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Karen White, Singer Songwriter - BIOGRAPHY

 

“Quintessential Quirk” and “the Quirky One” - please explain ...

Definition of “Quintessence” from The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Seventh Edition, 1987 (yes, I know, but it’s the most recent I’ve got – a Dictionary is not something you buy annually!): “Most essential part of any substance, refined extract; purest and most perfect form, manifestation, or embodiment, of some quality or class” - hence "quintessential".

Definition of “Quirk” from the same Dictionary: “Quibble, quip; trick of action or behaviour; twist or flourish in drawing or writing - hence "quirky".

Definition of “Quirky” from the online Urban Dictionary in December 2013: “Unconventional, surprising, odd."  “A word often used by narcissistic scenesters when they describe their oh-so-unique selves in their Livejournal user info pages in attempts to sound like interesting people."  “It is a word best used by one person to describe another.  Those who apply ‘quirky’ to themselves thereby call into question their very own ‘quirkiness’ by seeming gleefully self-aware (just like everyone else).” !

Oh! In my defence ...
... my “quirky” moniker was bestowed upon me some years ago by one of the chaps who runs the weekly open mic night at the Central Hotel in Port Douglas; one Thursday I went to chat to a tourist who’d just performed some original songs – I wanted to tell him he reminded me of Tom Lehrer (high praise indeed!); Craig was already chatting to the guy and when I joined them he introduced me - “This is Karen - she’s our quirky one!”  The name stuck, and hopefully that means I’m ‘unconventional, surprising and odd’, not the other part of the definition!  What it means in practice is that you’ll get a variety of song genres all mixed up together – a Leonard Cohen song could be followed by a Lonnie Donnigan one, a Bonnie Rait by a Kirsty MacColl, a Billy Connolly by a David Bowie, a Madonna by a Weird Al Yancovic parody of a Madonna song! Subjects can range from gentle declarations of a deep and lasting love to the murder of a gay cowboy; happy, sad, silly, romantic ...  there’s just about something for everyone in my repertoire!  And I’m definitely odd.

 

A potted history of my musical development ...

 

My brother was given a guitar (electric) for his 15th birthday, which means I was 10.  He let me play it without the amp (which fizzled and hissed, and was considered too dangerous for a 10 year-old).  Along with the guitar he was given a book called “Play in a Day” by Bert Weedon (which I still have – my brother stopped playing guitar when he was about 15˝) from which I started learning to play chords using this non-electrified electric guitar - which was murder on my fingers incidentally.  At last, for my 17th birthday, my parents bought me a Spanish guitar, a Malaga, still going strong.  Boy, was this easier on the fingers!

So from there it was easier to keep teaching myself (with a little help from my mate Bert) to play some of the songs of some of the artists I loved to listen to: Melanie, the Seekers, Leonard Cohen, Marianne Faithfull; I was pretty earnest in those days.  I also loved the Doobie Brothers but I couldn’t play their songs to save my life.

Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t learning these songs and then performing them for an audience – I was far, far too shy to play guitar and/or sing when anyone was listening! My first ‘public’ performance happened very many years later (when hubby John and I had moved from Pommy-land to Oz) – as a result of a bet at the monthly Poetry & Pasta event in Mossman, FNQ ...  one too many rums got me to accept the challenge.  Little did those folks know what a maelstrom they were unleashing as I got a taste for the limelight.

From Poetry & Pasta I went on to the Musos’ Club (open mic night) in Port Douglas which lead to my parents giving me the money to buy a new guitar, a Takemine, more suited to amplified music; this lead to me being involved in several productions at the local Clink Theatre, including my own shows, with my Takemine and my beautiful, hand-made especially for me Cloud Nine guitar “The Colt”.  Now I perform at every opportunity, whether in a local pub or in a 5 Star, ultra-smart Hotel in Whitehall, in London (yes, really!), and wherever I am on stage I know I have a great catalogue to pick my songs from, each one to suit the location and the occasion and, most importantly, to ENTERTAIN!

 

karen "on-the-road" - image: 4086
On the road!

karen "on-the-road" - image: 4092
Still on the road!

karen on keys at one of her shows - image: 7386
On keys at one of my shows

karen at a photo shoot - image: 3106
From a photo shoot

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