At Catherine Marie Charlton's first solo piano concert at the age of 18, a woman in the audience was so moved that she sent flowers with a note that read "Only once before in my life has another pianist brought tears to my eyes. You play with both strength and tenderness- how beautiful." The letter now hangs framed in Charlton's studio. Catherine Marie says that “Ever since that day, I have striven to express my passion through the piano, to recreate emotions through sound, and to touch listeners’ hearts with my music.”
Steinway Artist Catherine Marie Charlton’s albums have received extensive worldwide airplay, including on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, cable TV’s Music Choice, and PRI’s Echoes. Her journey as a recording artist began in 1994 when a selection from her first piano improvisation CD Strange Attractors appeared on millions of consumers’ desktops as an “example” file in Apple Computer’s QuickTime multimedia software. Ensuing recordings earned assorted accolades, including multiple nominations in the Independent Music Awards and the Just Plain Folks music awards. River Dawn: Piano Meditations (2001) and The Undershore (2004) both debuted at #3 on the NAV/NAR (now Zone Music Reporter/ZMR) radio charts.
In 2012, the artist celebrated the 10th anniversary of River Dawn with a newly re-mastered re-release of the pivotal fan-favorite album. The album was also licensed for release by The Monroe Institute’s Hemi-Sync line of music, as well as the highly regarded Hypnobirthing Centre in the UK to help mothers give birth gently and calmly. Chuck Elliott of WXPN Philadelphia stated that the CD yielded “…peace you might not think imaginable from music,” and New Age Retailer's reviewer referred to the original River Dawn, as evoking "…a gentle tranquil serenity that had me in tears of gratitude for the exquisite beauty."
As a young girl, Catherine Marie was fascinated by a myriad of musical influences: Romantic and Impressionist piano music from her classical studies, Virginia fiddle music, and early new age artists Liz Story, George Winston, and Enya. After completing a combined engineering and music degree from Cornell University, music by various improvisational masters (Keith Jarrett, David Darling, Cecil Taylor, et al.) tilted her more and more in their direction. Ten years after her first CD, Charlton took some time off from commercial recordings and performed extensively in a piano-percussion duo, exploring the European and free jazz of her inspirations. James Reilly, Chairman of the Philadelphia Society for Art, Literature & Music said of her live performances, “Catherine Marie Charlton has the genius, sensitivity and strength to fuse contemporary jazz improvisation with classical styling in a way that stops you in your tracks. She is a star in ascension.”
Charlton's first pregnancy “…brought a more inward focus on my music... [it] made me want step away from improvisation and re-learn how to study and memorize classical greats.” When she was six months pregnant, she traveled to Maine to perform in the Schoodic Arts for All Classical Series. Of her performance, Executive Director Mary Laury said “The music was an exciting mix...executed in superb musicianship.” One year later, she recorded Red Leaf, Grey Sky: Piano Improvisations, inspired by the turbulent emotions from her first year as a mother. The CD won “Best Instrumental Album- Piano” in the 2011 ZMR Awards just three days after the birth of her second child.
Her inward focus has culminated in her April 2013 release, River Flow - Sanctuary, another 60-minute uninterrupted solo piano performance. Played on the same piano as River Dawn, the artist recorded the one-take improvisation late at night while her family slept. Charlton says that River Flow is “…inspired by the search for moments of peace amidst the chaos of motherhood.”