Cathy Song was born to a Chinese-American mother and a Korean-American father. Song herself resists classification as an "Asian American" or "Hawaiian" writer, calling herself "a poet who happens to be Asian American".
Cathy Song was born on August 20, 1955 in Wahiawa, Hawaii, United States. She is the second of three children born to Ella Song, a Chinese-American seamstress and Andrew Song, a Korean-American airline pilot.
As Song’s father was a pilot, the family travelled extensively during her youth. In 1962, when she was 7 years old, the family relocated to Honolulu.