Published August 14, 2019


LYNNFIELD — Katrina Gustafson attended a Taylor Swift concert while in eighth grade in 2011 and realized there that she wanted to write and perform music. She has been writing and recording music ever since then and performing at local businesses and events.

“I saw that (Taylor Swift) likes to tell a story with her music and I thought that was so cool – putting words to what people feel,” said Gustafson. “I like that people can use their music to not only change their own lives, but also other people’s lives and to inspire others.”

Gustafson said she was often singing at a young age, but never considered it professionally until her freshman year of high school in 2013. Her family had recordings of her as a child singing “Xanadu” by Olivia Newton-John and other songs.

“I had a little country twang in my voice when I was little,” said Gustafson.


Gustafson’s grandfather introduced her to folk music and country music, while her parents showed her classic rock. These introductions to music shaped her tastes when she became a songwriter.

Gustafson started playing guitar at 13 and her first performance was at Lynnfield High School’s Coffee House.

“That was terrifying for me because I had never sang in front of anyone before,” said Gustafson. “It was a cool experience.”

Gustafson also started writing songs and music in her early teens. She began to take some poems from her past and turn them into songs.

“I always liked poetry, and I didn’t realize that you could just put a melody to that,” she said.

She continued to write her own music and perform at coffee houses before making a portfolio of herself and CDs of her original music and covers to find performance gigs elsewhere. Some of her first performances were at the Topsfield Fair and at Flatbread Company in Bedford.

“My mom helps out with promoting me and came with me in the beginning,” Gustafson said. She expressed that her mother was very helpful especially at the beginning of her career when Gustafson was just 13-years-old.

Since then, Gustafson has been studying elementary education at Westfield State University. She said she hopes to use her music to help students learn in the classroom. She explained her two passions in life are children and music, and whichever path she follows in the future will make her happy.

Still, Gustafson expressed her love for writing music and said she would love to be a ghostwriter.

“I’m obsessed with words sounding perfectly and matching exactly how you feel,” she said.

Gustafson emphasized she loves music that shares a strong message. Performing was just as exciting as writing was for her.

“I just started loving the feeling of singing in front of people, whether it be covers or originals, and the reactions I get from people when they hear my originals is so cool because it’s like my diary,” said Gustafson.

People’s appreciation of Gustafson’s lyrical feelings and their ability to relate to those feelings made performing special.

Gustafson further developed her love for country music and artists because of the culture and storytelling involved. She said Taylor Swift and Shania Twain are two of her biggest inspirations.

“My inspiration changes a lot because there’s so many great people out there,” she said. She found smaller artists on YouTube and Pandora. Other popular artists such as Maddie & Tae and Kelsea Ballerini showed her that other people had similar music journeys to hers, which encouraged her to keep going.

“It’s therapeutic and a way for people to handle things,” said Gustafson of songwriting. “Watching interviews with other artists was when I realized I wanted to handle my situations like that.”

Still, while Gustafson’s voice sounds country, she explained the production on her original music is less country. She uses a studio in her basement to record rough, acoustic tracks and masters the songs afterwards. She writes all her music by ear and records random lyrics and melodies on her phone to turn them into songs later. She hopes to work on her production skills in order to make her music sound more country.

Despite her love for country music, she doesn’t plan on moving to the south anytime soon.

“I want to be like the Nashville in New England – like that little country singer in our area,” said Gustafson. She does hope to visit Nashville again.

As summer comes to an end, she is closing out her summer gigs. She is performing at Southern Tide at MarketStreet in Lynnfield on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 12 to 2 p.m. and at “Music on the Green” at 3rd Ave. in Burlington on Thursday, Aug. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. To keep up with her performance dates, visit Katrina Gustafson Music on Facebook. She is on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube under the name Katrina Gustafson.

Whether Gustafson keeps writing and performing as a career or uses her music in the classroom when she is a teacher, she hopes to send a message.

“I want to make a positive impact with my music for anybody that listens,” said Gustafson.