It’s funny how a single movie can inspire us to pursue our dreams. “Keyboard Cathy” Wiegand wandered into the 2005 film adaptation of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and walked out not itching to travel through space, but humming “So Long & Thanks for All the Fish,” the whimsical end credits song by Irish singer Neil Hannon—who just so happens to be the frontman of one of her favorite groups, The Divine Comedy.
In follow-up to her debut album, "Inspiration," Cathy's irresistible new seven song EP Sushi Lover features “So Long & Thanks For All The Fish” (in case you missed it the first time!), revamped takes of “Eternity” and “Give a Little More,” the brand new “Miracle Worker” (an incisive satire about her former life in the corporate world) and two versions of her trademark “Sushi Lover”—the original and a high spirited, “extra spicy” house remix by the San Antonio band Hyperbubble.
When “Keyboard Cathy” initially put together her often visited myspace page, she picked the categories of “pop,” “showtunes” and “other”; all of them apply to some degree, but none truly capture the magical mix of heartfelt songwriting and witty observational storytelling that defines the New Jersey based performer’s diverse repertoire. It’s part Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy with a twist of Rufus Wainwright. Others say her songs remind them of a cross between The Carpenters and a classic TV theme song—that says something about her beautiful, expressive voice and instantly catchy melodies. Still others call it “progressive rock.”
She grew up singing in high school and community theatre musicals, so there’s a certain theatricality to it. “Golden Child,” in fact, recently received Honorable Mention in the Broadway/Cabaret category of the Unisong International Songwriting Contest. However, her music is also straightforward singer/songwriter pop and don’t forget her obsession with fish. “The minute I left The Hitchhiker’s Guide, I went to the record store, bought the soundtrack and became obsessed with finding out about the guy who was singing that song,” she says. “I did an internet search on Neil and discovered that he was the lead singer of The Divine Comedy, which is funny because someone who had heard some of my earlier music had compared my style to theirs.
“He writes music that’s like showtunes and movie soundtracks but it’s also pop, and that’s exactly what my style is like,” she adds. “Once I started listening to more of his music, I was able to finish ‘Sushi Lover.’ I love sushi and always wanted to write a funny song about it. The idea of recording a full album project came naturally after that. Music has always been a hobby of mine, but I am aware that a lot of independent artists now have the means to translate that into full time careers.”
“Keyboard Cathy”—who earned her colorful nickname when she showed up at a benefit rehearsal for the first time with her new Roland E-600—writes and sings about other things besides edible raw fish. “Eternity” is a bold, powerful love song that was inspired by the film Ghost, while “Give a Little More” urges everyone to be as charitable as possible. For the most part, Cathy enjoyed her years working in a multicultural marketing position at a major financial services company—but “Miracle Worker,” her biting take on corporate politics and the boss looking for the perfect assistant, makes it clear she had some issues.
With a Bachelor’s in communication and languages from Rutgers and an MBA from Farleigh Dickinson University, “Keyboard Cathy” just might be the smartest, most literate “sushi loving chick in a suit” you’ll ever see performing at open mics, clubs and senior citizen centers around her home base of Hopewell Township, New Jersey. The song “So Long & Thanks for All the Fish” is about dolphins jumping into space when they realize the world is about to end. Likewise, “Keyboard Cathy” is ready to take off and conquer the heads and hearts of folks who appreciate a good melody with their wit and wisdom.
“It’s great having the freedom to write songs that are fun and quirky without worrying about how people will perceive you,” she says. “I’m inspired by artists like Neil Hannon and Rufus Wainwright who follow their own muses and have developed loyal followings that appreciate their music. I think the more people hear what I do, the more they will connect with where I’m coming from as an artist. I love making people happy with music, and it’s nice to give them something new in a style that they probably haven’t heard before.”