Karen Briggs: World Jazz Musician
Karen's span through genres as a violinist includes an eclectic range of orchestral, Gospel, Funk, R&B, Latin, New Age, Rock, Hip Hop, Middle Eastern and several Jazz styles.
With all linked by improvisation and embellishment, her audio visual signature has become popular and sought after for a variety of live events and recorded projects internationally.
She appears as a feature in music video concerts, recordings and has recorded three solo projects. She has performed as a featured soloist in over forty countries.
After her family's relocation to Portsmouth, Virginia, she started learning violin in 1976 with public school orchestra teacher, Mrs. D. Jerelene Harding.
With strong family music influences, Karen began to experiment with the violin outside of it's traditional expectations and quickly caught-on locally as a unique, feature-talent.
As a sophomore in college, her audition for the Virginia Symphony, while studying as a full-time, Music & Media major and taking private violin lessons from Dr. Peter Zaret at Norfolk State University eventually rounded out the foundation of her signature.
Validated by the knowledge of a few violinists who, like herself, performed in contemporary violin genres, (Noel Pointer, Jean Luc Ponty, Stephan Grapelli and Dr. Roland Sunkins) Karen pursued her sound.
After a four-time win at “Amateur Night at the Apollo”, she moved to Los Angeles in 1987, where she investigated the local Latin music scene for several years.
During that time in 1990, she landed her first major world tour with British based R&B sensation,
"Soul ll Soul" (“Back to Life”) a show that uniquely included a trio of choreographed violinists.
The following year, Karen auditioned for the Yanni string band.
Often referred to as "the lady in red", her fiery violin solos have been seen literally by millions internationally. In fact, the highly memorable PBS special "Live at the Acropolis" has broadcasted in 65 countries and viewed by over 500 million plus.
From there, performance opportunities became more prestigious and frequent.
Accompanied by pianist/composer Dave Grusin, Karen represented jazz violin for a NYC string program benefit fundraising event hosted by Itzhak Perlman and
Isaac Stern, marking her feature debut at Carnegie Hall.
A cameo appearance in the resulting family movie classic entitled, "Music of the Heart" starring Meryl Streep, represents Karen among the top violinists in the world.
Original "Return-To-Forever" members, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White assembled a group-titled, jazz-rock project called, "Vertu", which served to earn Karen even more respect in the jazz-fusion genre.
Soon after, an invite from Diana Ross came with an opportunity to record and to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ms. Ross has since invited Karen to work with her on several of her tours.
Briggs' musical expression is featured in successful hip hop releases such as "Reunited" by Rza & Wu Tang Clan and "Hidden Beach’s Unwrapped" series, of which her
rendition of “Gangsta’s Paradise” continues to inspire upcoming violinists and serves as another fan favorite.
Most recently she has appeared in concerts with Oud player, Naseer Shamma who 's concerts have taken her to Iraq, Sudan, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait.
She has been acknowledged recently by the Los Angeles Black Music Award for Best Female Jazz Performer, as well as, the Charles Mingus Award for Jazz.