The Great Big Art of the Small
Karen Kohler has been performing in rooms worldwide for over 20 years. As soloist, collaborator and ensemble leader, she crossbreeds a range of musical and theatrical influences – everything from jazz, blues, classical, folk-rock, cabaret and chanson.
Since 1995, Karen has also been an acknowledged exponent and historian of 20th century European roots cabaret and Kleinkunst. Yet her identification as a cabaret singer outside of known cabaret hubs like New York, London, Paris and Berlin has often drawn blanks or comments like “You do burlesque!”, “You’re a lounge act!”, “You’re a show girl!”, “You’re a shantuce!”
In 2019, at the end of a break she took from the active performing life, Karen returned with a new music label and on-line channel for the intimate arts, Ars Intima, two new solo projects, and a new genre for the intimate performance art she makes that she calls ROOM.
In this discussion, Karen opens up about the nature of her songs, how they reveal the soul of a story, a person, a character and Karen herself. She explains how she landed on the name quite naturally. Rooms are where her eclectic range of songs have succeeded most as has the level of intimate connection she endeavors to cultivate with her audience and on-stage collaborators. “Delivering a show-stopping interpretation of an American or European standard in a large concert hall is a thrilling experience, “she notes. On the whole though, spaces with 500- to 5000-person capacities easily overpower the nuance, urgency, subtle humor and details of her silhouette and gesture that make her interpretations memorable. “Size matters,” says Karen. “Bigger is not better when it comes to this type of performance art where music, movement, theater and poetry meet.” Words and melodies come from all over the world. They are timeless, era-less, gender-less, genre-less. The room’s the thing. Camera, chambre, cuarto, Kammer, kamer, sala, salon, Zimmer. ROOM. Read more about it on her Singing page.
(Length: 2 hrs. with optional live performance component.)