Karen’s musical journey began in the late 90s when she discovered that singing along to a recording by jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald helped her deal with the heartbreak of a failing love affair. The romance may have ended but her love of singing the standards was discovered and has been going strong ever since. Early performances in and around Ottawa led to Karen’s debut at the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 2002 and she very soon was playing with many of the area’s finest musicians. Along the way, she developed a dedicated and enthusiastic following for whom she delights in putting on a show whether at supper clubs, house concerts or concert halls.
Over the years, Karen has produced a number of popular tribute concerts celebrating the careers of well-known jazz artists including Blossom Dearie, Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, Django Reinhardt, George and Ira Gershwin, Julie London and Nancy Wilson as well as two shows in homage to her first and most lasting inspiration, Ella Fitzgerald. Karen has appeared at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, Merrickville’s Jazz Fest, GigSpace, Music@MillRoad, the Ottawa Grassroots Festival and the Warkworth Lilac Festival as well as at the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum. She has performed for numerous private and corporate clients and also appears at various retirement residences where she loves performing for and interacting with the residents.
Karen was the first Artistic Director of Merrickville’s Jazz Fest and a host on “Swing Is In the Air” on CKCU FM. Karen is also an avid supporter of the local music scene and since 2010, has been involved in a number of projects to assist jazz artists in the development of their careers. All of these volunteer activities have brought her great satisfaction.
Noted jazz historian the late Ron Sweetman described Karen’s singing as having “real feeling and a subtle swing in a deep, rich voice.” Peter Hum, jazz critic for the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, commented “Ottawa singer Karen Oxorn has impressed me over the last few years as someone who came late to jazz but made great strides thanks to her diligence and devotion.” The late Jacques Emond, founding Artistic Director of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, had the following comments: “Talented and versatile Karen Oxorn is a very interesting vocalist. She has a warm and swinging straightforward voice skilled with ballads as well as upbeat songs.” Biographie en français
Peter HumJazz Critic, Musician / Ottawa Citizen
"Ottawa singer Karen Oxorn has impressed me over the last few years as someone who came late to jazz but made great strides thanks to her diligence and devotion."
Mark FergusonMusician, Arranger, Composer, Teacher / markferguson.ca
"Congratulations on a great tribute concert to Blossom Dearie. You sounded and looked marvelous and the audience loved it. Thanks for including me."
Jacques Emond 1934-2013Founding Artistic Director / Ottawa Jazz Festival
"Talented and versatile Karen Oxorn is a very interesting vocalist. She has a warm and swinging straightforward voice skilled with ballads as well as upbeat songs."
Ron Sweetman 1932-2018Jazz Historian and Radio Host / CKCU FM
"Real feeling and a subtle swing in a deep, rich voice."
"Karen Oxorn is a huge talent in the Ottawa jazz world. She has earned the title because of her rich, warm voice and her dedication to her craft. Karen has also impressed her audiences with her on-stage elegance, and her sense of humour."
"When performing, she has a captivating way of looking outward, as though she is thinking of something in the past, or perhaps it is the future. Whatever it is, Karen is a real entertainer and we are honoured to have had her perform at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival."
"Karen’s first appearance at Merrickville’s Jazz Fest in 2012 was our opportunity for explosive success over the following years. As our first Artistic Director, Karen's warmth, generosity and eagerness to make a difference with her music and that of other artists
led us to a huge boost in our goals to provide a showcase for local and city (eg. Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City) bands, and Merrickville is now on the map for great jazz. Thank you, Karen."
John Haysom, Bert Waslander and the late Howard Tweddle 1951-2020Musicians / Glebop Jazz Trio
"Karen is not only an accomplished jazz singer but an all-round performer. She captivates an audience with her spirited style, with humour, with original lyrics. She is great to work with."
Michael Curtis HannaVocalist / Michael Curtis Hanna
"Karen, you are a consummate singer and performer, and I count it a joy to have shared the stage with you and your very special tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and the Great American Songbook. Bravo to you, my sister."
Shelley RussellPresident / Diva Productions, New York
"I first heard Karen sing at a small jazz club in NYC years ago. Sultry, smokin’ and sass are three words that come to mind when I think about her voice."
"I really enjoy working with Karen Oxorn. She is super-organized and knows her material. Karen is someone who has listened to and studied the great jazz vocalists."
"She can really swing and deliver a lyric. I also think Karen is a consummate entertainer. She keeps an audience totally engaged with her warm personality and quick wit."
“I loved your velvety voice and textured delivery (as I always do) at your Nancy Wilson tribute. The program was just the right blend of interesting new material and lovely old standards, and your rendition of "Guess Who I Saw Today" was heart-rendingly beautiful."
"People were abuzz with how much they enjoyed the show; thank you for doing it. You have really helped enormously with building the Music @ Mill Road brand and the jazz cabaret in particular.”
Marilee Townsend-AlcornExecutive Director / GigSpace.ca
“Karen is a consummate professional. Meticulous in every detail, she provides a carefully curated and beautifully arranged selection of music themed for each concert. Karen’s deep swing feel and gorgeous vocals shine through every performance.”
"There is no doubt that Karen's spunky, classy personality and genuine passion for these Jazz standards really come out when she sings. Her rich tone, song choices and creative approach to phrasing really make these tunes her own."
"She delivers moments that people can relate to in a personal way, as if she has lived through these songs. Her heart is in every lyric."
"Karen has helped my band organize our album launch tour, hosted a concert of ours in her lovely home and given me advice on numerous occasions. Her drive, motivation and profound generosity just blow me away."