Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC – She is my absolute favorite violinist: jazz star and electrifying violinist Karen Briggs. I consider her to be a gifted queen of violin. Her dazzling and impeccable solo makes her very popular and can make you jump to your feet.
Briggs has a natural talent and awesome ability to improvise various styles of music. Perhaps that’s due to her constant exposure to symphonic orchestra, jazz ensemble, Pop, Caribbean, Afro Latin, rap and Middle Eastern music. You will love the way she expresses herself as she improvises and interplays. A great example of this is her guest appearance on One Night In Jordan: A Concert For Peace.”
Karen Briggs has performed worldwide as a featured soloist in concerts from the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, to the Taj Mahal in India. I stumbled onto Briggs for the first time while watching the Greek pianist Yanni’s concerts at the ancient Acropolis and at the Taj Mahal in the 1990s.
Briggs, described as one of the most celebrated jazz violinists in the world, grew up immersed in music in a Virginia state village. Her grandfather played trumpet and piano, and all her uncles and aunts either sang or played music. She started her violin lessons when she was in elementary school, then majored in music at college. In the 1980s, Briggs won the amateur night (Top Dog Night) contest at New York’s famous Apollo Theater four times.
In 1988, she began her first professional tour throughout the United States and Japan. In 1993, fans started to call her the “Lady in Red” after having seen her world tours with Yanni and her amazing solo performances Live at the Acropolis, which was watched on television by more than 500 million people around the world.
- Karen Briggs was Born in New York City in 1963
- Grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia
- Began violin lessons when she was 12
- Studied music education and mass media at Norfolk State University inNorfolk, Virginian.
- Played with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in 1983 for four years
- Karen (1992)
- Amazing Grace (1996)
- Soulchestral Groove (2009)
Briggs has also performed and recorded with many great artists, including Stanley Clarke & Lenny White, Mike Phillips, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin & Yolanda Adams. She has a total of three albums — the latest solo CD – Soulchestral Groove — was released in August 2009.
Briggs released Soulchestral Groove after finishing a project that started in 2002 and culminated with the release of Unwrapped Vol. 2. The album includes Karen Briggs’ spectacular performance of the extremely popular crime-fighting rap song “Gangsta’s Paradise” by rap star Coolio.
For more on jazz music, listen to VOA’s Jazz America