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Karen Lyu

Karen Lyu is a unique and animated jazz singer/songwriter who loves to give playful, powerful and unforgettable performances. She swings, scats and soulfully savors heartfelt, brave and quirky songs about life, love, and things that matter. Her music is touched by jazz, folk, pop, funk, Motown, 80's, Broadway, classical, Latin, world music, and Korean songs. Her vocal inspirations include Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Siegel (The Manhattan Transfer), Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eva Cassidy, Youn Sun Nah, Robert Robinson and Bobby McFerrin. People are usually surprised by Karen's powerful voice and stage persona!

Born in Seoul, Korea, Karen grew up with her struggling immigrant family in the US (CA, TX, and MN), got a Jazz Studies degree at Cornell College in IA, sang throughout the Midwest, and beyond, and now sings in South Korea. She's sung with 12 groups, including the Karen Lyu Jazz Experience, Karen Lyu Quartet, Yoo and Karen Duo, Karen Lyu & Fresh Jazz, Karen Lyu & Global Jazz, Pacha Mamas, Via Brasil, Jazz Transit, and Eddie Piccard Trio since 1993 and also with Soli Hughes (Sounds of Blackness), Devon Evans (Bob Marley), and Bruce Henry (Natalie Cole).

Karen’s singing has been featured on National Public Radio, Democracy Now, film, TV, radio, cable and all kinds of stages. She's also traveled and performed in the US, Korea, Europe, Central America, Southeast Asia, and Brazil. She has won a 2010 MusiCares/Grammy Foundation Emergency Grant, a 2010 NashvilleMuse Songwriter award, a 2007 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and more.

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”(The Karen Lyu & Fresh Jazz CD) goes anywhere from making you want to dance to helping you relax.... If you like jazz, this album is for you. It's an amazing jazz album.” -Krys Spain Midgett, Editor - Strum Magazine

“...a fresh blend of soulfully savored versions of jazz standards, international songs and more, all with Lyu’s trademark groove, swing, scat and improvised explorations.” -Tom LaVenture, Editor - Asian American Press

“Karen (Lyu), you are now my favorite singer since Nina Simone! And ooowweee, your band is hot!” -Devon Evans, Percussionist - Bob Marley and the Wailers

“Karen Lyu's charismatic and elastic vocals enchant.” -Tom Surowicz, Music Writer - Star Tribune newspaper/KBEM radio

“Lyu's voice is gritty Sarah Vaughn.” -Lydia Howell, Music Writer - Pulse of the Twin Cities

“(Karen Lyu) can be-bop, scat and growl with the best of them; sing wonderful, lyrical jazz favorites...and also throw in an occasional opera number just to keep things interesting.” (review for Karen Lyu & Global Jazz) -Martha Vickery, Editor - Korean Quarterly Newspaper

Primary Instrument

Voice / vocals



Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


Experience helping to improve the voices of over 500 students since 1999 (up to 36 students/week) - absolute beginners to untrained professionals. Singing, Speaking, Vocal Health, Music Styles. Nashville, TN, Old Hickory, TN, St. Cloud, MN, St. Paul, MN and Minneapolis, MN. Taught voice lessons, classes and/or workshops at West Bank School of Music, East Metro Academy, Dreamland Arts, Walker Community Church, Earth Mother Mind Jam, Masterpiece Academy, Unity Church for Positive Living. Other teaching experience includes freelance tutoring for special needs kids (current), music director (5 Mpls

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Dianne Reeves
voice / vocals
Janis Siegel
voice / vocals
Dee Dee Bridgewater
voice / vocals
Holly Cole
voice / vocals
Ella Fitzgerald
voice / vocals
Bobby McFerrin
voice / vocals
Carmen McRae
voice / vocals
Sarah Vaughan
voice / vocals
Eva Cassidy
voice / vocals


Karen Lyu Jazz...

JazzMine Records


Karen Lyu

Self Produced


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