Where it all began – I come from a musical family and from a really young age I was always captivated by music. I still remember my favourite song at five years old, This Diamond Ring by Gary Lewis, played obsessively on vinyl. Then there were the school plays, Kapa Haka and performances that I took to like a duck to water. Music is in my DNA and as Lady Gaga would say, “I was born this way”.
Over the years I’ve had some pretty cool gigs – singing the New Zealand National anthem would be one of them. By this time I was use to singing in front of audiences but not thousands of rugby crazed fans televised on national television which is what I did for the New Zealand Maori vs New Zealand Barbarians match. My nerves were next level and changing the key only days before the event didn’t help. But what a buzz and honour, I can now tick that off the bucket list. When I did the same for the FIA Asia Pacific International Rally, it was a breeze in comparison.
I’ve been involved in a number of International Jazz & Blues festivals and my highlights would be the festivals in Fiji and Samoa working with muscians from America, UK and Australia. A musician’s paradise.
At the moment I’m teamed up with Brian Henderson on the keys and John Fraser on the bass. Brian Henderson is a vet in the Jazz scene both nationally and internationally, and was the musical director for the Roger Fox big band for 20 years. He has taken me to new heights and is a big influence on my music.
When I was younger I use to dream of being a TV presenter. Yes, a news reader actually and would read newspaper articles in the mirror with a few cooking shows thrown in. Well, I didn’t take that career path in life but the closest I got to that dream was hosting my own radio show on a community radio station on Magic Music FM called ‘Kaz & all that Jazz’.
In 2005 a friend urged me to audtion for a singing competion on television. Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I unexpectedly made it through the heats and into the final which was as far as I got. I came away with the experience and a music clip of singing Billy Holiday’s, It’s That Old Devil. Several years later I was invited back for a competition for past finalists on television where I sang Sarah Vaughan’s, Misty. This lead me to a defining moment when one of the judge’s said, among other things, “Sorry Karen, I just don’t know who Karen Edwards is!” Okay, he wasn’t Simon Cowell who is known to slice vulnerable budding artists with his controversial insults but it still had impact. Embarrassed, I exited the stage. That comment resonated and self analysis kicked into overdrive. After some time, I was relieved by a ‘light bulb’ moment by the Queen of Pop, Madonna herself. Saying, “Express Yourself“. Interpreted: Write, Sing and Express, (who you are) = WSE. Evolution as an artist and as a person is ongoing and at times will come with set backs and disappointments in different shapes and forms. I’ve learnt at anytime I feel knocked – I Get up. Stand. Grow, = GSG. In that order. Staying true to me. Being lead by my dream. Who can stop the sun from shining?