Do people make fun of your voice? Do you cringe when you hear your voice - like when you hear a recording of yourself?
That used to be Karen years ago! This is Karen NOW...
Karen Lyu (she/her) is a beloved Holistic Voice Coach + Eclectic Jazz Singer/Songwriter/Actor. Her new mission is to train creative amateur singers to become passionate pro performers who sing on pitch! She has helped over 1,000 diverse students from 13 countries, since 1997. She is an eHow.com YouTube voice expert who has earned IMIA, CCHI, TNAOC, TESOL, and New Science of Singing certifications. Currently, she is Co-Chair of the Voice and Speech Teachers Association (VASTA) BizCore Committee, and a full member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Due to her love of jazz, she earned a BSS in Jazz Studies, Vocal Performance from Cornell College in 1993. Karen’s multiple honors include a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, a $10,000+ arts patron sponsorship, a MusiCares grant, and being a judge for Hmong Idol USA. Karen has sung in over 40 musical styles and in 15 languages. In Minneapolis, MN, she was the Voice Department Head and the Executive Director of the legendary West Bank School of Music. Karen has ADHD and mental illness, which makes her a more compassionate and innovative vocal coach. She is a tech nerd with 14 years of experience voice coaching online. Karen has lived in South Korea, CA, TX, MN, IA, TN, and Chicago, IL. Karen also enjoys food, travel, yoga and the Arts.
NEWS: OFFICIAL WINNER for the APAC Insider Magazine Business Awards 2022
Karen's passion for singing, and struggle with her own voice, have led her to over a dozen voice instructors — including Roberta Davis (Berklee School of Music), researching various methods — including Seth Riggs' Speech Level Singing and Dr. Morton Cooper's ("The Voice Doctor"), voiceover training with Don Cosgrove (The Talent Center), various holistic health workers, and 25 years of voice coaching. Due to her love for jazz, she earned a BSS in Jazz Studies, Vocal Performance from Cornell College in 1993. She is also a member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). As an actor, she has studied with a number of actor-trainers including T'Keyah Crystal Keymah (In Living Color) and Susan Schuld (Globe Theater), VO directors Ned Lott (Disney, Studio Ghibli), Dave Walsh (TrueTell), and Don Cosgrove (The Talent Center), VO Coach Eliza Jane Schneider (South Park), and was a Seoul City Improv member for 5 years. Among numerous trainings, she has earned New Science of Singing voice instructor certification, Peter Sage's Elite Mentorship Forum personal development certification, Jim Kwik's Superbrain certification, and she is currently doing Elise Arsenault's The Great Audiobook Adventure program. Karen has earned Continuing Education Accreditation Program certification from the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI), the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), and the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (TNAOC) for her "How to Protect Your Voice" Zoom and in-person workshops. She is always learning something new!
Because of her research and experience, Karen has been recognized as a holistic voice expert by eHow.com, FOX, NBC, CityPages, StarTribune, Asian American Press, and more. She is currently Co-chair of the Voice and Speech Teachers Association (VASTA) Bizcore Committee and Facilitator of the Female Entrepreneur Music Academy Songwriters. In the past, she was Board Chair at West Bank School of Music and a board member of Speak Out Sisters in Minneapolis, the Treasurer for North River Toastmasters in Seoul, and was once a judge for the Hmong Idol USA national singing competition.
Karen loves to share what she's learned, and has inspired over 1000 students to improve their voices ~ up to 36 students per week in Minnesota. Karen has helped absolute beginners to advanced singers, speakers and actors, from students age 8 to 88, since 1997. She started singing professionally in 1993, and has explored all kinds of voice solutions since 1989.
In addition, Karen has offered group learning experiences for various topics, such as "How to Protect Your Voice", "If You Can Speak, You Can Sing", "News Anchor English", and "Empower Your Voice for Women" at West Bank School of Music, Korea Improv Theater, Tennessee Language Center, Dreamland Arts, Walker Community Church, Earth Mother Mind Jam, One World Festival, Doosan Corporation, Toray Corporation, Yoons School of English, on Zoom, and by teleconference. She has done custom vocal workshops by request for organizations such as: FACE VO Collective (Beijing, China), Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators (Nashville, TN), Walker Community Church Choir (Minneapolis, MN), and more.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Karen grew up with her hard-working immigrant family (Mom was a registered nurse and Dad was an acupuncturist) in California, Texas, and Minnesota. She then got her Jazz Studies degree in Vocal Performance at Cornell College in Iowa, and also lived in Nashville, Tennessee. She enjoyed being an expat in Seoul, South Korea for 10 years, and now lives in Chicago, IL. Karen has been fortunate to perform in the US, South Korea, Europe, Southeast Asia, Central America, and Brazil.
Karen has been a bandleader for over two decades, including: Karen Lyu Jazz Experience, Karen Lyu Swing Quartet. Karen Lyu & Fresh Jazz, Karen Lyu & Global Jazz, Karen Lyu Quartet, the Ben and Karen Duo, and the Yoo and Karen Jazz Duo. Karen has been also been to fortunate to be a member of: Pacha Mamas, Morris Wilson Band, Via Brasil, Banda Brasil, Bomba, Robert Robinson's Minneapolis Community College Gospel Choir, Jazz Transit, Eddie Piccard Trio, and also has sung as a solo vocalist since 1993. Her singing has been featured on National Public Radio, documentary film, TV, radio, cable, and on all kinds of stages. She has 3 of her own recordings - Karen Lyu Jazz Experience, Karen Lyu & Fresh Jazz, Karen Lyu & Global Jazz Live - and also has recorded with a number of other artists, groups and compilations over the years. Currently, Karen is singing masked (due to COVID) with the praise team at Urban Village Church - Edgewater.
As an actor, she has experience acting in diverse roles for film, musical theater, plays, DVD, and online video (www.backstage.com/u/karenlyu) and Sharon Smith Talent was her agent in Nashville, TN. Her voiceover experience includes projects for Hyundai, Arirang TV, Atomy, and more. Also, Karen is a Macmillan Bard Audiobook Narrator. In Minneapolis, Karen was known for a number of one-woman shows and an original musical theater collaboration called "Memories and Media Myths of Iran and North Korea", sharing personal and cultural histories of courage and reconciliation with Persian-American vocalist, Maryam Yuzefzadeh. While in Minneapolis, she produced/hosted 2 well-received one-off radio shows: "West Bank School of Music Hall of Famers" and "Asian Women in Contemporary Music". In addition, as a director/producer/writer/actor, Karen, and her talented, international Jasmine Productions cast and crew, created a fun, inspiring and hilarious original dramedy short film: Stranger Angels.
From 2020-2021, Karen received $10,000 from a VERY SPECIAL arts patron. In 2010, she received a NashvilleMuse.com songwriting award and a MusiCares/Grammy Foundation emergency grant. In 2007, Karen won another 2 awards. A Minnesota State Arts Board cultural collaboration grant was given to Karen and to Maryam Yusefzadeh to create and produce an original musical called "Memories and Media Myths of Iran and North Korea" - which received a standing ovation. Also, in 2006, she received a nomination for Best Arts Article at the National Ethnic Media Awards, as an arts/features writer for Asian American Press newspaper in St. Paul, MN. In 1995, she won a Dayton's Department Store Emerging Artist Photography Grant.
WEST BANK SCHOOL OF MUSIC
In Minnesota, Karen became known for her 5 years at the historic West Bank School of Music as the head voice instructor, and for also becoming a board member, then board chair, then Executive Director. in 2004. At that time, there were 30 faculty members and over 500 music students a year. She was honored to serve as the Executive Director for 2 years and to help save the beloved, legendary community music school from closing.
KIDS / ENGLISH
As with adults, Karen loves to motivate kids with fun and growth, innovation and compassion! She earned TESOL certification with honors, and enjoyed 10 years as a part-time English teacher and tutor for all ages. She also has experience with 1 English camp in Malaysia and 2 in Korea, reading and math tutoring with ClubZ in TN for special needs kids for 2 years, as a musical director for 5 children's musicals in MN, as a choir director for 2 kids choirs - Academia Cesar Chavez + Children's Center Montessori in MN, as a SteppingStone Theater roster artist for Girl Scouts, Adventure Bay, Minneapolis Public Schools, and more, and also as an independent artist-in-residence and afterschool programs teacher for 3 Minneapolis Public Schools.
Also, Karen earned a Website Design Diploma from Hennepin Technical College and designed this website, as well as 20 others. Karen keeps up on all the latest trends for cool online tools and apps that may be helpful for her students and her business! Back in the 1990's, Karen actually did database design, graphic design, Macintosh repair, and more. She likes to be ahead of the curve, and has 14 years of experience voice coaching online ~ with Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, Messenger, KakaoTalk, Facetime, etc.