$20 online $23 by phone/at the door
The shore’s beloved songstress Karen Somerville is back at the Mainstay. “Lady K” is affectionately esteemed by her long-time fans for her Billie Holiday-like jazz croon and ability to thrill with the power of Etta James, and beltings of soul-erupting Mahalia Jackson style gospel. She has been delighting audiences for over 20 years with her vocal artistry and is at turns versatile and soothing, audacious, and guaranteed to surprise in her musical selections. For this annual show she boasts the accompaniment of four of her favorite musicans. Pianist Joe Holt, bassist Jeff Davis, multi-reed player Seth Kibel, and drummer, Mike McShane. The program for this unforgettable evening will include selections from renowned artists Oleta Adams, Phyllis Hyman, Sade, and more!
Mainstay founder, Tom McHugh describes Somerville as “a jazz singer, par excellence.” She is a favorite of regional audiences for her jazz vocals that swing between sweet, sassy and sultry. She has received high praise for her gospel performances with Sombarkin and the New Gospelites, and for her stunning performance as Bob Kaufman’s muse in Robert Earl Price’s play “The Golden Sardine.”
No matter what she sings, an evening with Karen Somerville is always special as she inhabits each song, making every nuance and every phrase her own.
Somerville was born the second oldest of four children in rural Kent County, MD. She speaks proudly of the advantages of being reared in a small town; of close knit families, and everyone looking out for the other, of church services filled with praise.
Her love for music began at home, and was cultivated in church. She says, “Both of my parents played instruments and sang; that was how we entertained each other at home. It was our favorite pastime. My Pop Pop Emory played the accordion and harmonica though he called it a mouth-harp. He was awesome. He would sing and play for us, and make the sound of the train whistle blowing, the dogs barking, and would be telling a story all at the same time.”
“When I was barely in first grade, my Mom taught us to sing harmony; I remember it like yesterday. She would take us with her when she was asked to sing in churches around the county. My sister Cathy and brother Alton Jr. (Gary wasn’t born yet) and I would sing background for her as she played piano. I don’t know how we had the nerve, except she was so confident that we could do it well.”
Somerville’s recordings include "Love Cures" and "The New Gospelites, Every Day Is Sunday." She is also a local historian who is the founder of the African American Schoolhouse Museum.