MusicalWriters Academy Member Katie Brady is an award-winning composer, playwright, and singer/songwriter.  Her musical comedy The Test won MOST OUTSTANDING MUSICAL at the International San Diego Fringe Festival 2016.  Her songs “Hear You In The Wind,” “My Pet Rock” and “Dusty Stone Floor” (the latter co-written with the very talented Debbie Ladas) have received “Best Song” awards in multiple arenas.  Her play Saving Grace won a judges choice award.

Ms. Brady has composed and performed both as a solo artist and front-woman for SF-based bands CrackerJack Tattoo (winner of BEST BAY AREA BAND) and Sweet Harriet. She is currently earning her MFA in musical theater writing at Berklee College Of Music NYC. 

MusicalWriters sat down with Brady to talk about being overly dramatic (something with both have in common!) and more for this month’s Member Spotlight.

How did you get started writing musicals?

Katie Brady: I began blending what I knew about storytelling with my many years of songwriting when my oldest was filling out college applications. I tested my storytelling chops with a short play in the International Fringe Festival.  I followed that with a musical that received the “Most Outstanding Musical” award the subsequent year. As I think about it, that wasn’t actually my first musical, though. My first writer credit belongs to ten-year-old me writing a jukebox musical (before that was a thing) as a lonely, unpopular girl in fourth grade.  I believe the big “I want song” was “What The World Needs Now Is Love” by Jackie DeShannon.

Fly Fly Fly Logo

Fly Fly Fly Show Logo

What are you working on right now?

KB: I have several projects in the works.  Fly Fly Fly, a  musical comedy about an empty nester struggling with loss of home and identity and The Heart Of Walden Gray are my biggest projects currently. 

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from your writing journey that you’d like to share?

KB:  Musical theater is perhaps the most collaborative art form.  And collaboration itself is an art.  I learn so much about myself each time I enter into a collaboration. I am constantly being challenged to stretch, to question my assumptions, to reserve judgment, and to be assertive. I am a fiddler on the roof, balancing between standing up for my choices and allowing room for other ideas to grow. 

Writing a musical isn’t easy. What’s your “why” in being a musical writer?

KB:  Has anyone ever said to you, “You’re so dramatic”?  This insult can lead to fight or flight.  As a child receiving this metaphorical slap, I chose flight. I receded, became smaller, and took fewer risks. I got comfortable. But I have come to believe life is meant to be more than comfortable. I want to reach the end of my time wrung out, having used all of my talents for good. I am a song creator. I am a storyteller. And I believe good music, thoughtful music can strengthen a story’s impact. We learn through stories.  And they don’t have to be tragic or hair-raising to be life-altering.  I watched The Good Place, basically a 30-minute sitcom series, and I am forever changed because of it.  I want to be a contributing part of the conversation shaping the landscape of musical theater.  And, for personal healing, I want to celebrate all the crazy bits inside of me that are so dramatic.

Why did you join MusicalWriters Academy?

KB:  I found this community quite by accident looking for education and collaboration opportunities online. I found the information and resources to be really useful, timely and unique. I joined a writers group shortly after and attended my first conference in 2023.

What was your most memorable moment from the most recent Musical Writers Festival?

KB:  There have been a few memorable moments, including a critical reading of my empty-nest musical Fly Fly Fly and the friendships I made at the conference.  But my highlight was hearing professionals like Major Attaway sing some of my work-in-progress.  It opens up so much to see a professional actor embody a character I am creating.

Click here to register for the 2024 Musical Writers Festival.

The Test Show Logo

The Test Show Logo

What’s your proudest accomplishment as a musical writer?

KB:  Winning the award for Best Musical at the San Diego International Fringe Festival for The Test was so affirming.  But some of my proudest moments have been when people tell me that something I wrote was meaningful to them in some way.  That’s really why I do what I do. 

Do you have any regular collaborators?

KB:   I write book, music and lyrics, so I create both as a solo artist and collaboratively depending on the project.  One collaboration I am currently involved in is on a piece called The Heart Of Walden Gray about the heart of a young man who, after learning of a terminal diagnosis, becomes determined to tear down its own walls and live fully. My wonderful collaborators Harrison Lewis and Madeleine Ackley are so talented and full of heart. It is a joy breathing this story into existence with them. 

What do you love about

KB: Well, in a word: Rebecca. There are so many great resources through this organization: submission opportunities, writing groups, and the conference. There are opportunities to get readings, hear your material performed and meet other professionals.  And Rebecca is the glue and the best champion for new works.

What is your favorite musical writing (tech) tool?

KB:  I write a lot of music in Logic Pro because it allows me to hear multiple voices and harmonies as I imagine characters and scenes.  I also like the ability to hear the songs on instruments I don’t play yet like clarinet and cello. 

Click here for a Musical Writers masterclass all about Logic Pro.

What’s the best way to get better as a musical writer?

KB: For me, the best way is to study and see shows. I have read countless books on story creation (some favorites are Save The Cat, Invisible Ink, and The American Musical), and I have read countless books on psychology (my current favorite is The Tools).  Then it’s time under tension – just like working out. Give dedicated time to it, give yourself deadlines and WRITE.

Do you have a website?  What tool or service did you use to create it?

KB: My website is  I used Bandzoogle.

Do you use social media as a writer?  Which site is your favorite?

KB: I am working on embracing social media as a necessary networking tool. 😁 I am on Instagram.  @katiebradymusic  And Facebook, does anyone use Facebook anymore?

Just for fun: What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure” album to listen to on repeat?

KB: I have a guilty pleasure song list!  A few highlights: “Roll With The Changes” by Reo Speedwagon, “Freedom!” 90 by George Michael, “Love Will Come to You” by the Indigo Girls, and “You And Me On The Rock” by Brandi Carlisle. 

Lightning Round with Katie Brady

Coffee or tea? Tea, herbal
Cats or dogs? dogs
Digital or analog? digital
Fly solo or team up? Tough one, depends
Pizza or Hamburgers? hamburgers
Road trip or fly? Road trip
City, Country, or Suburbs? Yes, and…
Flip Flops or Crocs? crocs
Apple or Android? apple
Most recently used emojis? Huge smiley face
Last thing you texted? A very optimistic, “Be home in 10”
Three things within arms reach right now? A colored gel pen, my piano keyboard and a big, sleeping dog

What is one question you wish we would have asked?

What’s the best way to ensure you walk miles everyday regardless of weather or time constraints?  Get a big, energetic dog. 

Thanks so much to Katie Brady for sharing her time and her talents with Musical Writers!

Connect with – and learn more about – Katie at