Katherine Paul (she/they) is a Swinomish/Iñupiaq singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who performs under the moniker Black Belt Eagle Scout. Born and raised along the Skagit River on Puget Sound in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Paul was immersed in the musical traditions of her culture from a young age as both a jingle dress dancer through her family’s drum group, the Skagit Valley Singers. Paul’s connection to the natural world is woven throughout her music, which “affirms a deeply spiritual relationship to the land: the way it nurtures and provides healing for her community, and creates a bond between the living and their ancestors” (Toronto Star).
Black Belt Eagle Scout’s indie alternative rock cites a number of ‘90s musical influences from riot grrrl to Nirvana. 2017’s Mother Of My Children, the successor to Paul’s self-titled EP, was their breakout debut, an examination of grief and heartbreak that issued a cry of solidarity during the resistance at Standing Rock in the previous year. With a sound that has been likened to fellow indie singer-songwriters Feist, Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, and Julien Baker, Paul’s “reverberant, wide-open sound suggests a sense of possibility and the broad sweep of history” (Pitchfork).
2023’s The Land, The Water, The Sky, Paul’s latest album since At The Party With My Brown Friends (2019), is a love letter to their ancestral lands. Through gauzy instrumentation and driving percussion interspersed with hints of the Coast Salish music tradition, Paul paints the soundscape of the Pacific Northwest with an impressive clarity. The album is a testament to community and the power of coming home, as she reflects on her COVID-era move from Portland, Oregon, back to Swinomish and the healing that followed. The Land, The Water, The Sky recognizes not only her own lineage but the history of the land itself – and invites listeners to take a journey of healing and resistance through Paul’s eyes.