Kristin Lems is a versatile composer, songwriter, folksinger and performing artist from Evanston, Illinois, USA. Born to an acclaimed concert pianist mother and musical Dutch immigrant father, Kristin studied music from an early age. Her early talent in writing and academics won her many awards, including a first place from Scholastic Magazines, a National Merit Scholarship, and a Hopwood Award for poetry from University of Michigan. As a teenager, Kristin picked up the guitar, like many others, and wholeheartedly joined the movement for 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, and sang a full song on Nightline. Musicians include 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."
Kristin performs an original song in the Grammy-nominated CD anthology The Best of Broadside, on the Smithsonian/Folkways label. Another album, Born a Woman (Flying Fish/Rounder), was in the Chicago Reader's Top Ten Folk/Country albums. She is also featured in Radical Harmonies, about women's music, for founding the National Women's Music Festival.
Kristin's songs have been recorded by Butch Hancock, Anne Feeney, Katzberg and Sklamberg, Margaret Roadknight, Voices, and others. Her 1979 song, How Nice! is one of the first songs supporting marriage equality, and was included in a video by NGLTF of the historic March on Washington for gay rights. Her songs have been played on Car Talk, Dr. Demento, folk syndications and in documentaries. Kristin's tribute to American farm women, "Farmer," was featured in an Ann Landers column and written up in Farm Journal Magazine. Her bilingual round "We are Stars" has been sung by several choruses and choirs. Kristin's songs are published in Here's to the Women, Rise up Singing, Fresh Takes, Sing Out!, Songs for Earthlings, Broadside, Rounds Galore, Pulling our Own Strings, and The Feminist Dictionary.
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. Kristin is also a Fulbright Scholar.
Kristin sings for rites of passage, for libraries, school assemblies, as a music and singing teacher in preschools, and as part of her work as a teacher of English learners. She enjoys a wide variety of musical activities, from conferences to coffeehouses, restaurants to rallies, birthday parties to choral events, playing music with the very young, the very old, and those in between, but most of all, Kristin especially enjoys singing for those striving to build a better world.