Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival Interviews: Caitlin Kraus

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Early on in the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 Nelsonville Music Festival announced its cancellation due to the infectious disease outbreak. In its place, Ohio University School of Media Arts & Studies Director Josh Antonuccio and Nelsonville Music Festival Executive Director Tim Peacock created the Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival, an online presentation of the popular festival, which is being produced by Stuart’s Opera House, WOUB Public Media, the Scripps College of Communication and the Ohio University School of Media Arts and Studies, in partnership with OU Performing Arts, the Ohio University Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Haden DeRoberts Foundation. Under the direction of Antonuccio, Ohio University students and recent graduates are on location around the region with school faculty Andie Walla and Brian Plow filming performances for the virtual fundraiser supporting Stuart’s Opera House. WOUB producers Adam Rich and Evan Shaw are providing post-production on the project, which will go live on Stuart’s official YouTube page August 21-22.

In addition to gaining critical audio and video production experience, students and recent graduates are also learning the ins and outs of music journalism, promotions, and publicity: interviewing performers and creating a myriad of content related to their unique experience. This interview was conducted by VNMF Publicity/Promotion team Lauren McCain, Weiler Harmon, and Madyson Lewellyn and was produced by WOUB’s Arts and Culture producer Emily Votaw. 

Caitlin Kraus. (Photo by Jared Bullis)

The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic have proved a heavy burden upon a majority of people’s everyday lives, future plans and career paths. For singer-songwriter Caitlin Kraus, things ended up on a more productive note.

The indie folk artist is a Columbus native who started her music career at the age of 12 after being inspired by The Beatles, Karen Dalton and Neil Young. Kraus went on to further her education at Ohio University to study music therapy in 2006, while also sharing her own music at local places such as Donkey Coffee and Little Fish Brewery. Once graduated, she moved her life out to Texas where her two life passions began to intersect again after she found a job as a Board Certified Music Therapist, while she was also beginning to gain more confidence and exposure as an artist after performing her songs more often.

“It took me a while to feel confident enough to share them. Athens is where I became comfortable,” Kraus said as she detailed the experiences that went into growing her sound as an artist.

Her attitudes at the time are chronicled in “Dead Man,” a song she wrote after moving to Austin as she was grieving the loss of a community she was just beginning to immerse herself in. Five years later, Kraus went back to her roots and moved her life back to Athens to begin a master’s degree in Music Therapy and counseling. The singer decided to resurrect the song once again years later — describing it as a “full circle” moment as the lyrics began to be felt from a transformative perspective.

Currently, Kraus is working full-time as a counselor in Athens at a local agency. Quarantine has allowed more energy and time in her schedule to be focused on her music. She has pushed herself to focus her energy in a positive way by attending weekly virtual singer-songwriter circles that inspire her to continue writing her own lyrics and music. The artist will also be releasing a full length album alongside the release of the Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival. The upcoming project will feature a mashup of new and old songs that are embellished with introspective themes. Kraus credits the album’s completion to the unique musical process she was able to find and implement during the pandemic conditions.