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.
Karen currently performs with 3 dynamic jazz groups based in Seoul, South Korea: Karen Lyu Jazz Experience (jazz/Latin/funk/crossover), Karen Lyu Quartet (swing), and the Yoo and Karen Jazz Duo (jazz/pop/funk/ballads).
2016-present #1 Jazz Artist in South Korea - Reverbnation.com
2010 MusiCares/Grammy Foundation emergency grant
2010 NashvilleMuse.com Songwriter of the Week
2007 Minnesota State Arts Board grant with vocalist/performer, Maryam Yusefzadeh
2007 West Bank School of Music Recognition Award for my work as Executive Director
2007 3rd Prize Nye's Polonaise Polish Idol Competition
2007 1st Prize Jitters Karaoke Contest
2006 Nomination for Best Arts Article for the National Ethnic Media Awards
2004 Samsung sponsorship for an Austin Asian-American Chamber of Commerce Gala performance
2003 KFAI-FM Top 5 Most Played CDs of the Week: Karen Lyu & Global Jazz Live! CD
1995 Dayton's Department Store Artists Grant
"(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
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