Kay Gardner performed her first composition at the age of four. She studied music throughout her childhood and continued her studies at the University of Michigan. Kay finished her bachelor's degree and received a Master of Music (Performance) from SUNY Stonybrook in 1972. In the early 1970s, Kay decided to combine all of her talents toward the goal of promoting and making women's music.
In 1972, with Alix Dobkin, she was a founding member of the feminist and openly lesbian women's band, Lavender Jane. Later in the 1970s, Kay pursued her dream of becoming a symphony conductor by founding and recording works of women composers with the New England Women's Symphony. By the early 1980s, Kay's musical focus had shifted to studying the effects of music on the human body and the healing potential of music.
Among the results of this study were A Rainbow Path, a series of musical compositions centered on each body chakra that explored the utilization of music in conjunction with the healing arts, and a textbook, Sounding the Inner Landscape, a collection of resources indicating a direction for musicians wishing to develop their music along a spiritual path.
She had a vast catalogue of works, including musical compositions, recordings, publications, and video tapes and received numerous awards, grants and prizes throughout her life including the Maryanne Hartmann Award , and an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Maine.
She met the Bangor Unitarian Universalist women's community in 1993 and was inspired along with Colleen Fitzgerald (who became her life-long lover) and Pamela Gross to begin a women's sacred singing circle, Women With Wings, that has met weekly for nine years.
Kay was ordained as a priestess by the Fellowship of Isis in Clonegal, Ireland in 1998 by Lady Olivia Robertson. She came back to Bangor and founded the Temple of the Feminine Divine and Iseum Musicum, a three-year ordination program.
At the time of her death, Kay served as the music director at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bangor and had just produced Women With Wings' first CD, Hand in Hand and Heart to Heart. Kay Gardner was a visionary who saw herself planting the seeds of reconciliation and healing with her gift of music.