In the heart of Rochester’s music scene, Katy Eberts stands as a testament to resilience and strength. As the keyboardist, and vocalist of the Fleetwood Mac tribute band Seven Wonders, and Teagan and The Tweeds, she has not only graced the local stages with her musical talent, but has become an inspiring figure through an unforeseen chapter in her life. Last year, Katy faced a life-altering car crash that left her severely injured, challenging her in ways she never imagined. In our exclusive cover story interview with Rochester Woman Online, Katy opens up about her remarkable journey since the accident—a story of courage, determination, and triumph over adversity

Beyond the melodies of Seven Wonders, Katy shares her experiences of overcoming the odds and reclaiming the ability to walk. Her conversation with RWO delves into the depths of her passion for music, the influences that shape her artistry, and the profound significance of being #katystrong. Join us as we unravel the layers of Katy Eberts’ life, from the stage to the personal milestones that define her indomitable spirit, with her huband, family and friends cheering her on.

Could you share a bit about yourself, your upbringing, and your family background?
I grew up just outside of Canandaigua, the daughter of a business owner and a “Mr. Fix It”. My little sister, who is eight years younger than me, took after our father’s artistic talents and I took after our mother’s baking skills. My father had an eclectic taste in music and a vast collection of records. He really contributed largely to my love of music. My feisty, artsy little sister taught me how to be a role model. She was spunky and outspoken, stubborn and strong and I idolized her for all those qualities. My mother owned a very successful bakery and restaurant where I eventually learned how to cook and bake alongside her. When the bakery first opened, she paid me $5.00 an hour to wait on tables. At age 13, I had more work experience and better people skills than most of my classmates. And I had enough money to buy my own hacky sacks and hippie dresses. My mother truly was my best friend so when she passed unexpectedly at age 49, that was the first time my world got turned upside down.

My family was supportive of my interest in music and encouraged me to make sure I put in all my required practice time. My mother would be in the kitchen doing the dishes from dinner and I’d hear her call out to me “Great job, Kate! Play them all again.” I was elated to think she actually wanted to hear them all again. Now what most people don’t know is that my first instrument was actually the clarinet. I had been begging for a piano but my parents weren’t convinced I was going to be committed to learning it. They weren’t about to sacrifice space in our dining room for a large, expensive piano so they forced me to join the band at school to prove to them I was truly interested. I reluctantly took up the clarinet and to my surprise, I really enjoyed playing it. My parents finally caved and found me a free, spinet style piano. Its keys were chipped and yellow and wildly out of tune. It was love at first sight.

When did your passion for singing begin, and when did you realize you had a special gift for it?
Well, I always enjoyed singing but my passion was really as an instrumentalist. I prided myself in my ability to pick up a new instrument quickly and adequately. I was never as confident in my vocal abilities. I think the first time I felt like maybe I could sing a little bit was in fifth grade. There was a chorus for any and all students and then there was a smaller group called “Select Chorus”. You had to audition to be in the “Select Chorus” and only about 20 kids were selected. I was thrilled to not only be selected but to also be chosen to sing a solo line in the Elton John favorite, “Crocodile Rock”. I definitely didn’t think I had a “special gift” at that time but I at least thought that was proof enough that I could carry a tune. I didn’t discover a real passion for singing until my senior year in high school. I was writing a lot of poetry and decided I’d like to put it to song. I bought my very first acoustic guitar and started practicing during my study halls and after school. My classmates would sort of congregate around me to listen and I realized then that people actually liked the sound of my singing voice. That’s when I decided I wanted to start singing more often.

How did the concept of the band “Seven Wonders” originate?
It was really just meant to be a one-off for a residency night at Three Heads Brewing back in February, 2018. The band was put together to play the Rumours album front to back. Some of us knew each other and some of us didn’t. We had a few short weeks to pull it off and only one or two full band rehearsals. To our surprise, the evening sold out. It ended up being one of those magical performances that’s hard to put into words. Everyone in the room got all the feels and goosebumps and the energy was tangible in the air. To this day, that performance is one of the top five performances I’ve ever done. There was no reason not to let the magic continue so we decided to make it official and become a cohesive group.

Could you tell us about your relationship with Teagan Ward and how you two met?
It’s unbelievable to think that Teagan and I go back 18 years now. We were so young and new to the Rochester music scene. I had just moved to the city and Teagan was barely out of high school. I had this cool apartment above the newest coffee shop, Boulder Coffee. I was managing the coffee shop and running an open mic there on Wednesday nights. I had to get people to come to my open mic so I started scouting fellow singer/songwriters and I came across Teagan at another open mic. She had one of the most unique voices I had ever heard. I introduced myself to her and invited her to my open mic and the rest is history.

Can you share with our audience a little about the accident you were involved in and what your diagnosis was?
The accident was a very serious rollover motor vehicle accident that involved five of the seven “Wonders.” We were travelling along I-90, on our way to a gig in Syracuse when our van and trailer went off the road, hitting a tree and winding up hovering over an embankment. Once I realized something terrible was happening, I shut my eyes and my body went into protective mode. I don’t recall the accident itself at all. I don’t recall the rolling over or the tree or the embankment and I am grateful for that. I do recall coming to at one point and feeling the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt. This was the second time my world got turned upside down.

I’m going to tell you something deeply personal. At that point when I felt that pain, I thought I was going to die. In my mind, I had no idea what had happened, but I knew it must’ve been bad if I was in that much pain. I closed my eyes and accepted my fate. I felt sad that I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to say goodbye to my husband. I allowed my body to go limp and I thought to myself, “At least I will be able to be with my mother now.” In that moment, I felt no pain anymore. Then suddenly, the most miraculous, unbelievable thing happened…my mother came to me. She was beautiful and healthy and smiling down at me. She said: “No Kate, it’s not your time yet. It’s not your time.” And as fast as she appeared, she was gone. Like a light switch, I came to once again and felt that excruciating pain. Only this time, I heard voices. Help. Help was coming and I knew it wasn’t quite my time. Again, I let my body go limp but with the hope I was going to be saved.

Reflecting on the past six months since your accident, could you share some of the hardest moments and struggles you’ve faced during this time?
There have been countless moments where things have gotten difficult or even dark. To wake up and not feel the lower half of your body is absolutely terrifying but the hardest moment was being told it was unlikely I’d ever move the lower half of my body again. I couldn’t comprehend those words. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to tell the rest of my family. That was the worst day of my life. Then there are all the moments of despair that follow. The ones where I’d think about all the things I used to be able to do that I will never be able to do again. The loss of control and independence. The moments where just the sight of a stranger walking past would make me burst into tears. How unfair it felt that I would never be able to use my legs that way again. All these moments were much harder to cope with than the physical pain I was working through. Ultimately, I think the defiance and unwillingness to accept this new normal, led me to where I am today.

What have been the most memorable moments for you during this journey of recovery?
Whenever my body does something I had no idea it could do. For example, the first time I stood on the parallel bars. When I conquer a fear like getting into the harness over the treadmill or learning how to transfer into the car.  Those are the moments that energize me to keep working hard.  The moment I took my first upright steps almost made me too emotional to keep standing.

The “Concert for Katy” event in September was another monumental moment for me.  It was my first full day home after nine weeks in the hospital and there I was, venturing out into public for the first time and taking to the stage as well.  The moment I was wheeled up onto that stage and I could see the amount of people who were there in support of my journey was a moment I will never forget.
How has the support from your husband, family, and friends influenced and aided in your recovery process?
Listen, my husband Brian is the real rock star here.  I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in life and now he has become my caregiver.  He and I have navigated this entire journey together and I would be lost without him.  He has spent every day since the accident, by my side, helping me get back on my feet again.  He is truly special.
I’ve always thought I had a great circle of family and friends, but this accident has shown me my circle is much bigger than I ever realized.  My support group is big and strong and my people have been there for both Brian and I to lean on.  And trust me, we have leaned in hard sometimes.  They have proven to be unbreakable.  I feel unbelievably lucky to have the support that I have and I am so very appreciative.  I know for certain I would be in a very different place without them all.
Who are some individuals that inspire you, and why do they inspire you?
This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many but the one that really stands out is my mother.  Although she is no longer with us, her spirit continues to inspire me daily.  She had the most outstanding work ethic I have ever seen and she was not one to give up.  She was tougher than tough and when she wanted something, she went for it.  I’d like to think I inherited some of those traits.
Do you have a favorite music artist? If so, what draws you to their music?
My current favorites can change depending on what I’m listening to at the time.  Sometimes I’ll be introduced to a new artist that I love and they’ll be my favorite for a little while.  I love finding new artists to listen to and pull inspiration from but I have my old standbys as well.  One of my all-time favorites is ELO.  Jeff Lynne knows how to write a hook and I’m a sucker for a good hook!  “Mr. Blue Sky” makes me smile every time I hear it.  Then there are singer/songwriters like Patty Griffin who just know how to tell a story so beautifully.  Having a favorite is hard since so many artists have played a role across the timeline of my life.
What significant lesson have you taken away from your journey since the accident?
Put out what you want to get back.  Be the positive change you want to see.  Smile…it’s your face’s way of helping you and everyone around you feel better.  Book the expensive trip to the islands.  Eat the cake.  Do all the things and don’t put them off.  And most importantly, love hard and stand by your people.
Chronicling your journey and keeping everyone involved is commendable. What motivated you to share your journey openly with others?
I realized very quickly that documenting my journey was something I wanted to do. My husband and I talked about it and both agreed that it was an important thing to do. Mainly for two reasons. One being that I wanted to be able to keep looking back as a means of measuring my progress. The second being I wanted to open the doors for others to be inspired and motivated to help themselves and others. I wanted people to see that despite being dealt a crushing blow, you can still find ways to be happy and kind. And you can overcome anything if you just want it bad enough.What are your plans for your singing career in the future?
I hope to get back to performing at some point but it will come when my mind and body are both ready. When the accident first happened, all I could think about was how soon I could get back on stage. Then I quickly realized I needed to narrow my focus and prioritize my health. I wasn’t getting back on stage if I couldn’t lift my arms. I learned it’s okay to have big goals for the future but that being in the present is much more important.

What have you discovered about yourself through these challenging times that you might not have realized before?
I had no idea I could be so vulnerable. I’ve realized that being vulnerable opens the doors to becoming stronger. I’ve had to let myself fail to prove to myself I can come out stronger on the other side.

How do you manage to stay motivated and positive during tough moments in your recovery?
The support of the community has played a huge part in this. They have been rooting for me the whole way. I sometimes go back and read through the cards and messages I’ve been sent and feel re-energized. I have also been blessed with some of the most capable therapists and dedicated hospital staff. I have an entire crew of people invested in my recovery. When things get tough, they are there to push me and make me prove to myself that I can do anything if I just put the work in. I have been lucky enough to have gained some lifelong friendships from my stay in the hospital. These people have seen me at my worst and yet, always have faith in my ability to get back up and do better the next time.

What advice would you give to others going through a similar recovery process?
Never give up. You can change the statistics. Be the one that throws a wrench in it all. And most importantly, know the power of a positive mind. A positive mind makes you unstoppable.

Could you share a pivotal moment that shifted your perspective during your recovery journey?
The moment I wiggled my toes for the first time. Before that day, I had laid in a hospital bed for over six weeks without any movement in my lower extremities at all. My legs and feet just felt like stone, like I was carrying around two pillars of poured cement. I tried to keep a smile on my face but I was broken. It was both a mental and a physical struggle with my legs every day. When I realized I could voluntarily wiggle some of my toes and then also push my legs in a downward motion, everything shifted in my mind. I finally started to believe that maybe I was going to begin breaking barriers. I spent the whole day wiggling my toes and moving my legs for fear of losing the ability. I jokingly asked anyone who came into my room: “Do you want to see my new trick?” And then I would show them what I could do. It was the hope I had needed for so long.

Have there been any surprising or unexpected sources of support during your recovery?
The fact that I have an entire community behind me has been surprising and completely unexpected. I would not be where I am now if it weren’t for the support of this community and specifically, the Rochester music scene. I have never been prouder to be a Rochestarian. I’ll admit, at times it was all too overwhelming. I would just break down in tears of disbelief and wonder why I deserved so much love. Love from friends, family, strangers from all over the country. It’s not something that’s easy to put into words.

And then there was this shocking surprise from the one and only, Gloria Estefan. She too suffered a severe spinal cord injury on her way to a gig in the Syracuse area. The similarities of our accidents were uncanny. Unbeknownst to me, a friend of a friend had reached out to her to see if she might be interested in the story. Then all of a sudden, a very generous donation in her name appeared on the GoFundMe page. A few days later, on the morning of the “Concert for Katy” event, I received a phone call from her. We have remained in contact ever since.

How do you balance your personal life and career aspirations amidst your recovery process?
To be honest, my main focus has been on healing. I realized very quickly that pretty much everything else was going to have to be on hold for a while. I’m still very much dependent on Brian but every day I work on regaining my independence. I have been trying to get out a little more because that does seem to bring a little normalcy back to daily life. I enjoy getting to see people I haven’t seen and I especially love meeting people who have been following the story and supporting me in my journey. I love when people approach me in public because it gives me the opportunity to thank them in person. Personal life balance has been a little tricky but when I need to pull back and take a breather, I allow myself to do just that.

Are there specific routines or habits that have helped you cope with the challenges post-accident?
Being in therapy has been the best routine for me. It gives me a reason to get out of bed and ready for each day. That includes physical therapy, occupational therapy and mental health therapy. Each have played an important role in my healing process and all are equally important. I’ve also gotten into the habit of reading a lot more, specifically in the mornings. I have always loved reading but I would usually do it at nighttime once I’ve gone to bed. The problem with that is I’m out in five minutes and it takes me a year to read a book! I try to devote at least 20 minutes of reading time every morning. I find it peaceful and a great way to take my mind off of any pain or stressors.

Looking ahead, what aspirations or goals do you have for yourself outside of your music career?
I want to write a book. I have always joked about one day writing a book, stating that even people who aren’t celebrities have interesting lives. I believe now more than ever, I was meant to write that book. I also want to advocate for others who are wheelchair bound in making public spaces more accessible. Going out in public should not feel so intimidating. There is always the worry that the bathrooms won’t be appropriately outfitted or that there might be stairs at the entry site. Or maybe there is just not enough room for one to wheel around comfortably without having to ask someone to push in their chair or move their table entirely. I want to promote change and raise awareness and I want my reach to expand as far and wide as possible.