Her love of music and singing continued through junior high and high school. In junior high, she continued to sing in the school chorus, her church choir and joined Queens Borough Wide Chorus. Her acting also continued as she starred in the school’s production of the musical Cinderella, as one of the step sisters. She attend Hillcrest High School with award winning actors Fran Drescher, Ray Romano and saxophonist Reggie Woods. Here she deepened her musical training in the music careers program. Karen was awarded for her outstanding participation in the chorus. Again back at home, her older sister introduced her to Latin Jazz.
While attending Fisk University, the alma mater of big band leader Jimmie Lunceford, in Nashville Tennessee, she was heard throughout the city as the late night host of the straight ahead jazz program on WFSK, 88.1 FM, school’s radio station and her jazz history class. Here she recorded bios of jazz masters as Miles Davis, Ron Carter, McCoy Tyner and PSAs (Public Service Announcements). She also had the honor of interviewing Jazz Flautist Bobbi Humphrey, Violin master the late John Blake, Jr. Her recorded bios, PSAs and interviews were aired throughout the city. It was at Fisk that she first performed with a big band and was awarded the Presser Foundation Scholarship.
Today Karen, a sensitive, sultry and soulful song stylist, takes her audience on a journey as she sings songs familiar to most, but with a new look, unfamiliar to most, yet enjoyed by all. Karen has appeared at Chocolate, Billie’s Black, Minton’s, Paris Blues, The Lenox Lounge, Smoke, Small’s, Copeland’s, La Cave, Honeysuckle and the Village Gate. She has graced the stage with: the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in the world Premier of Aby 200; Bill Saxton, Javon Jackson, Peter Washington, Louis Hayes, Wycliff Gordon, Lafayette Harris Jr, Bob Cunningham, Dewayne Cook Broadnax, Paul Beaudry, Andy Farber, Patience Higgins and the Sugar Hill Quartet. She was honored to record her debut CD Dream, available on CD Baby and iTunes, with bassist, Curtis Lundy; pianist, Xavier Davis; drummer Jason Brown; and tenor saxophonists, Todd Herbert and David Schnitter.
Karen Maynard was born in Queens, New York home to Jazz legends, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. As a child, she skipped through the house singing. She couldn’t wait until she was old enough to join the church choir and she has been a member ever since. Her favorite activities in kindergarten were song time, were she was always the first child to jump up out of her seat and push in her chair ready to sing. Finger painting was also one of Karen’s favorite activities in kindergarten which evolved into her love of piano, but not before learning to play the clarinet in third grade. It was here in elementary school where Karen was bit by the jazz love bug, when she heard a fellow class, render a foot tapping, swinging rendition of the standard Blue Skies. In church, in addition to singing, she began to act in various religious, holiday performances. At home, Karen was exposed to gospel, opera, R&B, and the comedic recordings of Red Fox and Mom’s Mabley.