"Karen Somerville"

Buck HillKarensomerville was born the second oldest of four children in a real live 'back woods' town called Worton Point in Kent County, on the Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland. She laughs as she repeats a joke made by someone poking fun of her small surroundings. "Someone once said to me that Worton Point was so far back in the woods that the stop signs read 'Whoa' and the horses could read them." She admits that while the stop signs are like any other stop sign; there is some truth in the sentiment of the joke. Her love for music began at home, and was cultivated in the church. Both parents play instruments and sing. And her PopPop played accordian and harmonica, though he called it a mouth-harp; he often played the instruments at the same time. She can sing soprano, alto, tenor and an almost bass, if you will. She's sweet jazz like Sarah Vaughn and June Christy standards. She's Billie Holiday, and sassy blue like a Dinah Washington wake up call or a Shirley Horn lullaby. She's sunny, like Nancy Wilson and soul erupting like Mahalia Jackson. When you think you've heard it all; she'll get down on an a cappella sound with her Trio whose electrifying harmonies are so jelled it's amazing to discover just who is really singing which part. In this album Somerville (as called by many friends) is joined by longtime friends Lester Barrett Jr. and Wen Chamberlain. Two command performances by Nia (knee-yah) in 1998 and 1999 under the direction of Marlon Saunders of New York reunited her with several of Kent Counties' most celebrated gospel singers; Lester and Wen were among them. They sing background in this project, fill out the a cappella trio and they each have a solo track on the CD. Their talent truly speaks for the fine company Somerville keeps. The music is lead by the talented Dick Durham of Church Hill, MD., jazz pianist extraordinaire. It's Gershwin rejuvenated with an Ellington finish. Fascinating rhythms that are fresh and enticing. The magic of her voice and the joy of Dick Durhams' piano is a duo you will want to hear more of, Karensomerville is a natural talent, possessing the ability to captivate audiences in a medley of genres. Does she have a preference? "No, not so much of genres, but to moods," she says. "I've had seasons for blues and then I'd feel better in gospel. Later I'd chase down sulky jazz, and when I am satisfied in that I'll examine folk. My choice of music depends greatly upon what's happening to me and around me. But most assuredly, whatever I'm singing it's got to touch my soul." Her performances are gaining notoriety across the Mid-Atlantic region at colleges, universities, in public schools, theaters and coffeehouses. She played the 11th annual GPU Berks Jazz Fest 2001 for the third consecutive year with 'Ladies Sing the Blues.' This feisty ensemble features Somerville with Sue Matthews and Melissa McGlynn of Chestertown, MD. and the late Kathe Reavis of Easton, MD. (1946-2004), accompanied by a 12-piece electric Blues Band who's sound is reminiscent of the 1940's and 50's. In this show they pay tribute the Blues Queens of America. That show has been called riveting, witty, fun and explosive. The brain-child of producer Tom McHugh of the Mainstay-Rock Hall, MD.; Ladies Sing the Blues has never ended without an encore. Love Cures is another encore performance. In this project the singer/songwriter covers classic standards, blues and gospel tunes. She redefines these familiar melodies in her own stylish coo; moving you to settle back and listen, take it in with your heart and soul. The songs selection like the title of the album, avowal the concept. Love Cures is Somervilles' first CD release and was recorded live in the sold out Tawes Theatre at historic Washington College in Chestertown, MD.,February, 2001. The show, also produced by Somerville was a fundraising event co-sponsored by the Kent County Arts Council and Kent Youth, Inc. Somerville is a board member of both organizations and did the show for the benefit of Kent Youth, Inc., which provides residential and outreach services to at-risk youths. She has also donated a portion of the proceeds from sales of the CD to KYI. By popular demand, Love Cures II showed in March, 2002. The rest of the band is made up of more friends; which explains why the show is billed; Karensomerville and Friends. The group works together in many different venues, in varying numbers and genres. Tom McHugh takes a spotlight entrance and wails a Cab Calloway styled 'Hit The Road Jack, while Tom Anthony(Pomona, MD.) fingers a mad prowl on his Upright Bass. Bill Matthews(Easton,MD.) lays down the rhythm on acoustic guitar. These three are also regulars in the Ladies Sing the Blues act. Also a part of Karensomerville and Friends in the Love Cures project are lead guitarist, Jim Cunningham of Annapolis, MD. and Ray Anthony of Betterton, MD. on drums. A smorgasbord of fun! Love Cures is a listening experience that you'll want to indulge in many times over. It's everything you expected and then some. Karensomerville gives it her all. A passion equal to singing is sharing her talents and time throughout the community in a variety of civic organizations. Since March 1994, she has worked with her board of directors as founder of the African American Heritage Council; dedicated to the preservation of photographs, oral histories, and the documentation of the contribution of blacks in early Kent County, MD. This effort is notably supported by The Chestertown Jazz Festival, chaired by Dr. Melvin Rapelyea and held each year since 1996. Karen was a nominee for the Kent County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award 2000 by the Chester Valley Community and the Kent News. Somerville's latest production is available now at Cdbaby; It's the New Gospelites, an a cappella gospel ensemble of six; from where else but Worton Point. The group just celebrated their 30th year anniversary on September14, 2003. Somerville gets few opportunities to travel with them, but she jumped on this chance to produce and sing with them. This is the ole' time gospel. The album is co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation of Baltimore, MD. and the African American Heritage Council. The album is entitled "Everyday Is Sunday, The Heritage Of A cappella Gospel", it was released on Thanksgiving Weekend at the Open House of the Schoolhouse Museum in W Pt. The museum was showing it's latest finds in late 19th century photographs and artifacts representating the life and time of Blacks families in early Kent County. Serious injuries from an on-the-job accident have taken Karen off the circuit,lately. She says the majority of her time is spent in physical therapy. But, her faith is in God while her mind is on singing, writing, and producing. When you've purchased your copy of Love Cures you won't have to wonder what to look forward too. Karensomerville doesn't list her greatest influences from famous names on billboard charts, but rather from the names of black women listed as soloist on Sunday morning bullentins of churches around Kent County. "Some of them still with us,she says, most of them gone,Home." Get Love Cures and get lifted!

Click this to close the window.