The greatest jazz singer you’ve never heard of
There are many measures of success. Being woken on a Sunday morning to a feast of scrambled eggs and fruit smoothies prepared by your twelve-year-old daughter has to be one of motherhood’s first prizes, especially when it’s not your birthday or Mother’s Day.
At the same age, her older sister was one of London’s leading fashion bloggers, she’s now an art student at Camberwell. And Karen’s twenty-one-year old, street dancing, violinist daughter has already performed with FKA Twigs and heads Nihilism one of London’s coolest new wave jazz bands.
In days of old, this would be the time in Karen’s life when she would be expected to sit back and live vicariously through the success of her daughters.
But she knows the reason for their drive has always been her drive.
“It’s easy to get a child to practise an instrument when mum practises too. And it’s easy to keep them learning when you never stop.”
In the last year, not only has Karen recorded her seventh studio album, but she also taught herself Portugese so she could record some of her favourite tracks in their original tongue.
She toured Europe playing venues such as Ronnie Scotts and The Royal Albert Hall. All while holding down her day job as a speech therapist and weekend job as a singing coach.
Oh, and she also went through an amicable divorce.
It would be all too easy to sneer at Karen for being such an over-achiever, she never misses a run, or yoga or the gym, there’s always a delicious meal on the table, and she still practises her music every day. But it doesn’t come naturally, and sometimes it takes its toll, but jazz is a hard task master and she is more than ready to go the extra mile.
“Jazz never stands still and jazz never ends, there’s always something to fascinate you, to draw you in, to move you forward.”
In her youth she dreamt of stardom. Now she chases mastery. She wishes she didn’t have to work so hard. But older women are undervalued in the jazz world and making her living from her music is still a distant dream.
One that Karen will never stop running towards.