Karen Bernod Interview by Tom Paul

karenKaren Bernod is one of the top session and touring singers in the music industry. Karen has performed with Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige,Incognito,D’Angelo and ErykaBadu. She has released 2 Solo album’s to date with critical acclaim,"Life 360 Degrees" 2006 and her first release titled "SomeOthaness For U" 2000. She has graced many albums over the years singing backups with Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Stephanie Mills, Paul Simon, The Pet Shop Boys to name a few. Karen brings a blend of jazz inflections over a classic R&B feel. She has also appeared as the lead in the off Broadway production of "Mama I Want To Sing".

Karen will be performing at The Blue Note https://www.bluenote.net/newyork/schedule/moreinfo.cgi?id=6092in NYC on Monday June 30th for 2 shows at 8pm and 10:30pm  – Cover$15 and worth every penny of it musically.

Check out the eflyer for the show below for more information on the Blue Note shows.

To read up more on Karen Bernod and hear her beautiful music and check out video footage of Karen singing with various artists please go to these links https://www.karenbernod.com/or www.myspace.com/karenbernod

TP: You are an in demand vocalist, singing backups on tour for many artists. How do you work in time for Karen Bernod the artist?

KB: I work in time for Karen Bernod the artist constantly. Since this is truly (music) the fabric of my being I find myself always working on and at my craft. Even when I’m working w/other artist everything is a lesson learned and a lesson to be learned. So perhaps learning one of Chaka’s songs, like her phrasing so that I can blend perfectly in the BG or Learning D’angelo’s timing or his tamber so that I too can match with his and the other vocalist helps me greatly for the Karen Bernod flava-liciousness. lol

TP: Who did you work with to co-write and produce your two solo albums?

KB: For my two solo albums I co-wrote and co-produced w/ the one and only Greg Spooner. Who is a consumate pianist excellent composer and Adorable best friend!!!

TP: When can we expect a new album?

KB: I am in the process of working on my next project now. This will be my 3rd…Wow..time fly’s when your working hard! 🙂 You can expect to hear something from us next year some time. Unless of course some one reading this decides to give a sista that shot in the arm ..then maybe I’ll have something next week! lmao 

TP:  You have a big show coming up at The Blue Note on June30th. Who will be performing in your band?

KB: My show at the Blue Note June 30th w/my band "Brooklyn Soul" consists of : Greg Spooner on Keys, Eddie Cordew on Bass, Reno Stewart on Keys, Lionel Cordew on Drums, Abduhl on lead guitar(subbing for Ronnie Drayton), Geoff Matoon on all wind instruments. And Vocals: Keith Fluitt and Mike Hammond.

TP: From your experience, how difficult as an Indie Artisti is it to get your sound out there?

KB: As an Indie artist I am empowered, gratified, and I have autonomy. I am satisfied fulfilled and proud to see all that I MUST do for self and my accomplishments. Where there’s peaks there’s valleys so that being said It’s hard! I’m always about truth and honesty. It’s hard because well, you don’t have the capital behind you like you would w/a record label. However you also don’t have the middle man taking all of your publishing. So it’s a trade off. The work you put in is exactly what you get out of it so hard work, patience, sticktooitiveness, tenacity, drive, and lots of Prayer helps in aiding w/this task. Totally all worth it cuz nothing GREAT comes easy and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Plus you learn the BUSINESS side of this SHOW.

TP: Do you handle all of your own management, label, touring, promotion? Or do you have assistance handling your business affairs?

KB: Yes I do handle all of my mngmnt,touring,promotion etc. Along with a small team of good folk who believe in me and what I do and who love me. And trust me…..This is a Blessing!! Dewayne Snype is my personal mgr. as well as personal assisstant. He’s basically my right hand man, left toe joe, and long time best friend.:-) I have a few best friends from different times in my life. I treasure them. And they are all so supportive. I’m truly Blessed!!! But as soon as I get that call to perform at Carnegie….I’m gon’ need some help…you offering? Lol

TP:  You are a great live performer, can you recall your first show on stage?

KB: Well..my very first show on stage before I became professional was PS 270 in Beds stuy Brooklyn. (although now w/all the recent regentrification "they" would like us to call it Fort green/Clinton hill). Yes I sang "love on a 2 way street" by the moments. When I didn’t even know what that meant. And I won the contest. I was 7. And sold from that moment on. I knew..yup..this is it! And the rest is history. And here I "Iz".

TP:  Which singers have had a profound impression on your vocal style?

KB: The singers who have had the  most profound impression on me…hmmm…well many. But to name a few Chaka, Natalie cole, Minnie Ripperton, Roberta Flack, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, D’angelo and Jill Scott. I truly respect each and every one of these Trail Blazers!! Just look at their body of work and their careers. Even the new jacks like D and Jill. And trust and believe D’angelo is back. June 24th. Look out for his best of.:-)

TP:  You sing with many artists over the years both locally and internationally. Can you speak of these artists and amount of time you’ve spent touring with them?

KB: The most recent like with in the last 10 years:

Erykah Badu – 2 yrs – Great innovator and actress.

D’angelo – 2 1/2yrs- The Quincy Jones of our generation. Truly Annointed.

Incognito – 2yrs – Bluey the founder. A bad bad man. His ears need to be insured.

Chaka – 5yrs – Ain’t nuttin ta say Seppp.. "There’s only one" And in my lifetime I got a chance to sing w/one of my idols…God is reeeeal good!!! I adore her!! And her gift!

Mary J Blige – 2yrs – Sweet, focused,talented,innovator and truly a trend setter.

Wow now that I’ve broken it down….damn I been workin huh! Ask my corns!:-) Truly I’m Blessed and grateful!!!

TP: Have you recently been out on tour singing with anyone this past year?

KB: I have not been doing any long tours w/any particular artist since 2005. After Chaka and Mary I decided it was time to do me and cultivate my personal career. So I stepped out on faith. I had a lil’ push how ever change is always good. And I’m all the better for it. I have been singing with Ray chew every now and then when he calls me for big gigs like Stevie, Chaka, Stephanie. I also sing with a fabulous sista friend who is sweet as pie and even more beautiful inside and she exudes that on stage. Her name is Martha Redbone. When friends call I’m there cuz we’re all in this Indie coalition together. There’s strength in numbers.

TP: What events in life have inspired your songwriting?

KB: The most indelible event in my life that continues to inspire my song writing is the Life and Death of my Beautiful, Strong, Elegant, Regal, Eloquent mommy… IRIS and a beautiful flower she is. Born January 21 , Died Sept 25th 1981. She is my muse. And of course God and all that he is bizzy doing and undoing.

TP: You are relaxed, humorous and personable in your live shows. Can you advise other singers how to harness in these results into their live shows?

KB: I would tell other singers to totally be YOU. No facades just embrace all you have to offer. Love it. And enjoy sharing your gift with others cuz god wants us to be messengers w/good news so share with your audience YOU.  I think I’m relaxed because the audience is. I feed off of my audience and my band. However their are times when you have an audience and no matter what you do there face still looks like they smell S***. But by the time the show is over….chile… there smelling roses, tulips, jack daniels! Cuz you know you gotta work em. They’ll love you forever and say…you know…I kinda liked that artist she pulled me out of my funk.."What was her name again" ?? lol If you truly enjoy what you do..it’ll show in your work and those who come to see you work.

TP: Are you working on any side projects that you can tell us about?

KB: Projects? Well yes in fact I’m enjoying public speaking to kids in public schools for career day. I’m also enjoying vocal coaching my babies and watching them progress and grow into great business people in this Business of Music. All that you learn also applies to life so it helps me to keep things in perspective and count my blessings. To whom much is given much is required. I totally believe that. It also Takes a Village. Sorry to sound so cliche’ but it’s true.I got a couple of thingies up my sleeve that I will wait to reveal. Ok? ok!  Ya know I don’t wanna dissipate the power.:-)

TP: Can you tell me the last 3 artists that you have downloaded or bought their CD’s?

KB: The last 3 artists music I have downloaded or bought is:

Natasha Beddingfield

Lalah Hathaway

Lily Allen

Colbie Caillat

Oh..you said three huh? Ooops..:-)

Please come out and support Karen Bernod at the Blue Note https://www.bluenote.net/newyork/schedule/moreinfo.cgi?id=6092on Monday June 30th for 2 shows at 8pm and 10:30pm. The cover is $15 at tables and $10 at the bar. Checkout the eflyer below for more info on the show.

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