Black Belt Eagle Scout is the project of Portland’s Katherine Paul. Her debut record, “Mother of My Children,” pairs her meditative, softly sung lyrics to a brooding, grungy stew of guitar. The record was re-released last year by Saddle Creek Records, home to Connor Oberst, The Mynabirds and others. For this opbmusic session, Paul is joined by bassist Grace Bugbee and drummer Camas Logue.

Katherine Paul grew up on the Swinomish Indian Reservation on Puget Sound in Northern Washington. The song “Indians Never Die” echoes the rhythmic tat-tat of Native drumming, while its words are in response to the events at Standing Rock. A sense of loss and reckoning runs through the album, as songs express grief after the death of her mentor, and the end of a long-time relationship. It ends, however, on an upbeat note: The album’s (and session’s) final song, “Sam, A Dream,” is about a relationship that appears in a dream, and its quiet beginning grows into an extended and beautifully florid finish.

In 2018, Katherine Paul spoke with opbmusic and “State of Wonder” contributor Nadya Klimenko about writing her debut album. Listen in the audio player below.

Black Belt Eagle Scout plays Mississippi Studios Jan. 18.


Recording: Nalin Silva
Mixes: Steven Kray
Editor: Nate Sjol
Videographers: Nate Sjol, Jarratt Taylor, Nick McClurg, Sararosa Davies
Executive Producer: David Christensen