World Famous Violinist
Karen Briggs’s near four decade span through genres as a violinist includes an eclectic range of Orchestral, Gospel, R&B, Latin, New Age, Rock, Hip Hop and several Jazz styles. All mostly linked by improvisation and embellishment, her audio visual signature has become popular and sought after for a variety of live events and recorded projects…
Karen Briggs’s near four decade span through genres as a violinist includes an eclectic range of Orchestral, Gospel, R&B, Latin, New Age, Rock, Hip Hop and several Jazz styles.
All mostly linked by improvisation and embellishment, her audio visual signature has become popular and sought after for a variety of live events and recorded projects both domestic and international. Karen appears as a feature in twelve music video concerts, hundreds of recordings and has recorded four solo projects.
With her combined experiences, Karen continues to develop original music while seeking continued expansion and development of the contemporary violin sound.
Karen has also conducted improvisational violin workshops as an artist-in-residency at: Berklee Music College, The Kennedy Center and The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. In an effort to encourage the evolution of the instrument’s use in contemporary music and advocating the preservation of music in American public schools, Karen has been an inspiration to many.
Karen was born in New York in 1963. After her family’s relocation to Portsmouth, Virginia she started learning violin at age eleven at junior high school. With strong family music influences, Karen began to experiment with the violin outside of it’s traditional expectations and quickly caught-on locally as a unique feature talent at weddings, jazz and church concerts. She was even featured with the marching band at half-time for a Norfolk State University’s homecoming game. This took place while she was also performing with The Virginia Symphony and a full-time, Music Media major.
Validated and inspired by the knowledge of a few violinists who, performed non-traditional violin styles, (Noel Pointer, Jean Luc Ponty and Dr. Roland Sunkins, a local area improviser on violin) Karen performed at local jam sessions learning more about improvising while continuing to study classical techniques.
After a four-time winning streak on “Amateur Night at the Apollo”, she moved to Los Angeles where she investigated the local Latin music scene for several years. In 1990, she landed her first major tour with British based R&B sensation,
“Soul ll Soul”, a show that uniquely included a trio of dancing violinists.
The following year, Karen auditioned for the Yanni string band. Now often referred to as “the lady in red”, Karen Briggs’ fiery violin solos have been seen literally by millions internationally. In fact, the PBS special of “Yanni: Live at the Acropolis” has been broadcasted in 65 countries, viewed by over 500 million people, and is the second best-selling music video of all time behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Karen is the first African American Violinist to have ever performed at The Herodian Theater, The Taj Mahal, Agra, India and the Forbidden City in China and had the distinguished honor of being included in “The History Maker’s” roster.
From there, performance opportunities became more prestigious and frequent. While accompanied by pianist/composer Dave Grusin, Karen represented jazz violin for a NYC string program benefit fundraising event hosted by Itzhak Perlman and Isaac Stern, marking her feature debut at Carnegie Hall. A cameo appearance in the resulting family movie classic entitled, “Music of the Heart” represents Karen among the top violinists in the world.
Original “Return-To-Forever” members, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White assembled a group-titled, jazz-rock project called “Vertu”, earning Karen even more respect in the jazz-fusion genre. Soon after, an invite from Diana Ross came with an opportunity to record and to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show as a feature.
Briggs’ musical expression is featured in successful hip hop releases such as “Reunited” by Rza & Wu Tang Clan and Hidden Beach’s Unwrapped series Vol. 1-5, of which her rendition of “Gangsta’s Paradise” continues to command standing ovations. 2014 was a multi-award winning year for Karen as she has been acknowledged by the Jazz Legacy Foundation, Inc. for her outstanding achievements in Jazz. She was also acknowledged by Portsmouth Public Schools as a distinguished graduate. Kenneth I Wright, Mayor of Portsmouth, officially proclaimed November 15th as “Karen Briggs Appreciation Day”!
Karen endorses Yamaha Strings’ Silent Electric Violin and there’s much more, but in closing, it was an impressed musician who posted that “a Karen Briggs performance should be on everyone’s list of things to do before they die…”
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
An Evening With Karen Briggs
Karen Briggs Dave Koz Cruise
Karen Briggs violin rendition of Lift Every Voice at West Angeles Church
1 HOUR OR LESS