top of page
Katie Madison at Piano



"I live in music."

 — ntozake shange 




My lens is through that of a proud Black queer composer who was assigned female at birth and my calling as a writer is to tap into the universal truths of our most complex emotions and complicated experiences. My practice is by way of Detroit, to Northern Michigan, to the Canarsie and Munsee Lenape land known as Brownsville, Brooklyn.



Photo Credit // MJ Martinez

I can release myself from the pressure of perfection, the expectation of stereotypes, and the rigidity of conformity. I can transform my anger into action and put into practice all that I have and continue to learn from Black feminists, queer pioneers, accessibility advocates, social work practitioners and community builders. 

All Videos
"More Than Enough" (music, lyrics & arrangement by Katie Madison)

"More Than Enough" (music, lyrics & arrangement by Katie Madison)

I had the immense pleasure of collaborating with these incredible entities of light of the University of Michigan’s School of Music Theatre and Dance summer musical theatre program. One thing I asked myself was if I was doing a disservice to these humans by telling them that who they are is perfect, who are they are is worth it, who they are is somebody who deserves to be exactly who they know they are. In a world that loves to foster, create, and benefit from pain, distrust, and false narratives sold throughout the world, is there room for truth? Does my truth matter? I found myself reflecting back on my own lyrics, learning from these students that something I might have written in my own reality, in a dark day when I needed someone to remind me that by being myself, I’ve already “proven” that I matter, can resonate with humans who I’ve never met before, who’s truth is far from Brownsville, Brooklyn. At one point I was asked, “Katie, can you elaborate on the lyric ‘Days will be rough. You won’t want to be tough. And still they’ll call your bluff.” I know what these lines mean for me in my Black, queer, assigned female at birth, body, and I opened the question to the room, to see if they resonated with anyone else. One student bravely replied, “I think of it like an open channel to our ancestors, like we’re not here alone and there are generations of people rooting for you.” Another said, “I know that my parents would rather that I play sports, than pursue musical theatre, but this is what I love to do.” “What does it mean for you Katie?” they graciously asked. “I wish I could guarantee that the world we live in will keep you all safe, and see you, and hold you, and celebrate you, but I can’t. I experience this first hand. I have rough days, where I’m expected to push through and prove that I can handle it. And I hate that. I wish I could show the world my softness and not have it have any effect on any aspect of my life. I wish I wasn’t expected to work twice, three times as hard as anyone else, to prove that I’m worth it. Just because I have the ability to be tough, does not mean that I want to have to be. Has anyone ever said a joke out loud and maybe even slapped you on the back when doing so, or said it so loudly to insure a majority based response from anyone around? And you somehow found the courage to say, “That wasn’t funny.” or “I don’t agree.” or “I don’t like that you said that.” and the response was “Oh, you’re too sensitive.”, “Take a joke.” “I’m just kidding.” The older I get, the more I’m unpacking my proximity to bullies. And bullies aren’t always who the movies would like us to believe they are. Bullies come in all shapes, shades, sizes and spaces. And sometimes, unfortunately, it’s those closest to us, who feel the most comfortable dismissing our truth. I want to thank these entities of light who shared so profoundly and graciously with me. I want to thank Cynthia Kortman Westphal, who shows up as an ally and a mentor in my life with not just her spirit, heart, and mind, but also with her physical body, and I want to thank my village, the family who I choose, who choose me right back, who support each new chapter in this book of life, that so often feels like it’s being written by anyone other than me. You are, and have always been more than enough.
bottom of page