Karrin Allyson was born on July 27th, 1963, in Great Bend, Kansas, yet lived much of her early life in Omaha, Nebraska. Throughout her life, she has experimented with a multitude of musical genres. She studied classical piano at a young age and was also a member of an all-female rock band called Tomboy during her time in college. Jazz piano and vocals were her true calling, and after graduation from college, Karrin moved out to Kansas City to begin her professional career. She performed at her Uncle’s club The Phoenix and from there, was signed on to Concord Records in 1992 for her first album. This album featured Karrin on vocals/piano, accompanied by pianist Paul Smith, guitarists Danny Embrey and Rod Fleeman, bassist Bob Bowman, and drummer Todd Strait, whom have all played on the majority of her recordings.
In addition, she has released 11 successful albums through Concord Records, with a wide variety of styles, ranging from smooth and soulful Ballads, traditional Blues, and upbeat Bebop Jazz. Especially noteworthy are songs from her 1996 album, Collage, where she will occasionally showcase her “scat” abilities. Four of her albums, Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane (2001), Footprints (2006), Imagina: Songs of Brazil (2008), and ‘Round Midnight (2011) have received Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
One of the amazing things about Karrin Allyson’s musical repertoire is her ability to sing in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. Her 2008 album Imagina: Songs of Brazil, incorporated a heavy dose of Portuguese language throughout, including So Tinha De Ser Com Voce (It Had to Be With You). Asked about this in an interview before the release of the album, she said,
“I get tutoring in the languages; I don’t take it lightly or simply sing it syllabically. I want to know as much of the meaning as I can and get the accent down as close as I can. It’s hard but I love languages so it’s a labor of love. Also getting the grooves down – I think what really captures us first with Brazilian music are those wonderful Samba, Bossa, folk grooves.” – In Conversation with Karrin Allyson by Marissa Dodge
Karrin Allyson is considered one of the top Jazz vocalists/pianists in the industry today, due in large part to her incredible voice, but also due to the dedication to her music. When describing the mood of her latest album ‘Round Midnight (2011), she says, “There’s a woman at the piano, singing these intimate ballads – one after the other. Maybe you’ve just recently suffered a heartache, or maybe the lyrics, melodies, and harmonies evoke feelings you have somewhere deep down inside…Each one of these songs holds great meaning for me – as I hope they do or will for you.”
In April, Karrin will be touring all over the country, including concerts in New York, Philadelphia, California, and Washington, DC, before performing in Worcester, MA on May 3 at Tuckerman Hall. Her music will be featured throughout the month of April here at WICN, leading up to her May 3 concert. Discounted tickets for this concert can be purchased by calling the station at (508) 752-0700 or online at http://www.wicn.org/ticket-order-form. Enjoy the music!