“Telling the story, both musically and lyrically, is what I find most exciting and galvanizing as a performer," Karen Oberlin was quoted saying in an interview. Hailed as one of premier interpreters of the Great American Songbook by both the New York Times and London’s Classical Source, Oberlin was deeply honored to receive, in 2013, both the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s most prestigious Donald F. Smith Award and an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Dix Hills Performing Arts Center/Five Towns College. Previously a winner of Nightlife Award for Jazz Vocalist of the Year and also Bistro and MAC Awards, Karen Oberlin returns to London’s most exquisite cabaret club, the Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel, for her third consecutive year in late 2014. In one of her numerous raves in the New York Times, Stephen Holden said, “Beyond having a pretty voice, poise and interpretive insight… Ms. Oberlin has impeccable classic pop style (and) musical intelligence.” Rex Reed, in the New York Observer, called her performance “thrilling,” and continued, “Oberlin is as lovely to look at as she is to hear -- subtle, elegant and musically spot on. She’s a keeper!” The music critic for The Nation, David Yaffe, says Ms. Oberlin “reaches into the minds and muses of our golden repertoire to teach us, dazzle us, and send us to a Tin Pan Alley nirvana, as deep as the ocean and high as the sky. She is truly a marvel.”
Along with three weeks at the legendary Oak Room at the Algonquin, Oberlin has had headlining nightclub engagements at clubs such as the Café Carlyle, 54 Below, Birdland, Feinstein’s, Iridium, Kitano and the Metropolitan Room and has performed in concert halls in New York including Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Town Hall. Nationally, she has performed at Caramoor, Guild Hall in the Hamptons, The Ordway Theatre in St. Paul, The Prince Theatre in Philadelphia, and the Royal Room at the Colony Palm Beach, to name a few. She has four critically-acclaimed recordings on the Miranda Music label, including “Secret Love: The Music of Doris Day,” a live recording at the Algonquin's Oak Room, and a new duo CD with virtuosic guitarist Sean Harkness. She can be heard on a number of compilations, including the newly discovered musical by Duke Ellington and Herb Martin, "Renaissance Man," in the all-star CD version, "Secret Ellington" (True Life), which featured Joe Lovano, Grover Washington, Jr., and Freddy Cole, among others.
Ms. Oberlin appeared in more than 100 Off-Broadway performances of the smash-hit show "Our Sinatra,” and has performed her own shows nationally and abroad. She had the honor of being part of the first-ever Cabaret Conventions in both Philadelphia and the Hamptons and has performed in the New York shows at both Jazz at Lincoln Center and at The Town Hall, where she was also featured in the Broadway By The Year series. Along with playing Maureen in the first staged incarnation of the now-legendary Broadway show, “Rent,” Ms. Oberlin has also held lead roles at such prestigious theatres as the North Carolina Theatre, the Palace Theatre in Louisville, among others. She has appeared as a professional actress in everything from Shakespeare to national commercials, including playing a recurring nurse on “All My Children” and can been seen in both independent and feature films. She also enjoyed being part of a professional a cappella group called "Where’s The Band?" for many years.
Ms. Oberlin has a deep background in classical music, jazz, cabaret, theater and musical theater. The granddaughter of Vaudevillians and the youngest daughter of two classical musicians, she performed steadily as a child in theater, musical and otherwise, growing up in Central New York. As a child she played piano and flute, and cello in the county orchestra, performed in her first role on stage in an opera at age six, and as a teen was a member of a few local rock and new-wave bands. Since then she has performed continuously and trained extensively, graduating from the Circle In The Square Professional Workshop Broadway theatre conservatory in New York after receiving her B.A. in English Literature. New York City led Ms. Oberlin to cabaret and jazz and deepened her appreciation for the Great American Songbook and great songs of all kinds. She has studied voice for more than twenty years, and she teaches master classes in acting, singing and interpreting song, and has mentored and directed a number of aspiring song interpreters, as she is deeply committed to the future of the art of song interpretation. Ms. Oberlin is a dedicated yogi, a very happy mother (to Nate Hajdu) and stepmother, and is married to the writer and Columbia University professor David Hajdu.