. I kept so many secrets that were really hard for me and they hurt. I had no one to talk to or turn to. I was really alone, so I guess I took it to the other extreme.”
Dahlia’s next plans include concentrating on her Cuban roots and putting a Spanish project together—just another part of her focus on staying true to her own voice. “I wish there was a pamphlet that said, ‘This is what you got to do to make sure that everyone likes you, and everybody understands, and nobody has a misconception of what you are or misjudges you.’ But ultimately I’m not worried. I know my true intentions and I think if they haven’t already been shown, then they eventually will.”