Tag Archives: Katie Noonan

At 52, Kat Noon’s Music Career Takes Off

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.

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.

Kat Noon, in concert.

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 Noon and Jon Herington.

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.

A sprawling Makola Market inspired Kat to write “Accra Blues.”

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).

With her husband Mark Noonan, at a rooftop bar in Ghana’s capital. Kat’s friends from India henna-ed her hand.

“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.)

Kat Noon’s new EP.

Danny Fishman: From Goldman Sachs To Guitar Tracks

In 2015 — straight out of college — Danny Fishman landed what many Westporters consider a dream job: Goldman Sachs.

It seemed like the perfect segue: from Staples High School and Tufts University, to prestige, stability and happiness.

Except it wasn’t.

Fishman had always been successful. At Staples, he was part of state and FCIAC championship volleyball teams. He snagged a Goldman internship in college, the summer before senior year.

Danny Fishman, Staples High School volleyball star.

Yet, he says now, that internship — and the subsequent job offer — was just “a retreat to safety.”

His good friend Andrew Accardi died during Fishman’s junior year at Tufts. “I did a lot of soul-searching,” Fishman says. “I felt lucky for my own life, and terrible that his had been cut short. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew I didn’t want to drift passively.”

He set his sights on finance, as “a challenge. I thought I’d find purpose and direction there.”

He moved to Battery Park. He was assigned to the prime brokerage branch in the securities division. He learned the ropes and earned greater responsibilities, including client interaction. There was plenty of socializing with his fellow hires.

However, he says, “I didn’t identify with the values of the people around me. The uniformity, the hive mind, the mentality of what success looked like — it was omnipresent.”

He did not fit in.

Danny Fishman

“From an abstract point of view, I don’t disagree with the sense of vicious competitiveness,” Fishman explains. “I just didn’t see myself that way.”

He felt “beat up, exhausted. I didn’t know if I had a ton to offer, or if I should offer what I had.”

Though it was “a pretty miserable experience from the get-go,” he does not want to exaggerate the experience. Half of his best friends now are people he met at work.

He had made a commitment to himself to stick it out — “if I get good at this, will I feel better about it?” he asked himself — but when he got a how-you-doing postcard from Accardi’s mother, he took it as a sign.

After a year and a half at Goldman Sachs, he quit.

Fishman moved back home to Westport (an option he knows is not readily available to many). He “let go of the fear of trying to pursue something in music” — a hobby that had always brought him joy and energy, but that he had never committed himself to.

He studied the craft of performing. He wrote music. He took a cross-country trip, crashing on friends’ couches and stepping up at open mic nights in Nashville, Austin, Denver and Los Angeles.

Wherever he stopped, he made new friends.

Danny Fishman on stage.

Fishman recorded a demo of songs he’d written. He “stumbled forward,” learning about promotion and booking.

His first single got 28,000 plays on Spotify. His second got 9,000 in just the first 5 days.

Back home, he met Katie Noonan in a doctor’s waiting room. They chatted; he learned she was a musician too. He had his guitar — he brings it everywhere — and sang for her. She’s offered plenty of support (including a gig at her 50th birthday party).

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Fishman has learned. “And failure doesn’t feel bad when it’s in pursuit of something you want to do.”

When he “failed” in finance, he says, “I beat myself up. In music, failure leads to something productive.”

The music community, he found, is not a zero-sum game. He has been helped by many performers, writers and producers, and tries to help others.

Danny Fishman and Katie Noona

I told Fishman that a story like this will bring negative comments from readers, lambasting him for turning his back on a well-paying job he got in part because of his background, then returning to that very environment.

“I am super, super lucky to have parents with a home I can come back to,” he says. “Westport is a beautiful place, with lots of resources. I know I’ve been blessed in life.”

But, he continues, “Having money doesn’t make everything easy. If people don’t view my experiences as legit, nothing I can do will change that.”

So, if he went back to counsel himself as a Staples senior in 2011 — not knowing what he wanted, or how to get it — what would he say?

“Try not to worry so much about what other people think of you,” he says. “Be who you are, even if it doesn’t conform to the image of success others painted for you.”

Meanwhile, Danny Fishman will continue to record and tour. He’ll try to “stay true to what I want, and pursue it maturely and responsibly.”

Sounds like a recipe for success, in any field.