Grammy-Nominee Chats about Congo Charity Benefit Concert and Her Latest Jazz Album

Karrin Allyson

The “Many a New Day” Interview

with Kam Williams

Grammy-Nominee Chats about Congo Charity Benefit Concert and Her Latest Jazz Album

Born in the Midwest, four-time, Grammy-nominee Karrin Allyson has always been on the move. School in the Bay Area and a degree in classical piano and performance led to Minneapolis and on to Kansas City, where she signed her first contract with Concord Jazz.
Thirteen albums followed, with performances at clubs, concert venues, and major jazz festivals in the U.S., Brazil, Australia, Japan, and many major cities in Europe. In 2014, Karrin traveled to thirty cities across the U.S. and Canada as a solo vocalist with the “Newport —Now 60” Tour, which concluded at the Newport Jazz Festival. Her independently-produced holiday album, “Yuletide Hideaway,” followed just in time for the holidays, and won four stars from “Downbeat.”Karrin Allyson, The “Many a New Day” Interview, with Kam Williams

Long known for a remarkable versatility as well as the depth of her performances, the vocalist-pianist-composer-bandleader has now moved on to Motema Music and a new album, “Many a New Day (Karrin Allyson Sings Rodgers & Hammerstein).” Featuring Kenny Barron on piano and John Patitucci on bass in an intimate interpretation of beloved classics and lesser-known works, While the album is yet another first in her career, Karrin finds herself “powerfully drawn to the world of Rodgers and Hammerstein. I’ve been all around the world musically, from bop and bossa and chanson to blues and singer-songwriters. And now, I feel like coming home.”

While home for Karrin is now New York City, she still tours two days out of three. An upcoming benefit concert at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) offers listeners the opportunity to hear her perform some of the “gorgeous melodies,” as she puts it, on her new album, as well as other songs in her generous repertoire, accompanied by guitarist Steve Cardenas.

Along with their melodies, Karrin has long appreciated how “the near-perfect lyrics” of Rogers and Hammerstein also “speak about, or at least infer justice issues,” and her upcoming concert, “Chansons pour le Congo III,” is her third on behalf of Woman, Cradle of Abundance, a non-profit organization founded by Congolese women to empower women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in their fight against violence and poverty through education, counseling, medical and support services, and economic independence. Working with its American 501(c)3 partner founded by Prof. Elsie McKee and friends in Princeton, NJ, Woman, Cradle of Abundance funds counseling for survivors of rape and forced prostitution, medical care for women and children with HIV/AIDS, micro-credit projects, school fees for orphans, and a sewing school for girls.

The concert will be followed by a reception where Karrin will be signing copies of “Many a New Day” and previous albums. Clothing and other items made at the sewing school at Woman, Cradle of Abundance will also be displayed for purchase.

When and where: Sunday, September 20, 2015, at 3:00 PM, at the Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall, TCNJ, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing. Doors open at 2:15; free nearby parking. Tickets: at the door or online at: or

$70 for adults, $50 for seniors, $30 for students; TCNJ special rates. Tickets are tax-deductible at 80% of face value. For information on charities, tickets, and sponsorships, call 609-683-5157. To purchase a copy of “Many a New Day,” go to:

Kam Williams: Hi Karrin, thanks for the interview.

Karrin Allyson: Glad to do it, Kam.

KW: What interested you in doing an album of Rodgers and Hammerstein classics?

KA: I grew up with these songs, and about a year ago I saw an American Masters program on PBS about Oscar Hammerstein, and it hit me what a decent human being he was and how he was able to communicate issues of justice in his lyrics, and romance, of course. Couple that with Rodgers’ amazing melodies.

KW: They have such a vast songbook to pick from. How did you decide which tunes to include?

KA: Of course I’ve always had my favorites–but I watched several DVDs and went through all my music books and made a list, then started to weed them out–especially from South Pacific. In high school, I played Nellie Forbush, but I also wanted to choose songs not so often heard, at least in the jazz idiom, like “Can’t Say No” and “Out of My Dreams.”

KW: Is it just me, or do they no longer write Broadway show tunes that are as catchy and as socially-conscious as Rodgers and Hammerstein did in their day?

KA: I’m not qualified to answer that, really, ’cause I’m so out of that scene! There have got to be some out there.

KW: Which of their songs is your favorite?

KA: That usually depends on the night or day I’m singing.

KW: How did you come to collaborate with John Patitucci and the legendary Kenny Barron? Had you already decided on arrangements where you;d only be accompanied by piano and bass?

KA: I sought Kenny out first, as I’ve always wanted to work with him, and John was on my “Ballads (Remembering John Coltrane)” record. He added such beautiful stuff. I knew he’d be great on this, too, and the pairing of the two seemed just right. They are consummate.

KW: Your upcoming concert is a benefit for Woman, Cradle of Abundance. How did you develop an interest in this cause?

KA: My parents are liberals and have worked for justice issues throughout their lives. My mom was the first feminist I knew and continues to inspire me in that way.

KW: What’s the solution to the crisis?

KA: Education and getting the point across to the world that women’s issues are human issues.

KW: founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

KA: I just finished “Unaccustomed Earth,” a collection of wonderful short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?

KA: A Beethoven symphony!

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

KA: Chicken, rice, black beans–my “go to” with greens!

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

KA: Yes, of course! I grew up in the Lutheran church. My dad, grandfather and uncle were pastors, and my mom and grandmother did much of the music for their churches. But nature is my most spiritual inspiration.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

KA: Wow, you’re thorough! Playing outside, I think.

KW: What was your very first job?

KA: I cleaned offices, then I started to teach piano lessons. Around 18 years old, I was making a living with music.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

KA: My family.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

KA: Truly, equality and love of all for Mother Earth.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

KA: Chicken wings.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

KA: A sense of humor and creativity

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

KA: Work hard, enjoy life.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

KA: As someone who made a positive difference.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

KA: Geez! A Met museum membership, World Wildlife Fund membership, credit cards…

KW: Thanks again for the time, Karrin and best of luck with the new album.

KA: Thanks back, Kam.

To order a copy of Karrin’s new album,  Many a New Day, visit:


For movies opening October 28, 2016

  OPENING THIS WEEK Kam's Kapsules Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun by Kam Williams For movies opening October 28, 2016 BIG BUDGET FILMS Inferno (PG-13 for action, violence, profanity, disturbing images, mature themes and brief sensuality) Third installment of The Da Vinci Code franchise finds symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) suffering from amnesia and on the run with his physician (Felicity Jones) from a billionaire geneticist (Ben Foster) with a … [Read More its Good for You...]


Nat Turner’s Mental and Military Motivations

  Nat Turner's Mental and Military Motivations By Ezrah Aharone   Nate Parker's movie  has revived the question: What caused Nat Turner's 1831 uprising? Turner, first of all, was not a deranged misfit who acted outside of a historical context of previous African freedom fighters.  Throughout slavery's duration, resistance was not only constant and fatal, but twofold . . . Africans equally resisted both slavery and … [Read More its Good for You...]


ART EXHIBITION: 150 Years After The Civil War

  Cynthia Groya 150 Years After The Civil War: A Contemporary Perspective January 10 - March 6, 2016 Artist's Reception: Sunday, January 24, 3:00 - 5:00 pm Nassau Club 6 Mercer Street  Princeton, NJ 08540 The ideas reflected in Groya's paintings express a conversation about struggle for equal rights in our culture, in our time. The origin of this struggle can be traced to The Civil War in our country, which ended 150 years ago. The … [Read More its Good for You...]

Real Estate

Castles in America

  Castles in America by Amy Lignor   Robin Leach and his “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” taught us all long ago that we absolutely love to sit and view ridiculous luxury (usually owned by people who inherited all of it and didn’t work a day in their lives). See that? We had to complain about something as we were beguiled by the amount of money people would send to own or create the “best of the best.” Even though some things were referred to as the “gaudiest of … [Read More its Good for You...]


It’s Not Your “Grandma’s” Pumpkin Anymore

  It’s Not Your “Grandma’s” Pumpkin Anymore by Amy Lignor   As times move forward, technology expands. However, so does the imagination. No, I’m not talking about a new cell phone or animatronic device that creates pumpkins; I’m talking about some seriously cool ways to carve pumpkins that are popping up all over the internet. Unique, awesome, colorful – people across the U.S. have used their imaginations during the 21st century to create some of the most stunning … [Read More it Good for You...]


Finally, a Boat Shoe You Can Get Wet

  Finally, a boat shoe you can get wet   By Craig Lamb   I am happiest with wet feet. For me, that means wading a shallow saltwater flat, casting for tailing redfish. Or paddling aboard my sit-on-top kayak, cruising a river in search of smallmouth bass. Not my favorite, but when the fish are biting, fishing in the rain.   Yep, I do like getting my feet wet, but it can get downright annoying when my shoes stay wet. Footing is a challenge when shoes … [Read More its Good for You...]


Saying Goodbye to Legends…

    Saying Goodbye to Legends… by Amy Lignor   When someone you admire departs the Earth, it is extremely sad to come to terms with. In the days just passed, people and fans had to deal with the departure of two men from the world of sports. Although one perhaps was not a surprise, seeing as that the gentleman lived a good, long life, the other departure was shocking. One was a legend, while the other was on the road to becoming just that.    When … [Read More its Good for You...]


The Business of “Fear” Brings in $8 Billion a Year

  The Business of “Fear” Brings in $8 Billion a Year by Amy Lignor   There are aspects of Halloween everyone knows about. From the scary boogeyman to the haunted houses set up in cities and counties from sea to shining sea, the world certainly understands that the “frightening” is also the “entertaining” when it comes to All Hallows Eve. What most may not know, however, is the fact that Halloween is a billion (yes, BILLION) dollar industry. People are more than … [Read More its Good for You...]


I Double Dare You!

  I Double Dare You! by Amy Lignor   Haunted houses, zombie-filled corn fields, small towns that like to get together and light up the night with scary-faced pumpkins – there are all different types of Halloween events and haunts you can take the kids to and have a good time. And we’ve researched and reported on the best of them. But if you’re one of those…those who like the macabre…there are places around the globe that offer far more than just a “spooky” … [Read More its Good for You...]