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Chan Marshall

Chan MarshallAKA Charlyn Marie Marshall

Born: 21-Jan-1972
Birthplace: Atlanta, GA

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Singer/Songwriter

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Cat Power

Born in Atlanta and raised by itinerant hippies all around the southern United States, Charlyn Marie Marshall was given the initial exposure to her future career through her musician father. When her parents eventually divorced, Marshall spent most of her time in the custody of her mother; upon dropping out of high school at the age of 16, however, she switched over to the paternal nest back in Atlanta. It was here that, at the age of 19, she decided to take up the guitar and start composing her own songs. An attempt to work in a band context soon brought her to the realization that she preferred writing over performing -- a preference she was forced to struggle with for many years afterwards. Both Atanta and the insidious, life-sapping pull of pizzeria limbo were escaped in 1992 by a move to New York City, where Marshall and a friend decided to take their chances as a musical duo; almost immediately her friend fled back to Atlanta, and months of loneliness, struggle and unemployment followed for the shy, young musician. By this time she had adopted the name Cat Power, spontaneously lifted from a hat displaying the "Cat Diesel Power" logo.

In 1993 Cat Power released its first single Headlights, after which Marshall began to find opportunities performing solo as an opening act for bands such as God is My Co-Pilot and Liz Phair. It was at one of the shows in support of Phair that she was introduced to drummer Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and guitarist Tim Foljhan of Two Dollar Guitar, both of whom were intrigued enough by the material to offer their services as a backing band. The combination worked well, and an EP and full-length album (Dear Sir and Myra Lee, respectively) were completed by this trio in 1995 (the latter released by Shelley's label Smells like Records). This same line-up produced the following year's What Would the Community Think?, the first Cat Power album to be released under the auspices of the Matador label, and the first to earn the band a substantial burst of interest by way of the associated single Nude As The News.

As Marshall's popularity increased, so did her stage fright, and stories of her on-stage meltdowns achieved wide circulation in the press. This reputation did little to hinder interest in her music -- for the most part working rather to throw the (sometimes painfully) introspective quality of her work into sharp relief. By the release of her third album Moon Pix (1998), recorded in Australia with the help of the rhythm section from The Dirty Three, Cat Power had firmly established itself as one of the prominent names in the independent rock community. The singer then took time out to explore and interpret some of her favorite songs by other performers with The Covers Record (2000), before taking a long (and somewhat less tormented) road back to (mostly) original material on 2003's You Are Free. Several of the songs from the album subsequently formed the basis of filmmaker Mark Borthwick's offering Speaking For Trees, issued in 2004 as a DVD, and paired with an audio disc containing the previously unreleased 18-minute song Willie Deadwilder.

In 2004 Chan Marshall made good use of her growing visibility by throwing her weight behind charitable causes like The Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian Parents' Circle and The Fuck Cancer Benefit; such laudable activities made a previous decent into madness -- in the form of appearing in an ad for sweatshop parasites The Gap -- even more puzzling.

Father: Charlie Marshall (musician)

    Cat Power Vocalist/Guitarist 1992-present

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