Moon Girl Records
110 Northshore Drive
Florence, AL 35634
Karen Gruber: Coming Into My Own
Karen Gruber grew up in Florence, Alabama, across the Tennessee River from Muscle Shoals, a town rich in recording history. Some of her earliest musical memories are of listening to Elvis and James Brown. Karen’s teenage years brought Santana and the Allman Brothers, and through her mother, Karen was also influenced by Julie London, Peggy Lee, and Frank Sinatra.
After retiring from performing in 1984 to raise her family, Karen made the decision in July 2000 to return to music. “My sister’s battle with cancer, and her ultimate death, drove me back to expressing my emotions through music,” Karen explains. “I had locked my voice deep inside and protected ‘her’ for sixteen years. I had to fight with myself to let her back out.” Once free, though, her voice flowed in a mix of old influences, sadness, and a new maturity.
Karen has taken her vocal talents and performed at various clubs, restaurants, and private parties in the Muscle Shoals area, Huntsville, AL, and in various locations in Tennessee as well. Her career has also taken her to Birmingham, where she has sung at Sazerac, Moonlight Music Café, and Ona’s Music Room. She was part of the W.C. Handy Music Festival in the early ‘80s, started back up again in 2001, and this past year saw her performing on eight dates with a variety of backing musicians. She has performed with such notables as Charles Rose, Sonny Harris, Bob Wray, Harvey Thompson, Jack Pearson, Ray Reach, Marcus Pope, Tim Goodwin, Greg Chambers, Tom Wolfe, and Pete Avallone. Future bookings in Memphis are on the near horizon for Karen, as well as in Atlanta and Florida.
In addition to her singing talents, Karen also has delved into other artistic avenues of expression in her life. She was part of several stage productions at the University of North Alabama, Zodiac Theater, Center Stage Productions, and was in a small film production as well. Karen also sang a hymn which is included in the background of a documentary film entitled Stitch.
Making the leap into the recording studio with renowned producer/guitarist, Jack Pearson, Karen chose to record eleven of her favorite songs. The result is a CD collection of jazz standards entitled Into My Own. “I love how the players really ‘stretch out’ on these songs.” says Karen. “Each song feels so intimate, and that’s exactly how I like to perform – this CD suits me.” Pearson assembled quite a collection of players for Karen’s CD, among them Steve Kummer on piano, Jim White on drums, Elizabeth Pearson and Jim Ferguson on bass, Tom Cherry on sax, and Clayton Ivey on keyboards. These seasoned professionals helped to accent Karen’s silky smooth voice, and her CD almost sounds like it could have been recorded directly from a performance. The intimacy and immediacy of this recording is stunning in its power and yet its utter simplicity, and Karen easily takes the listener on the journey with her in each song.
Into My Own can be heard on Alabama Public Radio, WQLT-FM, WJAB-FM, and recently it has been picked up nationally by XM satellite radio. Wherever you hear her, take note of this as you listen - she sings almost totally naturally, having only taken a very few voice lessons in her life. This voice is pure in every way, and full of emotion in every note and in every phrase.
“As I see it,” Karen explains, “the musical notes are the vehicle, but to me, it is all about the lyrics. To quote ‘Desdemona’ from the Allman Brothers, ‘I make my living pouring out my pain.’ I truly feel every word I sing, and hopefully you’ll hear that in these songs I have chosen.”