Growing up in a large family, raised on family singalongs & playing a home-made guitar, Karen’s love of music has always been an integral part of her life. Her understanding that dreams come true only with hard work, dedication & determination, has led her to a successful and rewarding professional career.
Karen’s music comes directly from the heart, speaking about love, Australia and its people. There is a special quality in Karen’s voice and this, combined with a mixture of great songs is her secret to success. She works as a soloist, in a Duo with Pat Drummond, in various Bluegrass Band formats & is a proud Independent artist, flying the independent banner for over 20 years.
2013 celebrates the release of her tenth album, a Bluegrass gospel album ‘Shine your Light’, recorded in the USA with Jerry Salley producing using a cast of some of the best bluegrass players in the business. They include Josh Williams, Randy Kohrs, Mike Bub, Aaron McDaris and Tim Crouch. They album also features Stella Parton & Daryl Mosley on tracks and was recorded in the studios of Tom T. & Miss Dixie Hall, Nashville.
2011 gave rise to her ninth studio album and a return to old fashioned ‘Classic’ Country, a style that seems to have become a little lost in the Industry’s current wave of younger contemporary artists. Called Heart Songs & Laugh Lines, it is a collection of more known country songs and includes a stunning rendition of the classic Louvin Bros. cut ‘Every Time You Leave’, recorded as a duet with Nashville based Resonator Guitarist & singer Randy Kohrs. Sept 2009 heralded her first National release thru ABC Music under their new ‘Heartland’ Label. The album was a re-release of her ‘Changes’ CD (with two new tracks) under the title “Wishing Well” & is distributed nationally by Universal Music.
2008 brought forth her seventh album “Long Journey Home”, her second collaboration with singer/songwriter Pat Drummond, a totally acoustic country/folk style album full of wonderful Australian storytelling songs which fit perfectly into their duo show. Not surprisingly, this album gained a Top 5 Finalist Nomination for “Vocal Collaboration” in the 2009 ‘TIARA’ Awards; a TSA (Songwriting) Top 5 Finalist Award for Pat for “Gospel Song of the Year”; a Top 5 Finalist Nomination in the Duet Section & a Top 10 Finalist Nomination in the “Trailblazers Heritage” Section of the Vic & National CM Awards. This followed the release of her sixth album in 2007, a compilation album of many of her Singles released to Country Music Radio over the years, called simply “The Singles” which not only contained 15 previously released songs but her video clip as well, It’s a lovely selection of country, folk & bluegrass and certainly a celebration of a twenty year career in country music. Songs from it gained her Top 10 Finalist Nominations in both the “Best Independent Release” & “Bluegrass & Traditional Country” Categories of the Vic & National CM Awards. Her lengthy career success was also honoured soon after with Karen being announced as one of the 2008 inductees to the Country Music “Hands Of Fame”. Being such an Inductee is one of the greatest honours for an Australian Country & Bluegrass performer. Previous to this her stunning album “Changes” (released, January 2006), a contemporary Bluegrass & Acoustic album was released to rave reviews, it was produced by Rod McCormack and Herm Kovac – two of the industry’s best producers and features the A team of Australian Bluegrass Musicians. The first three singles from the album have reached the top 5 on the Australian CM Chart – a singular achievement for bluegrass songs in Australia.
In 2006, Karen was selected as a Grandfinalist in Sydney’s “Golden Saddle Awards” and in January 2007 she won a ‘TIARA’ Award for Songwriting – for the song “Blue Mountain Rain” (Co-written with Richard Porteous). She was also named a Grandfinalist in the 2006 Australian Independent Country Music Awards – in both the ‘Album of the Year’ & ‘Female Vocalist’ categories and a Top 10 finalist in the Bluegrass & Traditional Country Category – Vic & National CM Awards . She won the “Female Vocalist” category in the 2006 WARP Gold Medallion Awards (voted by Radio Presenters) and in March 2007, the very prestigious ‘Frank Ifield International Spur Award’. This award included an international single release and within just days of it’s release the track had entered the UK & European Country Chart at No.3 and was No.1 on the corressponding Independent Top 10. Within two weeks the single rose and gave Karen her first international Chart No.1 on the main chart along side a corressponding Number 1 on the independent chart.
Her previous album “Second Wind” was a beautiful Country album and has so far achieved 2 Major Award wins, 11 Major Award Nominations, two charting & three “Top 10” chart hits. Her first Video clip showcases the title track and was released late in 2005. As a soloist, Karen performs Country, Bluegrass and Australian Folk music accompanying herself on the twelve-string guitar or with backing (where applicable). Her versatility extends to various duo formats & she also works extensively in a Bluegrass band format – one particular collaboration resulting in a fine Bluegrass album with Sydney Band ‘Acoustic Shock’ called “Blue Mountain Rain” which collectively has now received 9 major Award Nominations and has also won the Award for ‘Best Independent Release’ in the 2003 Victorian & National Country Music Awards. In July 2005, along with Acoustic Shock Bluegrass Band, she completed a very successful tour across Europe & UK where they performed in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, England, Wales and Norway where they supported Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.
In Feb 2004 she took out Top Honours winning the ‘Bluegrass & Traditional Country’ category in the VIC & National CM Awards and she also picked up the Award for Top Female Vocalist in the 2003 Australian Independent Country Music Awards. She also received 2 other Finalist Nominations in the ‘Single Of the Year’ & ‘Heritage Track of the Year’ categories respectively. She has previously achieved Grand Finalist Nominations in the ‘Album of the Year’ Category (1999), ‘Female Rising Star’ Category (1999 & 2000) and the ‘Female Vocalist’ category (2002). Over her career she has now notched up over 10 Chart Hits. Karen’s other achievements include a Top 5 Finalist in the ‘New Talent’ category and Top 10 Nominations in the ‘Female Vocal’, ‘Vocal Collaboration’ (with Pat Drummond) & ‘APRA Song of the Year’ categories in the 1999, 2001 & 2003 Australian Country Music ‘Golden Guitar’ Awards. She has also received Award Nominations in the ‘Female Vocal’ (2003 & 2004), Collaboration (2004), Bluegrass & Traditional Country (2004) & ‘Best Independent Release’ categories (2003 & 2004) in the Victorian & National Country Music Awards. In the 2003 ‘TIARA’ (Independent Recording) Awards she received finalist Nominations in the ‘Female Vocal’, ‘Collaboration’ & ‘Bush Ballad’ categories and previously, finalist Nominations in the ‘Stan Coster Heritage’ Category (1999), ‘Collaboration’ (2000), ‘Songwriting’(2000), ‘Heritage’(2000) & ‘Female Vocal’(2000) Categories.
Karen spent time songwriting in Nashville, USA both prior & since the release of her debut CD, “Labour of Love” (a blend of traditional & contemporary Country, Australian Folk and Bluegrass styles), which featured 3 of Karen’s original compositions, a hauntingly beautiful version of Henry Lawson’s poem ‘Water Lilly’ and an exceptional version of Enda Kenny’s ‘Colours of Australia’. Following this, Karen collaborated with noted Australian Singer/Songwriter, Pat Drummond and from this partnership came a highly acclaimed Duet Album “Six days in December”, released in 2000. Tracks from this album are all Australian penned and have notched up an impressive record with wins in three categories of the QLD National Songwriting Competition – ‘General Country’, ‘Best Contemporary Song’ and ‘Overall Best Contemporary Song’. 10 of the 11 songs have been penned by Pat and/or Karen & in January 2000 it also reached the Grand Finals of the TSA Australian National Country Songwriting Competition where it took out the Award for ‘Contemporary Country Song of the year’ in the 2001 Songwriter Salute Awards.
So impressed with her talent, a noted UK Promoter invited her to tour the UK for a number of weeks in October/November 1999 which she did to rave reviews & has re-visited just as successfully in 2002 and again in 2005. This followed her success in July 1999 when she was the first Australian to enter the Top 10 of the Nashville ‘International Country Music Association’ – Non-Major Label Chart (at the same time she also made it to No. 28 in the mixed Major/ Non Major label chart). Karen has again spent time songwriting in Nashville, USA writing with some known Nashville writers – including Mark Selby (‘There’s Your Trouble’ – as performed by the Dixie Chicks). She completed another successful UK tour in late 2002 – organised to promote her second solo release “Second Wind” and again in 2005.
Karen has also been a Grand finalist in the prestigious Australian Country Music ‘Starmaker’ Quest, and has won the ‘TSA National Songwriting Competition’ with the song ‘Grandma Used to Say’ (co-written with Heather Field and James Gillard). Other songwriting credits include 3rd placing in the Tasmanian TSA Songwriting Competition for a co-write ‘Country Home’, Finalist positions in the ‘Spectacular Progress’ and ‘Most Popular Female’ Categories in the Spirit of Tamworth, Independent Artists Country Music Awards and a number of Capital Country Music Association (CCMA) Awards for performance including twice ‘Female Vocalist’, twice ‘Best Performance of an Australian Composition’, and ‘Best Band’ (with her former band Shades of Grey).
Karen’s recordings have been featured on a number of high profile Country Compilations including ‘Half the Moon’ – EMI ‘Winners 7’ compilation (featuring Australian Country Music Awards winners & finalists); ‘Song of the Quilt’ – Illawarra Folk Festival Compilation; ‘Colours of Australia’ – National Folk Festival compilation; ‘Grandma Used To Say’ – ABC ‘Open Road Two – Unexplored Country’ compilation; ‘The Outback’s been Getting the Rain’ – EMI ‘Send it Down Huey’ Compilation (proceeds going towards national Drought Relief) & ‘The Circle is Small’ – ABC Coodabeen Champions “Nightingales” compilation. Most recently, their duet track “Dreams” has been included on ‘John Nutting’s Saturday Night Country 15th Anniversary Edition’ CD released by the ABC in 2009.