Meet Kat Harlton:

Kat Portraits -3

Entrepreneur, storyteller,
community maker,
artist, dream catcher, genius,
positive force in the world at large.

Kat Portraits -6

 Photo credit: Patrick Hodgson Photography

Once you meet Kat Harlton, you want her to be part of your world forever because she makes everything better. She is wise and witty, silly and steadfast, innovative and brave, supportive and nurturing; just what is needed to create a formidable empire, which is what she is forming. From the source, The mission of The Harlton Empire is to promote creative works by independent artists in the arts/entertainment industry. 

And now an excerpt from this very interview that exemplifies to me the solid embrace that is knowing Kat Harlton. You’ll read it again down below so don’t get confused and think you’re deja tripping. I just think it bears repeating and I’m the boss of this blog, so enjoy. “My greatest sense of accomplishment always comes from being able to stand back and watch as others accomplish their goals and dreams because I supported them. I know how important that support is, so when I see how hard they’re working, and how much it means to them, it makes me want to work harder myself. It makes me proud  and I don’t take for granted that they’ve allowed me to be part of their journey.”  Right? I know now you just want to hear from Kat herself, so I’ll just shut up and let her answer…

What is your career?

My career is a mixture of all of my favourite things.

Monday to Friday I work at SoCast SRM doing Client Support.  SoCast is the leading digital marketing platform for radio and we work with many large clients including Corus Entertainment.

All the rest of my free time goes to The Harlton Empire, Lithium Magazine and Rebel Rebel Music Magazine (UK) all of which I use as platforms to promote music, film and art. I write reviews of albums and shows, cover live events and exhibitions, host events, do interviews with numerous kinds of artists and in general try to encourage and promote a positive, healthy, and vibrant community spirit within the arts scene.

What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career? What is your advice to others embarking on similar career?

Like all careers, when starting out my biggest challenges were knowledge and experience.  Both of which came with time and trial and error. I strive to do my best always, and if there’s something I  don’t know, I’ll take it upon myself to figure it out. I was taught from a young age to never be afraid to ask questions or to ask for help, it’s the only way to learn.

The greatest rewards of my career have been by far the relationships I’ve made. Most of what I’ve done and continue to do wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of numerous people. People who took a chance on me, and believed in me  when I said I wanted to do all these things I’d never done before and knew nothing about.

My greatest sense of accomplishment always comes from being able to stand back and watch as others accomplish their goals and dreams because I supported them. I know how important that support is, so when I see how hard they’re working, and how much it means to them, it makes me want to work harder myself. It makes me proud  and I don’t take for granted that they’ve allowed me to be part of their journey.

5 years ago, did you expect to be where you are today? Why, why not?

Well, 5 years ago is about when I created The Harlton Empire, and my only goals were to help as many independent artists as possible however I could and to give back to the community when I was able. For the most part this continues to be my goal, I’m not after a specific title or occupation, I like to just consider myself a goodwill ambassador of sorts.

That said, I’ve been given a lot of opportunities that I never expected to have, from interviewing celebrities to booking sold out shows and to going on tours. I wouldn’t have anticipated any of that 5 years ago.

Where will you be in 5 years?

To be honest I have no idea, and that thought makes me happy. So far, I plan on continuing what I’ve been doing, I really enjoy exploring new options and connecting with new people and you never know where that can lead you. I’ve done a lot in the past 5 years, so If I manage to do even half of that again in the next 5 I’ll be having one hell of a life. Haha.

What would you say to your 8-year-old self?

Keep on, keep’n on. Don’t change a thing. It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.  P.S: Your future 30 year old self is one happy woman.

What would you say to your 80-year-old self?

Jesus Christ! You’re still alive?!… haha kidding.

I guess this would depend a lot on what I do between now and being 80, but for the most part, I work hard to live without regrets, so it’d probably be somewhere along the lines of “You did good kid”.

How lucky are you and why?

I get conflicted every time I’m asked this question. In one sense I consider myself to be a very lucky woman. I’m blessed with a life that many others will never experience, and I don’t take any of it for granted, which I think has come from a combination of hard work and taking opportunities when they’ve been presented. On the other hand, I don’t believe in coincidence. There have been a few occasions in my life when I’m certain the universe has given me a hand. I believe some things are meant to happen, and that certain people are meant to come into our lives, whether it’s pre-destined or designed by ourselves.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Hmmm, I guess it depends on who you ask. In general I consider myself a pretty open book. I actively work on being vulnerable and pushing my personal boundaries as I’ve found that reaps the biggest rewards.

Some people might be surprised to know I grew up in rural Southern Ontario, in between two small towns, surrounded by fields of crops and cattle for about the first 18 years of my life. My first job was working as a hired hand on my neighbours dairy farm. Probably not the first thing you’d expect when meeting me. Ha.

What makes you laugh? What is fun for you?

What makes me laugh? My boyfriend, Brandon. He’s always sending me funny memes from shows we watch, or jokes he makes up, or links to ridiculous stuff he found on the internet. He’s not afraid to be goofy or silly which is awesome.

As for what I can consider fun? Meeting new people, going to shows, collaborating, coming up with new ideas, experiencing new things, travelling. I’m an explorer at heart, and I’m always searching for something unique-something that fosters connection. That said, I’m also quite content to just chill in a park all day, or explore the city. I’m easy to please.

What is your favourite quote?

‘Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam’ it’s a Latin phrase, which roughly translates to ‘I will either find a way or make one’.  I consider this my personal mantra, so much so that I have it tattooed on my body. It’s how I govern my life, if I can’t find a way to do something, or I can’t do what I want through existing channels, then I’ll make my own way.

What inspires you?

It’s constantly changing. Though I frequently find myself drawn to the work of Patti Smith. There’s something about how raw and real she is in everything she does that inspires me to continue to search and create. I’ve read her autobiography ‘Just Kids’ numerous times and it’s something I find myself returning to over and over again.


For more and more, please enter the empire and connect with Kat in any forum below!
If you haven’t already, I hope you are lucky enough to meet her in person one day too! :)

Twitter: @harltonempire

As always, have a groovy day, everybuddy!



New Show Announced: She’s Listening!

You heard it here, folks! She’s Listening at the Beaver! Are yoooooou? :) Hope to see you in the new year! Join Kristine St-Pierre, Heather Hill, Jessica Speziale and Angela Saini and me at The Flying Beaver Pubaret as we once again raise some funds for Ovarian Cancer Canada– this time flying high at the Flying Beaver in Toronto! Come have some amazing food and fun-loving fundraising entertainment all rolled into one evening extravaganza! Ya! :)
Ovarian Cancer Poster Jan 2015 copy-1

PEOPLE PROFILE: Cynthia Pechenick

Meet Cynthia Pechenick,
Visual Artist!



Meet Some of Cynthia’s Girls!


cynthia art 2



cynthia pink

cynthia black

Right?! I was drawn by Cynthia’s use of lines and colour– of course, not literally drawn but wouldn’t THAT be cool?!  I love when an artist combines their colour proclivity with such a unique and personal sensibility that it can’t help but grasp you through their work like a fancy fingerprint. One day I will have a Pechenick in my home! ;) I had to know more about Cynthia! So I interrogated her, like any fan would!

Cynthia is questioned…

What is your career? Artist

What is the great challenges and rewards? Being an artist is a very solitary way of life, you are basically alone, with your ideas and your supplies, looking at a blank piece of paper, and you wait for the light bulb to go on. And then it does. The challenge is what happens next, how do you display your work, market your work, and sustain the lifestyle of being an artist. In my experience, creative people share a similar dilemma of being artists and not business people. The reward for me is having women from all over the world write me and feel connected on an emotional level to my work. Empowering girls and women is extremely important to me, and that is why most of my work seems to focus on women, girls, broads and babes.

What is your advice to others embarking on a similar career? Find a direction early. Everyone has something that they gravitate towards, I think the key is to find your niche and run with it.

What does it mean to be an artist? Being an artist has never been a choice, it is just who I am. It is a passion for me, and I paint every day, even when I’m travelling.

5 years ago, did you expect to be where you are today? 5 years ago I wasn’t on Facebook, I didn’t even know what is was. For me social media opened an opportunity that I never had before. For the first time, I was able to post my art, sell my art and have a worldwide forum for my art.

Where will you be in 5 years? Hopefully I will have found a strategic partner of some sort who has all of the qualities that I don’t have. I would love to have a book published with my girls, and have a girl for every day of the year, with a true life story to go with each painting, because we all have a story. To me success would be to see my work branded or for it to find a home within the commercial marketplace.

What would you say to your 8-year-old self? Follow your heart and be a leader, not a follower.

What would you say to your 80-year-old self? Just do it, eat what you want, love who you want, spend what you want and just say the heck with it!

How lucky are you and why? Very lucky. I have love in my life, a wonderful family, and to me that’s everything.

What would people be surprised to know about you? I love watching NBA basketball, playing scrabble and scouting out libraries.

What is fun for you? A road trip with my husband, which we do quite often.

What makes you question humanity? Bad people, hate and violence in the world.

What is your favourite quote? “Let your conscience be your guide.”


Cynthia recently had one of her paintings featured on T-shirts, mugs and bags with all proceeds going to the Flip Cancer benefit in California. Flip Cancer uses the healing power of art to help bring comfort and inspiration to cancer patients by employing artists to design entertaining and inspirational pieces, and then selling those pieces to raise money to help people with cancer… They also know the seriousness of this disease first hand and find it very important for sanity to have fun in the process by being RUDE WITH A CAUSE… ! What a great tagline and organization for a great cause! How rude? This rude! Check out the Flip Cancer Gallery here, which includes this great image by Vincent Waller. 


You can learn more at Flip through the images, choose a design or several and get them on mugs, T-shirts and/or shopping bags! Let’s Flip Cancer! 

For a bigger splash of Cynthia and her colours, please visit her FaceBook page!

As always, have a glorious day! May it be filled with light, colour, and a bit of fervent flipping!


Sultry, soulful & rockin’ out – Jessica Speziale brings it all with Shine CD launch

Kat Leonard:

What she said! :)

Originally posted on life with more cowbell:

20141122_204227An amazing night at The Duke Live last night for Jessica Speziale’s launch of her new CD Shine – produced by MC2 Records – and what a night! Red carpet, photo ops and a packed house – this event was a happenin’ place.

Opening band Andreas kicked off the night’s festivities with a bluesy, kick-ass rock set, perfectly priming the crowd for the main event and impressing big time.

From the opening chords, stepping out into the light and stage mist, Speziale had us. Pulling out all the stops, the band included a three-piece string section near the beginning of the set and a three-piece horn section towards the end. Sultry, soulful and rocking out with her band, Speziale is a commanding, yet playful, presence onstage. Well before her final song – the title track from the CD – and the encore (“Brace Yourself”), Speziale had folks up on their…

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Jingle Bells Santa Smells – December Events!

Kat Leonard:

I personally will have to buy my own stuff this year instead of pleading to Santa but I’ll be jingling bells at some of these events! Hope to see you all out ‘n’ about with your rosy snouts! :) xo

Originally posted on :

December is almost upon us and you know what that means.  Now the question is… have you been Naughty or Nice!

Nik Beat Tribute Show/Famous For Falling CD Release Party

Amersterdam Bicycle Club – 54 The Esplanade
December 6th

Wonderfest Poetry Series

Habits Gastropub
December 10th

Hosted by Lizzie Violet and feat. Brent Peers, Norman Cristofoli, Cynthia Gould


Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir and Fundraiser for The Street Store

The Central – 603 Markham Street
December 14th

feat. Teige Reid, Dottie Dangerfield, Rando Bando & North Star with Special Guest!


Winter Wonderland at Hirut – A night of music and poetry

Hirut Restaurant – 2050 Danforth Avenue
December 20th – 9 pm

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Audition notice for “I Am Marguerite”

Kat Leonard:

Hear ye thespians! Alumnae Theatre holding auditions! :)

Originally posted on The Alumnae Theatre Company's Blog:

No, your eyes do not deceive you. It’s not yet the end of calendar year 2014, but the final production of our 2014/15 season is announcing auditions.

I Am Marguerite

By Shirley Barrie

Directed by Molly Thom

PERFORMANCE DATES:  April 10 – 25, 2015

I Am Marguerite imageI Am Margueriteis a tale of survival, a true but little-known story from Canadian history. In 1542, 19-year old Marguerite de Roberval chose love over duty, and for her sin was abandoned by her brother on the desolate uninhabited Isle of Demons off the north coast of Newfoundland. In the first terrible winter, she lost her lover, nurse and infant son. Somehow or other she managed to survive, alone, another year and a half. By the time of her rescue – where the play begins – she is half-mad and reduced to a state of barbarism, her world peopled by the phantoms…

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PEOPLE PROFILE: Songwriter Dayna Shereck!

Meet Dayna Shereck!


When I first met Dayna a couple years ago, I was captivated by the way her smile draws you near and her eyes assure you of her attention. She has an open heart, a spicy sense of humour and a penchant for adventure that all inform her warm way with words and melody. Dayna has been gracing the streets of Nashville as one of the finest. She was a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition for 2012 and 2013 and put on the NSAI “Ones to watch” list. Isn’t she just a charm to watch? ;)

This is the lyric video to The Door, written by Dayna with Marcum Steward and vocalist Andrea Goodman. Enjoy!

dayna vid


Dayna answers…

What is your career?

I am songwriter, that I would say is my actual career. Though I also do some freelance writing, and some facilitating and I tend to gravitate towards anything driven by communication.

Greatest challenges and Rewards?

The greatest challenge in pursuing the road of a professional songwriter, is that there is no real road map on how to be successful, everyone gets there a different way. It’s not like you can graduate and then take your certificate to a publisher, it’s all abstract and magical, with lots of risk involved and not any guarantee. Though one of the greatest rewards for me, is the magic of writing a song, and knowing that anything is possible, that song could get cut this year and change someone’s life. There are so many things in life that just “are what they are”, but a great song, in the right hands, has the capacity to be so much more. In writing songs, I have found an outlet that helps me deal with day to day life, but most of all, the relationships that I have built with my various collaborators have been very special. They are all unique and wonderful in their own ways, and I have learned so much from them personally and professionally.

Advice to Others?

When I wrote my first song “Faultline”, I was so naive to the entire music business, that I operated, as if I had written the only song in the world, that everyone needed to hear. I remember running into a musician friend who said “no one makes money from music, do you know how many people are out there trying to make it” and I just closed my ears. Lets face it, there is a ton of competition. I was told recently that Nashville has between 60,000-80,000 songwriters in town at any given time, all pitching songs, writing, performing, those numbers are enough to send you right back on the plane home. So my advice would be focus on the personal belief you have in yourself, never stop believing in magic, because to get a song cut or placed, the stars definitely need to align. Enjoy the journey, the small successes along the road, and build genuine relationships with people, don’t be afraid to show who you are.

5 years ago did you expect to be where  you are today?

I never imagined 5 years ago that I would even be a songwriter. I had never played an instrument or even thought of writing a song. I was working for a not-for-profit organization, I was also trying to make a relationship work, which was causing me lots of emotional upheaval. I started hearing melodies in my head, and became very distracted by them. I had a good friend teach me a few chords on his guitar, and I must of written 10-12 songs almost immediately. Part of me believes the songs were almost gifted to me by a higher power because becoming a songwriter actually changed my life for the better at a time I needed it the most.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

A big question, but a good one. [Why, thank you, Dayna! ;p] I want to bring a song into the world that will be remembered, that someone at home will rely on when they want to feel better. I want to make music every day. I have a great group of songwriters that I collaborate with now, and I want to continue that process. In 5 years I would love to be in a position where I can write for tv and larger film projects as well, and have ongoing work all the time. I am also making my own small EPK to come out in 2015. I wouldn’t consider myself a performer but would like to work on getting more of my songs into film, and creating my own sound might help with that.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That I am a true romantic, I put a lot into my relationships and a high value on the people in my life. I’m an only child, and was raised by mother, who is a painter, and come from a family of creatives. I wish I could say I am a complete flower child but the truth is I worry about the future a lot, I guess what gets me through is knowing in my heart that this is the path I’m supposed to be on.

What makes you laugh?

Irony. There is nothing more comical than real life. Sometimes I laugh to myself, that a city girl from Toronto, ended up in Nashville, Tennessee. Life is full of twists and turns, and just when you think you know what’s going to happen, life can change.

What is your favourite quote?

“When words fail, music speaks” -Hans Christian Andersen


Want more Dayna? I know you do. Visit and get your fill!


Wishing everybuddy an inspired and musical day!
Love Kat :)

New Show Announced: Baby, It’s Warm Inside!

Sunday Dec 7th-Smiling Budda,
961 College St. Toronto 7pm $5

It’s only a few times a year I get to toast Santa’s Sack within season! Come see Arlene Paculan join me on this festive tune! :) xo




For one evening, 8 artists will be teaming up to kick off the Christmas season with cocktails & carols :) AND all for a great cause: NEDIC (The National Eating Disorder Information Centre)! So please come out and show your support!

Each artist will be putting their own personal style into your favorite Christmas songs and also playing some of their own original Christmas songs :)

Admission: $5 at the door (all goes to NEDIC)

So come out to ‘The Smiling Buddha Bar’ on Sunday, December 7th @ 7pm! It’s a great opportunity to:

#1. Enjoy some live music!
#2. Get into the Christmas spirit!
#3. Do something good for charity!

Hope to see you there!!! =)

The Willows
Georgian Bay
Arlene Paculan & Kat Leonard Music
Chris Rouse
Candice Sand
Brian Corbett
Julia Bentley
Jessica Speziale

Sure hope to see you there!

:) xo

Your life could be a write-off – Expert advice from a rock’n’roll accountant

Kat Leonard:

The art of taxes!

Originally posted on Songwriters Association of Canada:

Creative Commons licensed image by 401(K) 2012.

Creative Commons licensed image by 401(K) 2012.

By Jae Gold

In the songwriting business, “reasonable expectation of profit” can be significantly different from other businesses. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) admits that there’s often a longer ramp-up period before a songwriter starts making a profit. That’s why it’s important for artists to work with an accountant who knows the business.

An experienced entertainment accountant knows how to ensure that your losses are allowed by the CRA year after year until you make a profit, or until you stop trying. But let’s hope you keep trying! Jae Gold ( has worked with many of the songwriters you hear on radio, and graciously offers his expertise by answering questions posed by S.A.C. members.

What are the most common mistakes made by artists when filing taxes? Missing filing deadlines; under-reporting income; not claiming allowable expenses; claiming expenses that are too personal in nature to…

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Meet Candice Sand!

Ah…. Candice Sand… Professionally she is a remarkable Pop/R&B recording artist and songwriter described as a blend of Nastasha Bedingfield and Alicia Keys. Personally she is a bright light of strength and fun, and I find great inspired comfort in her friendship. Her newest single Go On featuring JRDN is currently dancing on the radio and TV airwaves and you should check it out!

candice jrd
Another one of my fave Candice Sand tunes is I Got This. I am in particular love with the lyric video because I feel like the text is interpretively dancing to the beat of the lyrics.
candice lyrics

Candice Answers:

What is your career?
I am a recording artist, singer, and songwriter.
What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career? 
I think what can be a challenge is the fact that a life as a musician is about endless growth and learning. What you can do with, and learn, in terms of music is so endless. I think that you really have to love music if you want to make a career out of it for that reason. You have to enjoy learning and expanding because really that is what you are doing most of the time. If you are focused on only a superficial end goal, I think that’s when this can be a challenge. You don’t enjoy the process and the art itself.
Greatest rewards? there are so many. Traveling, being on stage, connecting with new people, receiving messages from people all over the world that have heard your music and have connected with it. There are so many things that are rewards.
Advice to others embarking on similar career?
Do it for the “right reasons”. For the love of music and your own creative expression. Don’t change who you are to fit into a trend, be authentically you. Enjoy the process. I think those are the big three things for me.
In the past 5 years, what have been your greatest triumphs? Moments of joy?
Again, so many things. I’m really so blessed. Writing and recording my new album ‘Against Concrete Walls’. Having the opportunity to perform for the amazing producer David Foster, prime minster Harper, and the Mulroney family at the David Foster Miracle Gala. Being able to tour Canada. Having my music video “Go On” supported by MuchMusic and MuchFact. Being able to record with Choclair and JRDN. Sooooo many things. I sometimes think I must have a four leaf clover in my back pocket.
In the next 5 years, what will be your greatest triumphs? Where do you see yourself?
Well let’s see… I make goals and I plot road maps of what I’m planning to do, but I try to stay flexible. I like to call it “surrendering to the unknown”, meaning I’m open to following the path as it unfolds and see where it takes me. I’m going to be writing another album starting in 2015, I’ll keep promoting “Against Concrete Walls”, and keep working to be the best singer and songwriter I can be. I see myself still in the music industry writing and performing. I have ideas of what that will look like then, but I try to keep that to myself. It’s my own little secret I like to keep ;)
What does being an artist mean to you? 
It means expressing yourself, but to me it’s mostly an expression of life and emotion… experience. Connecting people to a feeling through music. Relating to each other. Helping people escape or give them whatever they need to feel. Freedom, love, loss, or appreciation. That’s what I’ve gotten from the artists/songwriters I’ve been influenced by and I only want to do the same for others.
What would you say to your 8-year-old self? 
I would tell her to enjoy her imagination. To let her mind play and dream.
What would you say to your 80-year-old self?
I would probably want to ask her questions! haha I think I have a good grounding of what is truly important in life, but I would be interested to get advice from her. What pearls of wisdom would she be able to share with me that might ease my mind or help me move through life.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’m completely sentimental. I love reflecting. Counting my blessings. I appreciate the people around me so much that if I think about it long enough, I’ll likely get a little misty eyed.
What is your favourite quote?
“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain
Candice takes plenty of inspiration from other artists, including Emily Sande.
Candice has said: This song took on a new meaning for me when I read the description she wrote on the youtube video: Emily Sande: Clown
candice emily
For more Candice Sand, please try to catch her live and visit her online…
Candice Sand Music
BUY the debut EP Candice Sand: #AgainstConcreteWalls now on iTunes! 
Thank you for your attention, everybuddy!
Wishing you a most glorious of daze!
:) xo love Kat



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