Karen Lyu is a unique and animated jazz singer/songwriter/actor who loves to create unforgettable performances with playful exploration and authentic power.
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 Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Janis Siegel (The Manhattan Transfer), Nina Simone, Holly Cole, Dianne Reeves, and Youn Sun Nah. People are often surprised by Karen's powerful voice and unique stage persona!
Born in Seoul, Korea, she loved to go up to perfect strangers and sing to them at age 2! 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, sang in South Korea for 5 years, and now she loves living in Chicago, IL. 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 MusiCares/Grammy Foundation grant, a NashvilleMuse Songwriter award, a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, and more. From 2020 - 2021, Karen received $10,000 from an arts patron sponsor to explore songwriting, and posted 24 New Music Monday Facebook/Instagram videos of her original music.