bio

The player

  • Wrote “Anna Lee,” featured on Levon Helm’s Grammy-winning record Dirt Farmer, and CD/DVD, Live at the Ryman
  • Wrote “Leaving Eden,” the title track for the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops’ 2012 release
  • Writer and producer of “The Gathering,” a holiday song cycle originally commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony 2011
  • Writer of “Vote Against Amendment One,” a protest song written in response to North Carolina’s marriage amendment (which passed in 2012)
  • Writer or “My Beloved Enemy,” from the NC Music Love Army’s collection of protest songs, “We Are Not For Sale” (2013)

Singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett lives and writes in the piedmont of North Carolina, and her songs tend to reflect the stories of the region, both traditional and contemporary. One of the most sought-after voices in creative collaborations, she co-founded Polecat Creek with singing partner Kari Sickenberger in 1997. Laurelyn is a frequent performer at regional music festivals such as Merlefest and has been a guest on the radio show Prairie Home Companion. She has toured with folk legend Alice Gerrard and songwriter Diana Jones, and premiered composer Kenneth Frazelle’s song cycle, “Songs in the Rear View Mirror,” in 2010, and has toured with the North Carolina Symphony in 2009 and 2011 and 2013.

In recent years Laurelyn has partnered with Triad Stage’s Preston Lane on five plays featuring regional folklore and original music: Brother Wolf (2006), Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity (2006), Bloody Blackbeard (2008), Providence Gap (2010) and Snow Queen(2013). An adaptation of Bloody Blackbeard toured NC schools in 2009, and both Brother Wolf and Beautiful Star are published by Playscripts and have gone on to have professional productions in cities across the U.S. A song from Brother Wolf, “Anna Lee,” was featured on Levon Helm’s Grammy-winning record, Dirt Farmer, is included in the documentary film about Helm’s life, called “Ain’t in it for my Health,” and is featured on the 2011 Grammy-winning cd Levon Helm’s “Ramble at the Ryman.”

Commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony, Dossett and the symphony premiered her new song cycle, “The Gathering: A Winter’s Tale in Six Songs, in November 2011. She performed with singer and fiddler Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, legendary Nashville mandolinist Mike Compton, and North Carolina’s own banjo virtuoso, Joe Newberry. The accompanying cd, “The Gathering,” was released to critical acclaim, including top holiday picks from the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and USA Today.

Laurelyn spent much of 2012 writing and performing with  Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) and they released a collaborative cd, “The Collide.” She also received an NEA grant to write a new play with Preston Lane, and had a December tour with “The Gathering.” Her song “Leaving Eden” is the title track of the Grammy-nominated recent release by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Laurelyn has taught songwriting and singing at the Augusta Heritage Center, as well as at many universities, workshops and festivals. She is the 2012 recipient of the Betty Cone Medal of Arts, the 2010 recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship for songwriting, 2004 winner of the Chris Austin songwriting contest at Merlefest, and a 2010 fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She lives with her family in Greensboro, NC.

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

The Gathering: A Winter’s Tale in Six Songs, a song cycle for voice, string band, orchestra and chorus. Received its world premiere in November 2011 with the North Carolina Symphony, Grant Llewellyn, conducting. With Rhiannon Giddens, Mike Compton, Joe Newberry and the Concert Singers of Cary.

RECORDINGS

  • The Gathering (2011) Produced by Laurelyn Dossett. With Rhiannon Giddens, Laurelyn Dossett, Joe Newberry, Mike Compton and Jason Sypher. This holiday cd featured the string band version of the above song cycle. This band also tours nationally as “The Gathering: A Holiday Concert.”

REVIEWS

“What the season sounded like before shopping and Irving Berlin.”—Marc Myers, Wall Street Journal

“This classy offering is a much needed alternative to the typically overwrought fare that clogs the season’s racks.” Hal Horowitz, 4 out of 4 stars American Songwriter Magazine

3 1/2 out of 4 stars from The Chicago Sun-Times

Top Ten Holiday songs of 2011, USA Today

 

Polecat Creek, a roots country band based in North Carolina. Songwriter, lead and harmony singer, guitarist, and stand-up bass player. Co-founded with Kari Sickenberger, managing partner. Regional festival and concert touring, national radio and press. 1997 – Present.

RECORDINGS

  • Ordinary Seasons (2007) Produced by Polecat Creek and Grammy-winning Steven Heller.
  • Leaving Eden (2004) Produced by Dirk Powell.
  • Salt Sea Bound (2001) Produced by Polecat Creek.

AWARDS

First Place in the Neo-traditional Band Contest at the Appalachian String Band Festival, Clifftop, WV.

SELECTED REVIEWS

“Simply put, this is plain good music.” Tim O’Brien

“As singers and songwriters, these ladies explore a depth of emotions, colors, and life experience. (It) is much more than old-time. It is modern songwriting with a country face…direct and sincere. Is Polecat Creek the natural extension of the sister duo? Who’s to say? Are they modern folk singers? Probably. Are they worth your attention? Definitely.” Bluegrass Unlimited

“Warning: Polecat Creek’s Leaving Eden may get stuck in your CD player…you may not be able to hit eject until you’ve danced around the house a few times, singing along…while solid melodies and vocal harmonies may be the first thing you notice, the pictures painted in Polecat Creek’s lyrics will keep you coming back for more.” Performing Songwriter

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

2009 appearance on “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Merlefest, First Night Raleigh, City Stages Birmingham, AL.
Americana Music Association showcase, Nashville, TN, 2007.
International Bluegrass Music Association Roots & Branches showcase, Louisville, KY, 2005.

 

Providence Gap, a play by Preston Lane with original music by Laurelyn Dossett. Staged readings at Appalachian Summer Festival, Boone, NC, July 2009. Received its world premiere at Triad Stage, Greensboro, NC, in June 2010. Songwriter, featured performer and Music Director.

RECORDING

  • The Music of Providence Gap (2010) Produced by Laurelyn Dossett.

 

Bloody Blackbeard, a play by Preston Lane with original music by Laurelyn Dossett. Received its world premiere at Triad Stage, Greensboro, NC, in June 2008. Songwriter, Music Director. Bloody Blackbeard had a four-week sold out run.

RECORDING

  • The Music of Bloody Blackbeard (2008) Produced by Laurelyn Dossett.

SUBSEQUENT PERFORMANCES

Bloody Blackbeard received a cARTwheels grant to tour a 50-minute version for NC middle schools in spring 2009. Music Director.

The North Carolina Symphony scored “Remember My Name,” the theme song from Bloody Blackbeard; Laurelyn Dossett performed this and other songs with the NC Symphony’s “Blue Skies, Golden Sands” series in March and May 2009.

 

Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity, a play by Preston Lane with original music by Laurelyn Dossett. Received its world premiere at Triad Stage, Greensboro, NC, in December 2006. Songwriter, Music Director 2006. Music Director 2007, 2008, 2009. Sold out after its first week in 2006, Beautiful Star is the highest-grossing play in Triad Stage history. Beautiful Star has gone on to multiple performances around the country. It is published by PLAYSCRIPTS.

RECORDING

  • The Music of Beautiful Star (2006) Produced by Laurelyn Dossett.

SELECTED REVIEWS

“The best show I’ve seen in this or any holiday season — an irresistible blend of Bible tales and mountain music… Charlotte should be green with envy,” Julie York Coppens of The Charlotte Observer 12.14.06

“BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC: The appealing patina of Appalachian roots music in Laurelyn Dossett’s original scores to Brother Wolf and Beautiful Star did not disguise a mind awake and actively interrogating the stories from the Good Book. Rhiannon Giddens’ banjo and vocals gave particular savor to the latter work.” The Independent Weekly‘s Byron Woods in his “Best Theatre of 2006″ 1.10.06

Beautiful Star makes “Christmas Come Alive in the Carolina Mountains,” Playbill.com 12.03.06

 

Brother Wolf, a play by Preston Lane with original music by Laurelyn Dossett. Received its world premiere at Triad Stage, Greensboro, NC, in March 2006. Songwriter, Music Director, Singer/Musician. Sold-out run in 2006.

RECORDING

  • The Music of Brother Wolf (2006) Produced by Laurelyn Dossett.

SELECTED REVIEWS

“An arresting, multilayered combination of spectacle and music,” The Winston Salem Journal 3.19.06:

“Ambitious” and “elaborately realized” and gives it the moniker “Beowulf of the Blue Ridge,” The Charlotte Observer, 3.18.06

SUBSEQUENT PERFORMANCES

September 2006, staged readings, New York, NY.
July 2007 remount, Greensboro, NC.
July 2007 remount, Appalachian Summer Festival, Boone, NC.
February 2009, The Human Race Theatre, Dayton, OH.
February 2010 , St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.

 

AWARDS AND HONORS

 

“Anna Lee,” a song written for Brother Wolf, was recorded by Levon Helm and included on his live “Ramble at the Ryman” CD; it won the Grammy Award for Best Americana Album in 2012.

“Anna Lee” was also on Levon Helm’s “Dirt Farmer” CD; it won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2008.

Brother Wolf was one of eight plays nationally to receive a Songwriters Showcase at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre in New York, NY, in October 2007. Published by Playscripts.

 

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

 

August Heritage Center, Elkins, WV. Taught songwriting at week-long music camp/retreat August 2007 & 2009, 2012.

Songwriting Workshops. Periodic songwriting workshops at festivals and universities.

Singing Workshops. Periodic harmony-singing workshops with Kari Sickenberger of Polecat Creek.

Mentoring. Much of the music directing at Triad Stage is actually mentoring young folk musicians and singers in professional performance and recording. Also work with young local songwriters to develop and promote their craft.

 

SELECTED HONORS AND PRESS

 

The Betty Cone Medal of Arts, February 2012, from the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro, for exceptional artistic achievement.

Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship, 2010.

North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship for Music, 2009-2010. $10,000 award for songwriting.

Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, 2004 winner, gospel category, Merlefest, Wilkesboro, NC.

O. Henry Magazine, October 2011, feature article on the writing of “The Gathering” for the NC Symphony.

Our State Magazine, May 2010, feature article on songwriting for theatre and symphony.

UNCG Magazine, Summer 2008. Cover article, “Songs in the Sea of Life” by Mike Harris.

Greensboro Monthly, June 2008. Cover article, “The Swashbuckling Adventures of Preston and Laurelyn” by Bill Cissna.

Our State Magazine, October 2008. Feature article on Preston and Laurelyn, “Creative Director” by Lydia Lyle Gibson.

Go Triad, March 2006. Cover article, “Playing Around with Music” by Grant Britt.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, fall 2005 re-printed the lyrics of “Leaving Eden” in its front-page article on the ailing textile industry.

BBC News, fall 2005, played Leaving Eden as part of its report on the impact of textile mill closings in the rural US.

Relish, July 2004. Cover article, “Harmonic Progressions” by Ed Bumgardner.

 

EDUCATION

 

M.S., 1999, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Counseling and Educational Development, Community Counseling (CACREP)

B.S., 1984, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, Psychology (Statistics emphasis)

 

PERSONAL

 

Married Justin Catanoso in 1984, three young adult daughters, lives in Greensboro, NC.