Glen Ellyn

The Glen Ellyn Historical Society had a great afternoon today presenting Kristin Lems in a Joyful Musical Tribute to Women's History: A Celebration of Women's History Month: The Once and Future Woman!

The audience of all women and two men clapped and clapped at the inspiring songs Lems sang. An entire Red Hat organization attended and posed for a photo. Photo 1: Kristin Lems at the piano...Photo 2: The Red Hatters chatting with Kristin.

Illinois Alumni Magazine

Chicago Tribune - suburban

Evanston singer-songwriter Kristin Lems can touch your heart or make you laugh. She does both on her seventh full-length album of original songs, "You, Me, and All of the Above." A CD release party will take place on Aug. 16 at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

The silken-voiced folk singer recorded her first CD in a decade because the National Women's Music Festival, which she founded when he was a student at the University of Illinois, was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

In addition to performing at the festival, Lems was the first recipient of the Women in the Arts Kristin Lems Social Change Through Music Award, which was created in her honor.

You can understand why that lifelong activist deserves that award by listening to "The Heart of a Woman," on the CD.

"They wouldn't leave. They all camped out, it became Camp Hope and the international press became interested," Lems explained.

On the lighter side, there's an ode to "Carl the Guinea Hen," which Lems laughingly refers to as "The most famous guinea fowl in the universe." It tells of Karl's appearance in an Evanston park and how neighbors fed and rescued him.

The album includes some new songs as well as some older ones. "The oldest was written in 1986 for the Chicago Song Contest when Harold Washington was Mayor," Lems said. She received a letter from the Mayor praising "Chicago I Will," but he decided not to declare a winner. She often plays the song but this is the first time it has been recorded.

"There's a very big production of it with nine backup singers from a Broadway show, and arranged by Susan Draus, who is musical director for Carole King's 'Beautiful' on Broadway," Lems said.

The album was produced by Lems' close friend Niles native Lynn Keller, a renowned bass player, who has performed for Broadway shows. "She's been on a hundred albums as a bass player," Lems noted. "She went to the U of I with me. We were in a women's band together."

Keller assembled some top musicians for the album, including legendary guitarist Tim Morey and Vance Okraszewski, drummer for "Mamma Mia."

Lems, who is a professor at National Louis University, admitted it was a little difficult to hand over full decision-making to Keller but it was a good thing. The singer/songwriter laughingly declared, "She was always right."

CD Release Party for 'You, Me, and All of the Above' by Kristin Lems

When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16

Where: Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Tickets: $12; $11 members

Contact: (773) 728-6000; or

Midwest Record

KRISTIN LEMS/You, Me and All of the Above:  Not every blast from the past has to be a chilling wind.  Sounding every bit as fresh and vibrant as when she was a fresh faced lass recording for Flying Fish, Lems has not only matured into the folkie’s folkie, she knows how to bring pop flourishes and worldwide accents into a program that careens from serious to funny to inspiring.  A first class set from stem to stern, Lems is raising the bar for all comers in her wake, it’s well done throughout.

Indiana State University Newsroom

Award-winning artist Kristin Lems will conclude Human Rights Day with a 7:30 p.m. performance at the Landini Center for Performing and Fine Arts.

Lems, who has shared the stage with such diverse individuals as Maya Angelou, Jacques Cousteau, Alan Alder and Peter, Paul and Mary, said her musical heritage stems from when she was a child.

"In my early years, I was always around classical music because my mom was a piano teacher in our home," she said. "I heard her students through my bedroom door every afternoon. I studied piano and oboe, but I got more interested in folk music in my teens because of people like Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte and the Chicago folk scene. I loved folk music and taught myself guitar. Pretty soon, I was singing folk music and writing my own songs."

NEIU Independent

…there were songs all evening, as singer Kristin Lems invigorated the atmosphere…. 

[Receiving the Mohammed Mossadegh Servant Leaders Award] “made me cry….joy and appreciation that there’s a place with the values we care about that keep our planet going,” Lems said.  The award recognized Lems’ collaboration with NEIU and Dr. Akbari on different events on campus, as well as her efforts as a humanitarian songwriter and singer. 

“Singing along was fun”…said a senior majoring in Management….


[print version only]

Daily Free Press

Feminists of all ages held hands and swayed to the melody of Kristin Lems' youthful voice as she strummed her acoustic guitar and sang “We Will Never Give Up.” The lyrics to her song, “We will never give up. We’ll never give in. Don’t you know we’ll never give up? We will never give up. We will never give up,” accompanied by her long, wavy blond hair and colorful outfit, made her hippie feminist days obvious to the crowd, who smiled and sang along with her. The feeling of accomplishment expressed in Lems' song set the tone for “A Revolutionary Moment,” a women’s conference hosted by Boston University’s Department for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies over the past weekend.

please click on the link for the remainder of the article...

Sun Times


Kristin Lems is a folksinger through and through. It’s not just the long hair, acoustic guitar and autoharp that give the Evanston resident away. It’s her total commitment to righting wrongs by performing original songs that get to the heart of important issues.

The messages may be strong but the lyrics are always witty and the messenger is genuinely warm and engaging. That’s why audiences are bound to love “An Evening with Kristin Lems,” a Hogeye Folk Arts concert at Lake Street Church in Evanston on Saturday, April 28.

A prominent voice during the women’s rights movement of the ’70s, Lems never runs out of ideas for her relevant numbers, as well as the songs she writes for fun. “I don’t have to wait for inspiration,” she said. “All I have to do is give myself the space to sit down and do it and an instrument so I can monkey around a little bit.”

Inspired by news

Keeping up with the news helps, though. “My job as a folk singer is to be a chronicler of what happens in my town,” Lems said.

One recent Lems song is about Jon Burge, who she described as “the torturing Chicago police lieutenant who was finally jailed after doing what he did for 25 years.”

The Evanston native has been immersed in music her entire life. “My mom is a concert pianist and piano teacher so I grew up in a home where piano lessons were being taught all the time,” she said. Naturally, Lem’s first instrument was the piano, although after a couple of years her mother wisely found a different teacher for her daughter. “She knew that the parental issues would get in the way,” Lems explained.

While attending Evanston Township High School, Lems played oboe in the school’s orchestra and band. She laughingly described that instrument as “an ill wind that nobody blows good.”

It was also during her high school years that a friend loaned Lems her guitar for one week. “I basically learned 60 percent of what I do today in that week,” the performer said. “All of a sudden, the whole universe opened up.”

Lems, who sang in an Evanston Township chorus, added folk singing to her list of musical talents. “By the end of high school, I was already playing for money,” she said.

She majored in English and creative writing at the University of Michigan, where she continued singing and strumming, and even ran a coffeehouse.

Her songs became more and more political. “I sang against the Vietnam War in college as an undergrad,” Lems said.

Following graduation, Lems taught in Iran for a year — singing in a Persian rock and roll band while she was there.

Women’s advocate

Her next stop was Champaign-Urbana, where she lived for 10 years. She started a record company and, in 1974, the National Women’s Music Festival. “I got very involved singing for the ERA and women’s rights and sang all over the country,” Lems said.

Lems continued her education while she was downstate, earning a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language. (She loves learning so much that Lems has since earned a second master’s degree and a Ph.D.)

After that, Lems taught English in Algeria for two years.

Becoming a mom — most of the time a single one — changed Lems’ focus. “For the next 15 years or so, I became a bona fide children’s musician,” she reported.

With her children grown — they’re now 24 and 20 — Lems has returned to performing music for adults. “I’ve been able to work my way back into the folk music I love,” she said. That includes performing on her own radio channel on Pandora.

Her return to “grownup” music is great news for Lems’ legion of loyal fans and the many new ones the dedicated singer/songwriter/musician is bound to attract.

Illinois Times


Thursday, March 18,2010

Kristin Lems is back

By Tom Irwin


­Kristin Lems plays at the Unity Church in Southern View on Friday, March 19, from 7-9pm. -


During the 1970s when Illinois became a battleground as a pivotal state in the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, many women and men spent a great deal of time and energy at the Capitol attempting to persuade our lawmakers and sway public opinion on the validity of the ERA. In the end, Illinois failed to ratify the proposed amendment and it never became a part of the US Constitution. Among the demonstrators was a young singer-songwriter named Kristin Lems who drove over from Champaign-Urbana to join fellow advocates in singing and playing original tunes and the songs of the day. This is back when folks actually played music for social change and expected it to do some good.

“I sang inside the rotunda many times with the ERA fasters and blood throwers,” said Lems, “and outside too, on the steps with demonstrators.”

In the middle of all this intense chaos she tells of “an amazing story” that as she relates it some 30 years later, still inspires a sense of awe and wonder in the depth and strength of the human spirit.

“A country-looking security guard approached me and struck up a conversation. He was definitely not liberal leaning, but said he enjoyed my music and wondered if I had any use for drums. His son had recently died in a plane crash and he wanted me to have his conga drums,” she said in a quiet voice filled with amazement. “I was there to protest and he was there to protect, yet he reached out to make this connection. I still have the drums.” She paused and then spoke in more upbeat tones. “Maybe he will read this and come to the show and I can give back his son’s drums.”

This is just one of the many incredible tales from the life of Kristin Lems, singer-songwriter, protester, union-activist, demonstrator, mother, writer, artist and now a back-on-the-scene performer. Through music and work she traveled extensively, received numerous awards and performed with distinctive artists and dignitaries, but several of her favorite stories begin and end here in the capital city.

“I’ve had a long-term relationship with Springfield,” said Lems, who currently resides in Evanston, just north of Chicago. “There is a good sense of place and people and pride — all the things that go along with a vibrant, juicy sense of community are here.”

She tells of playing Crows Mill School on “New Year’s Eve in ’77, ’78, ’79 — one of those years” and seeing the old wooden floor “go up and down” with the dancers while she sang, “Those Were the Days.” Her Springfield connection continued with performances at the Sangamon State University-sponsored Mother Jones banquets “a couple times in the ’90s” and a benefit for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom with Peg Knoepfle and friends in 2008. Throughout her career, along with a sincere devotion to the notion of personal and social empowerment through music, she also stayed committed to a balance of familial obligations.

“The thing about the Women’s Movement of the ’70s and ’80s — it was a totally different place back then. Politics and culture were not so separated,” she said. “But soon I became married with children and reinvented myself in that role.”

She dedicated her life to working, teaching and raising children until recently, when her last child went off to college. Now the urge to play music fits with the time available and Lems is at it again, playing house concerts and coffee shops, union meetings and schools, spreading the gospel of equality, decency and other nice and good stuff through her songs and lifestyle.

“The kids don’t want me to mope around and miss them, so I’m getting back on the road,” she admits. “I hope and believe I made an impact on people’s lives and opinions. And I’m not anywhere done yet.”

The AllMusic Guide


Kristin Lems is a gifted composer, songwriter, vocalist, and musician. Her mother, Carol Lems-Dworkin, was a concert pianist. Lems' father, a Dutch immigrant, was also musically inclined. It isn't surprising to find that Lems' own musical training began early on, starting with the piano, and later adding the oboe, guitar, composition, and voice. Lems was in her teens when she landed her first paying gig. It was a birthday party, and she earned a whole 20 bucks for her entertainment. By the time she entered college, she was performing in coffeehouses and the like. Her music is always enjoyable and often female empowering. That being the case, she has appeared at a number of women's events, like the Million Mom March in Chicago and plenty of benefits for civil rights and ecology. In 1974, she founded the National Women's Music Festival. Lems' music is a mixture of pop and folk and even a dash of rock. Her creative lyrics can make listeners think and the humorous touches she adds can make them laugh.

Over her outstanding career, she has shared the stage or opened for artists like Steve Goodman, Dan Fogelberg, Charlie King, Jane Sapp, and Peter, Paul and Mary. In 1978, Lems released her first album, Oh Mama. "Mammary Glands," "Talkin Gender Neutral Blues," "The Three Madonnas," and "Farmer" are some of the memorable tracks from this first offering. Lems didn't release her next full-length album, In the Out Door, until 1980. It was followed three years later by We Will Never Give Up. Born a Woman came out under the Flying Fish Records label in 1986. The album carries 13 original songs and won her positive reviews and a Top Ten folk/country album spot from Chicago Reader's. Two other albums followed, Sharing in 1989 and Upbeat! in 1994. For 2000, Lems' debut album was released again, this time on CD and with three new songs, with the extended title of Oh Mama -- Plus! "Ballad of the ERA," "How Nice," "Wrinkles," and "Open Sesame" are some of the tracks listed on her albums that are sure to please.

Pioneer Press

Celebrate mom with Mother's Day music May 8, 2008 Recommended Evanston musician and folksinger Kristin Lems has a great way of celebrating Mother's Day. At 2 p.m. Sunday, May 11, she will perform a family concert at Niles Public Library, 6960 W. Oakton St., and invite her mother, Carol Lems-Dworkin of Evanston, to be her guest. Lems chose to perform on Mother's Day because, "I can tie it into all the wonderful themes about spring and new life and Mother Earth, and people's own biological mothers, and hopefully make it a holistic, nurturance theme," she said. Lems will play a guitar and an autoharp, and use some puppets. » Click to enlarge image Singer Kristin Lems will present a concert honoring mothers at the Niles Public Library. She will start the performance with a Native American song translated from the Lakota language, "The Earth is Our Mother. We Must Take Care of Her." "That will be an opening chant without the guitar," Lems reported. "Then I'm going to sing songs about a lot of nature themes. Since I know that at these library performances a lot of the children are very young, I'll have some [songs] that have hand gestures they can do so they can participate even if they're very, very small." For details, call (847) 633-1234.,dc-famfriendly-050808-s1.article

Newsroom, Indiana State University

excerpt about Kristin from the article:

Award-winning artist Kristin Lems will conclude Human Rights Day with a 7:30 p.m. performance at the Landini Center for Performing and Fine Arts.

Lems, who has shared the stage with such diverse individuals as Maya Angelou, Jacques Cousteau, Alan Alda and Peter, Paul and Mary, said her musical heritage stems from when she was a child.

"In my early years, I was always around classical music because my mom was a piano teacher in our home," she said. "I heard her students through my bedroom door every afternoon. I studied piano and oboe, but I got more interested in folk music in my teens because of people like Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte and the Chicago folk scene. I loved folk music and taught myself guitar. Pretty soon, I was singing folk music and writing my own songs."
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