Kathleen Edwards on Quitting Music to Open Up a Coffee Shop

Kathleen Edwards, a Canadian musician, was recently in a dark spot, putting a halt on her music career. One of her friends suggested to Edwards that she should change paths, and it ended up being the detour she needed to get back to songwriting.

Edwards paused her music career back in 2012 after the debut of her album “Voyageur.” This week she returns with her new album “Total Freedom.”

Leaving her music career

Before putting a halt on her music career, Edwards didn’t want to pursue music anymore. She always experienced a lot of anxiety when she had a list of things to complete every morning, forcing her to procrastinate. Luckily, when Edwards took these things off her to-do list, she felt a huge sense of relief as they affected her peace of mind.

Ever since Edward released her album in 2003, she has had a steady cult following that has grown over the years. When starting, Edward was constantly compared to Lucinda Williams because of her sweet-hoarse holler drew. However, with her unsparing and observant tone and exceptional songwriting skills, she has stood out as a brilliant musician.

Edward’s songs have always taken an outsider approach because they were somewhat unique. For instance, she once released a song named “One more song the radio won’t like.” However, by 2012 she started becoming more of an insider, causing her career to surge with the release of her album Voyageur. This was her first album to crack the US Billboard Top 40 list.

Shortly after the release of her album, Edward divorced Colin Cripps, her long time guitarist. She began dating Justin Vernon, her album’s co-producer, and their relationship made them sort of a power couple.

Unfortunately, behind the scenes, Edwards was struggling because of her recent divorce. Additionally, Vernon’s growing career further strained their relationship. Initially, they had bonded over their shared experiences as musicians, but with Vernon’s success, this quickly changed, making it difficult to find common ground.

At the time, Vernon had collaborated with famous musicians such as Taylor Swift and Kanye West, and Edwards stated that she didn’t need that in her life. In 2012, they decided to break up, forcing Edwards to face her personal issues. She was suffering from clinical depression but didn’t want to accept it. Instead, she put on a brave face and made public appearances.

Opening a café

Later on, one of Edward’s friends suggested that she quits music to open up a café called “Quitters.” Edward took it as a joke at first, but when she had moved back home to recover from her clinical depression, she decided to explore the idea.

In 2014, she saw a for rent sign on an old building in her neighborhood, and she leased it to open up her café. Quitters is quite a popular café shop in Edward’s region, and it has some regulars, who are mostly retirees.

A woman also once wrote Edwards stating that she had come out as transgender at the shop because it symbolized a safe and meaningful place.

Becoming a small business owner

Although Edward had previous experience working at a café, becoming a small business owner was her first step to handling the challenges professional people face. Quitters managed to get her out of the bubble of musicians she had been in since her early 20s.

Edward became so detached from the music world that she didn’t notice her 57 Les Paul Junior was stolen until weeks later.

Return to music

Some of Edward’s fans would drive to her café to tell her how her records impacted their lives. In 2017, Maren Morris wrote to Edwards, asking her to co-write a song. She agreed, and they wrote the song “Good Woman” that’s part of Morris’s 2019 album. This marked Edward’s return to her music career.

So far, Edwards has written several love and breakup songs.


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