University musician embraces her own style of music



Nicholas Miller

Although there are never hard and fast rules for radio play, modern music tends to fall into one of two categories: simple, short, catchy and easily digestible, or dark, contemplative and complex.

Kathleen Galgano must not have gotten the memo.

“There’s something I find so fascinating about writing a song that’s likable enough to sing along with on the radio, but with words that speak to the darkest corners of our thoughts,” says Galgano, a 20-year-old singer-songwriter, as she tucks away a lock of her wavy, brown hair behind her ear and stares pensively across the room.

“It’s fun. I think it’s something that defines my music.”

Galgano is speaking softly as she sits behind an old, dusty upright piano in a dimly lit room on the West Campus, occasionally working a few diminished chords and musical runs into the conversation.

As we step into my make-shift studio, I notice her fresh red nail polish and flowing, earth-toned cardigan—all belying her sunburst Les Paul electric ukulele which she plays as a nod to her love for alternative rock (perhaps a theme arising from her lyrical dichotomy).

Galgano is a junior marketing and international business double major in the Villanova School of Business, though she admits to often using class time for writing lyrics instead of note taking and is the fourth member of her immediate family to attend Villanova. 

While at Villanova, she has embraced the idea of Augustinian compassion by becoming heavily involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters and community volunteering, and has even co-founded her own on-campus organization this semester called the Music & Instruments Club.

As she runs through her vocal warmups, the Long Island native tells me of all the venues along the east coast where she has already performed.

“I try to play out as much as possible at open mics and bars, but I know regardless of how much I play, I can always do more,” she said humbly.

“In the past year, I was lucky enough to have gotten to sing all around the area from New York to Pennsylvania to Florida.”

But traveling around the area is nothing new to Galgano, who has vacationed coast to coast across the country and has been on several trips exploring Europe. Adding to the list, she will be spending next semester studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium.

“Belgium was an easy choice for me, I’m going for the beer,” she said chuckling. “I just want to learn the language and eat some waffles. Plus I’m hoping to get an internship and really immerse myself in the European culture.”

Galgano slips her yellow-flowered guitar strap over her shoulder, tugs at her scarf and clears her throat as she steps up to the microphone with a smile, a confirmation that she is ready to play.

Equipped with nothing but her ukulele, the singer-songwriter begins a three-song set list composed of two original pieces and a cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” which showcases her wide vocal range and naturally-honeyed voice. She breezes through the set with ease, and the look on her face tells the story of transcendence into a state of reverie and meditation during her own performance.

It is not hard to tell that this is not Galgano’s first shot at recording her music. Since the summer after her freshman year, she has recorded over a dozen original songs and written dozens more. Through all of her performances, she notes, she has always brought two things with her: a Dole mixed fruit cup and her gold necklace.

“I got the idea from my brother,” she explains when asked about the fruit cup. 

“He’s been playing guitar and singing at bars for years and has been a huge musical inspiration on me since I was little. He always eats one [of the fruit cups] before going on stage and it helps him sing all night without losing his voice, so I’ve always done the same.”

An unorthodox routine, perhaps, but Galgano claims that it has brought her plenty of success already and is not a part of her warmup that she plans on ceasing anytime soon.

As for her necklace, she clutches it caringly as it rests on her chest and explains how it was gift from her mother. In seventh grade, Galgano earned the lead role of Dorothy in her school’s theatrical rendition of “The Wizard of Oz.” 

The part was her first major public musical performance, and was given the necklace as a memento. Ever since, she is yet to play in public without sporting her most precious piece of jewelry.