By Stephanie Ciccarelli
June 2, 2009
Katherine Kellgren, though classically trained, sophisticated and sonorous, narrates stories from the depths of her soul, combining talent and skill with pure passion infused by a love of the spoken word, uplifted by her father's devoted ears.
I was there to see Katherine present at the Audies and also be acknowledged for her talent. Fortunately, I also was present to hear her speak at the BookExpo America Audiobook and Author Tea, discovering more about her creative process and hearing a reading from "Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy."
Learn more about this lovely and gracious lady who not only walked away with three Audies this year but also with the hearts of those to whom she read.
Before New Yorker Katherine Kellgren became the celebrated narrator that she is today, she studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, seeking her education abroad while keeping ties with home by sending her father a series of recordings that she narrated using a hand-held tape recorder of his favorite detective book from the 1920s in installments on audio cassette.
Each recording was an opportunity to share a special bond with her father, and while perhaps not being done so consciously or deliberately, further develop her narration skills and character voices.
At this time, Kellgren's father was very sick, so these installments came as a great joy to him. When she returned to New York after her graduation, she read him stories he selected by his bedside for several months. These short months, as it would turn out, were to be the final days of his life.
Just as he appeared to be fast asleep, which was one of the goals while reading aloud to him, Katherine would take a good look to make sure he was at rest and then stop reading, closing the book quietly, only to hear him exclaim from the depths of REM sleep, "I'm listening," prompting her to pick up the book and start reading again.
The words, "I'm listening," continue to echo in Katherine Kellgren's mind, helping her to get through long days in the recording studio. Buoyed by the acute ears and encouraging voice of her father, she is able to push herself to meet any challenge head on and pursue her work with gusto and meticulous attention to detail.
When doing research for audiobooks that she narrates, and depending on the complexities of the book, it can take up to two weeks to get a full grasp of the characters, the setting, jargon, expressions and dialects required. In studio, it can take between 2 to 5 days to record an audiobook from start to finish.
To be an audiobook narrator, just as an actor prepares for a role, it takes at times the mind and determination of a scholar. Understanding of context, rhythm, and a developing a deep connection to the characters does much for the narrator to help suspend the audience's disbelief.
Over the years, Katherine has narrated numerous audiobooks, and has won many awards for her work such as the AudioFile Earphones Award, the Peabody Award, and now most recently, several Audie Awards for her work on the sequel to Bloody Jack called "Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady", including the Audie award categories: Solo Narration - Female, Teens, and Distinguished Achievement in Production.
If you are a fan or colleague of Katherine, I'd like to invite you to comment. Also, if you are an audiobook fan in general or of the Bloody Jack books, I want to hear from you, too!
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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