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News & Perspective

Member Spotlight: Karen Maynard

Karen educated NYC Public School Kids in Vocal Music and is now retired into her long awaited career as a solo singer.

Karen Maynard was born in Queens, New York home to Jazz legends, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. As a child, she skipped through the house singing. She couldn’t wait until she was old enough to join the church choir and she has been a member ever since. Her favorite activities in kindergarten were song time, were she was always the first child to jump up out of her seat and push in her chair ready to sing. Finger painting was also one of Karen’s favorite activities in kindergarten which evolved into her love of piano, but not before learning to play the clarinet in third grade. It was here in elementary school where Karen was bit by the jazz love bug, hearing a fellow class, render a foot tapping, swinging rendition of the standard Blue Skies. In church, in addition to singing, she began to act in various religious, holiday performances. At home, Karen was exposed to gospel, opera, R&B, and comedy.

Her love of music and singing continued through junior high and high school. In junior high, she continued to sing in the school chorus, her church choir and joined Queens Borough Wide Chorus. Her acting also continued as she starred in the school’s production of the musical Cinderella, as one of the stepsisters. She attend Hillcrest High School with award winning actors Fran Drescher, Ray Romano and saxophonist Reggie Woods. Here she deepened her musical training in the music careers program. Karen was was awarded for her outstanding participation in the chorus. Again back at home her older sister introduced her to Latin Jazz.

Karen was the voice on her college radio station, WFSK, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee which broadcasted throughout the metropolitan area, as host of late night straight ahead jazz, honing in on the sounds of the masters. She researched, wrote and recorded bios of Miles Davis, Ron Carter and McCoy Tyner and interviewed Jazz Flautist Bobbi Humphrey, Violin master Ron Blake. She also enjoyed lending her voice for the recording the stations Public Service Announcements. She debuted as a big band singer while at Fisk.

Today she is a member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church Cathedral Choir and a newly retired NYC Vocal Music teacher, where she led choruses and directed musicals, and introduced and shared her love of Jazz with children.

Throughout she has appeared around New York City at The Village Vanguard, Copelands, Chocolate, Billie's Black, Smoke, Small's, Minton's, The Lenox Lounge, Paris Blues, Jazz @Lincoln Center, Dizzy's Coco Cola, with Javon Jackson, Dezron Douglas, Patience Higgins, and in the Abyssinian 200 with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

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