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Kristin Lems biography

Kristin Lems is a versatile composer, performing songwriter, folksinger and playwright from Evanston, Illinois, USA.  Born to an acclaimed concert pianist mother and musical Dutch immigrant father, Kristin studied music from an early age, singing in choruses and playing in orchestras.  As a teenager, Kristin picked up the guitar, like many others, and wholeheartedly raised her voice as part of the movement to make a better world. With guitar in arms, Kristin brought her upbeat musical stage presence to nationwide events for the ERA and women's rights, safe energy, peace, racial equality, and other pressing causes.


Equally at home before vast crowds or in small living rooms, Kristin Lems has shared the stage with two First Ladies, Maya Angelou, Captain Jacques Cousteau, Gloria Steinem, Helen Caldicott and Alan Alda. She's performed on stage with Pete Seeger, Tom Morello, Malvina Reynolds, Holly Near, Dan Fogelberg, Laura Love, Koko Taylor, Peter Paul and Mary, Michele Shocked, the BoDeans, Simon Townshend and others. New Yorker magazine called Kristin "a charmer in the most literal and least artificial sense of the word." Gloria Steinem named Kristin "a one woman argument against the notion that the women's movement doesn't have a sense of humor." The Illinois Times said, "Kristin not only has a beautiful voice, clear, crisp and forceful, but she is a very creative and thoughtful lyricist." And of Kristin's performances, The Evansville Courier said, "the performance was simple yet substantive, humorous, yet poignant, and always energetic and warm." [more reviews at the 'Press' tab]


Kristin's songs have been covered by Butch Hancock and Marcie LaCouture, Anne Feeney, Pilshaw and Sklamberg, Lucha, Margaret Roadknight, Katzberg and Snyder, Voices, The Los Angeles Women’s Community Chorus, and several choirs. Her songs are included in the Smithsonian/Folkways anthologies The Best of Broadside (2001) and the Social Power of Music (2019). Her 1979 song, How Nice! an early recorded song supporting marriage equality, was in Marching for Freedom, a video of the 1993 March on Washington, and her songs are included in Radical Harmonies, about the women’s music movement, and The Equal Rights Amendment:  Unfinished Business for the Constitution.  Her original song "The Heritage of Farming," was commissioned by the Illinois Farm Bureau as a theme song for a video which won a "Cindy" Award, which the producers credited to the song.  Find her songs on ITunes, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, or on YouTube, or on Hostbaby, which distributes her catalog.


Awards include the "Woman of Illinois Repute" of the Illinois Women's Agenda, the President's Award of Illinois NOW, the Humanist Heroine Award of the American Humanist Association, the Freethought Heroine Award of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and the Founder's Award of the Women in the Arts Foundation, for founding the National Women's Music Festival. In 2014, she received  the Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh Servant Leadership Award at Northeastern Illinois University for "lifetime contributions as a humanitarian singer and songwriter."   

She has been interviewed by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and Veteran Feminists of America, which are conducting oral history projects about the Equal Rights Amendment and the second wave feminist movement.

Outside of music, Kristin’s early talent in writing and academics resulted in a first place writing award from Scholastic Magazines, a National Merit Scholarship, and a Hopwood Award for poetry from the University of Michigan.  Kristin has also twice been a Fulbright Scholar.

Kristin sings at conferences and music festivals, for tributes and rites of passage, at libraries, senior centers, preschools, and in the classroom, as part of her work as an ESL teacher and teacher trainer.  She has writen a musical play about the life of Jane Addams, who was a direct and dramatic part of her own family’s Chicago history. Kristin enjoys a wide variety of musical activities, but most of all, she enjoys singing for those working for a greener, fairer, and more peaceful world.