President, Jamaica Federation of Musicians
Karen is easily Jamaica’s most versatile entertainer. She loves to sing and masters many genres – R&B, Reggae, Pop and Jazz. She takes her audience with her on a smooth musical journey and you are happy to enjoy the clarity and sincerity of her pure vocal stylings. To see Karen perform, it is obvious that she truly loves the stage and revels in the unique flow of energy between audience and entertainer. Her warmth and charm are always evident when she performs.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica to Hoover and Barbara Smith, Karen attended St. Hugh’s High School and later gained a Business degree from Concordia University in Montreal Canada. She worked at the National Commercial Bank, Jamaica for three years before deciding to follow her heart’s dream of being an entertainer.
Her singing career took off in earnest in 1986 and she performs at many of the major hotels on Jamaica’s North Coast including Couples Swept Away, Couples Negril Grande and the Hilton Rose Hall Resort. She was the first act featured at the Riu Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas when it opened in February 1990. She also performs at many corporate events and church fundraisers.
Karen has been the opening act for many major artistes – among them James Ingram, Natalie Cole, Chuck Mangione, Smokey Robinson, Seal and Harry Belafonte who describes her as a “wonderfully gifted artiste”. She is the voice of the “Winds of Hope” recorded for Jamaica’s Olympic effort in 1992. Her CD “Reflections of Love” was produced by Sly and Robbie and Gitsy. A mix of Reggae, R&B and Hip Hop, it includes the former #1 hit “Oh Me Oh My”.
She is a multi award winning artiste having won the Jamaica Music Industry Award (JAMI) for Jazz and Cabaret an unprecedented nine (9) times and also many Jamaican Federation of Music Awards.
Karen is widely recognized as Jamaica’s leading jazz vocalist and enjoys the freedom and challenge that jazz offers.
Karen is married to legendary rock steady bassist Jackie Jackson and they have a daughter, Courtni. Karen and Jackie were inducted into the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival Hall of Fame in June 2001. She was awarded the Order of Distinction in 2006 by the Jamaican Government for memorable performances.