In my stagecraft, my aim has been radical authenticity.
As stage artist, I’m willing to make myself vulnerable and show what’s possible using the tools I’ve collected from vocal studies, the theater, countless stage outings and most keenly from life to inform my every gesture, glance and movement.
I traffic in the art of nuance. I use my body to channel air through space, my mind to communicate what someone has composed lyrically and musically, and my spirit to set it free. I like to chuckle, choke, whisper, sigh, growl, breathe and moan. I like to sit, stand, bend, twist, and face the audience with my back.
I’m a painter, a scene-maker. My audience sees a scene unfold through me, sees me open and reach into my heart. Using a singing voice as well as “Sprechstimme,” (a speaking voice), I turn songs into “un drame condense,” a mini-drama. Drawn to a song first by words and then by melody, and using a broad palette of expressions, I seek to bring color to my material and to illuminate my subject, the atmosphere and the age.
I’m a choreographer. I use gesture to accentuate an idea, a line or a word. My sensuality is expressed gesturally. I’m a masquerader – I love to dress the part. I’m also an exhibitionist; the most essential Karen Kohler exists before a receptive and open audience.
I’m a preservationist. From the moment I came upon the songs of early 20th century Europe – inventive, fresh, daring, lyrical, ironic, dark, sexy – I was hooked. I became committed to the preservation of this music, to the authentic re-interpretation of these lyrics, in my own time.
I’m a passionate singer of the Zeitgeist. We are alive in an extraordinary time and our music is both messenger and bridge. Born in Germany and raised in the U.S., I have made my own journey across time and place, as have my songs.
Lastly, and firstly, my personal life informs my stage life which in turn informs my personal life and again my stage life and so they feed and extinguish each other in timeless fashion. Now after a lifetime of singing others’ lyrics, I’ve begun to sing my own.