Kat Noon is living proof that — despite a major illness, and turning 50 — life goes on.
Actually, it gets even better. Kat is just hitting her stride.
In her native Washington, DC, she was Katie Feffer. After marrying Mark Noonan — a Staples High School and Duke University soccer star, now a very successful sports marketer — she became Katie Noonan.
But there’s already an Australian singer/songwriter with that name. So now — after releasing her first EP, at 52 — the world is getting to know Kat Noon.
Her long road to recording began when she was 16. Picking up the classical guitar her mother carried from Madrid to America in the 1950s, Kat strummed songs by Jim Croce, Carole King, the Stones and Fleetwood Mac.
At night Kat enjoyed live music at jazz, reggae and dance clubs. She went to concerts too: The Who, Kinks, David Bowie, U2, Madonna, Toots and the Maytals.
At Duke she performed West African and modern dance — and met Mark.
After college, Kat went on to earn a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology. Based in Chicago, she worked for a data analytics team at HR consulting firm Mercer. After work, she headed to blues clubs.
When Mark became chief marketing officer of Major League Soccer, the Noonans moved to Greenfield Hill. They had 2 girls. While they were in preschool, Kat found time to take guitar and voice lessons at Westport Music Center.
She started writing songs. With native Westporters John Porio and Chris Myers, she hit local stages and back patios with the garage band The Hollow.
Then came KNB — Katie Noonan Band — covering tunes by Suzanne Vega, Steely Dan and Blind Faith.
She was hooked. But her fulltime job was managing the back office and keeping books for Mark’s marketing firm, FocalSport.
In 2008, the economy tanked. KNB’s keyboardist moved away. The next year, Kat was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The family had already lost Katie’s mother and Mark’s sister Clare to the disease. Yet despite 2 surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, Kat never broke stride.
She was inspired by her doctor, Richard Zelkowitz, who encouraged her to “live your life.”
With her girls in middle school, she realized the best way to keep fear of a recurrence at bay was to take on a new challenge. She helped launch a new R&D group: Mercer’s Workforce Sciences Institute. Music fell by the wayside.
But when Mark was traveling 200,000 miles a year as a senior executive with the World Surf League, Kat decided to focus on family, and find stimulation in music.
In 2015 Mark and her girls gave her a Mother’s Day gift: a spot at the Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop and Festival in Montana. She performed in the mainstage tent, and met and learned from international artists like Jon Herington of Steely Dan.
Kat returned twice more over the next 3 years. She took workshops and master classes taught by Jim Messina, one half of Loggins and Messina. (He suggested her stage name.)
The opportunity to step out as a solo artist finally came when Mark was hired as CEO of the Hearts of Oak soccer club in Accra, Ghana. With their daughters in college, it was a perfect opportunity for an empty nest adventure.
The music scene in the African capital was lively. Kat landed a string of gigs — embassy events, opening for popular artist Broni, guest sets with an indie band.
Her fresh, unusual experiences inspired new songs. Turning 50, she decided to venture into the recording studio.
The Noonans returned to the US after corruption in the Ghana Football Association upended soccer in that country. Working with Westporter Danny Fishman — who she first met when he walked into a doctor’s waiting room carrying a guitar — Kat recently recorded a self-titled EP.
Songs include “Here I Come” (inspired by Africa); “Shadowed (written after her mother’s death), “Accra Blues” (a humorous acknowledgment of life in unfamiliar surroundings) and “You Belong Here With Me” (an ode to her husband).
“Kat Noon” has already earned over 40,000 streams on Spotify.
Landing in Denver, she again picked up some projects with Mercer — this time on gender equity and experienced worker inclusion issues — for Westport resident and global business head Pat Milligan.
“I’m prioritizing balance, a healthful lifestyle, and music that feeds my soul,” Kat says.
She’s also trying to set up performances in this area.
It’s been a long, strange trip for Kat Noon.
But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
FUN FACT: Kat’s retro-flavored logo awas designed by Connecticut musician friend and renowned illustrator Gerard Huerta. He’s done logos and album artwork for AC/DC, Blue Oyster Cult, Ted Nugent, HBO, Arista and HBO.
(“Kat Noon” is available on Spotify [click here], YouTube, Apple and most major music platforms. Her social media tag is @katnoonmusic.)