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Achieving Balance

Kait Rose’s new album reflects her life as mom, artist

It seems appropriate that singer-songwriter Kaitlin Rose Parmenter — whose summer is filled with playing new venues, releasing an album, planning a wedding and preparing for a bucket-list event in the fall — would title her latest album Balance.

It is the seventh album of a nearly two-decade career for the musician, who goes by Kait Rose, and is a balance of newer songs and older tunes she has written.

“I had written a few new songs and had to decide whether they should be singles or might anchor a whole album,” Rose says of the album she began putting together last September. “What helped me decide was feeling like a lot of older songs that have evolved and grown with me deserved another chance.

“I really like it. I’m proud of what’s here,” she says of the outcome.

Performing since 16

Growing up in Delton, Rose performed songs from The Little Mermaid at the age of 5. As a teen, she discovered her mother’s guitar in a closet and started teaching herself to play it.

“I grew up listening to Carole King, Cat Stevens, the Eagles, thanks to my parents (Patti McNulty and Mike Parmenter), so my ear was tuned in to acoustic players and songwriters,” she says. “I had a lot of inspirations to draw from, and I think of Joni Mitchell when I sit down to play.”

Rose will celebrate her 37th birthday on Aug. 21. That’s 21 years after her first public performance, at age 16 at Kraftbrau Brewing, which is now the Old Dog Tavern.

“I went down to Kraftbrau for an open-mic night with my mom, who asked (the organizers) if I could play,” she says. Rose played an original song as well as Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me” and “didn’t really stop playing or performing” all through her teen years.

Other than spending three years in the Seattle area after high school, Rose has been happy to call Kalamazoo home.

“I love the arts community here,” she says. Even after all these years, I still keep meeting amazing artists and I’m astounded by their talent. This is a special place.”

Rose performs primarily in Michigan. This summer she’s played at venues that include Frederick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, BlissFest in Harbor Springs, and The Acorn in Three Oaks. Among her most popular gigs is a Fleetwood Mac Tribute show, in which she and guest musicians perform that band’s hits. Many of the songs are from its breakout album Rumours, released in 1977, eight years before Rose was born. The tribute show was launched in 2018 at Old Dog Tavern.

“We sold out there two years in a row, so we moved to Bell’s (Eccentric Cafe) in 2021,” Rose says, a show that also sold out. This year two Fleetwood Mac Tribute shows are scheduled at Bell’s in November and will include musicians Jim Beebe, Greg Orr, Ryan Demeniuk, Bob Wallis, Traci Seuss and Aaron Stinson (who make up The Thorns), plus Patti McNulty, Matt Gabriel and Adam Marth. Other opportunities to hear the group’s Fleetwood Mac covers will be available this month in Battle Creek and Paw Paw.

‘Bad Mother’ and more

When Rose is not writing, producing, rehearsing, booking, marketing or performing her music, she teaches guitar for Kalamazoo’s Academy of Rock, parents her three children and serves as a postpartum doula for first-time moms. Her experiences balancing these roles has informed her music, especially her 2016 song “Bad Mother,” written when she had three young children:

Am I a bad mother to say that I want out of it? A bad woman to say I’d rather be in Nashville, New York, Hollywood or Austin, I’d rather be on my way? Am I a bad mother to be the one to leave? A bad woman for wanting to be free?

“I wrote that song when I was wondering if I was going to have to wait 15 to 20 years before I pursued my passion,” Rose says. “If I wanted to be a touring musician, if I wanted to go for it and have some level of success, did I just shoot myself in the foot? And then I felt bad for daydreaming about a life that I couldn’t have right then. Those were years of hard work to balance motherhood and musicianship.

“Now I’m so grateful to have a home and be part of this community, raising my children and finding out that I can still pursue my art and creative endeavors. I’m glad I’m not on the road, getting burned out doing 200 gigs on tour and missing my kids. I feel good about creating my own idea of what success looks like.”

Her music has often reflected her own life. She describes her 2015 album, The Other Side, as intense, angry and sad, chronicling the decline of her relationship with her children’s father. A friend suggested that her next album, Live Enough, released in 2019, seems to be about someone looking in the rearview mirror, driving away from that destruction.

“Today I’m not driving away from anything,” Rose says. “Now I understand that relationships end and not everything was awful. I can be grateful for the experience and what I learned. I’m reaching a place of deeper gratitude for those experiences rather than being angry or hurt. I remember it was a bad, hard time, but that’s life.”

As to the title of Rose’s upcoming album?

“’Balance’ is a meaningful word for me,” she explains. “Balancing motherhood and my artistry, balancing the love I have for travel and touring with longing for roots in a community. This album is a culmination of all those things, from a more hopeful and positive space. I’ve finally come to a sense of peace, and this album represents a more grown-up self, on firmer ground. As an artist, it’s important to have music that’s representative of who you are right now.”

As she prepares for a September wedding to fiancé and bandmate Aaron Stinson — who heads up the All-American Funk Parade and plays with Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers — Rose is also excited about her debut performances at the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus on Sept. 9–10.

“It’s Michigan’s music mecca,” she says of the festival, which she hasn’t visited before. “I’ve been existing in a space of hopeful manifestation, having had the dream to play there for so long. I wanted to hold out until I was able to go as a performer.”

And Rose will play Wheatland the way she started out in music — as a solo artist.

“If all the band members went away, I would be OK, because I’ve been doing this since I was 15.”

Katie Houston

Katie Houston is a Kalamazoo-based writer, communications coach, and marketing consultant.

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