In the summer of 1994 in Washington D.C., jazz vocalist Karen Francis was discovered by world renown jazz master (pianist, composer, record label executive, producer, and professor) Stanley Cowell.
Cowell, one of jazz music's most talented architects who, with Charles Tolliver in 1971, established and launched Strata-East Records, was hosting a party in his home one evening when he had occasion to be introduced to Francis by one of his students - William Knowles. A significant turn of events during the course of the evening revealed that Karen was a singer and Cowell invited her to sit in with him at an impromptu jam session.
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Karen Francis is a force of nature. She blows in like a gale-force wind on Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise, and barely slows down as she powerfully redefines jazz vocals with standards and originals. Better Days is one of the best vocal jazz albums released this year. Let us hope there are many more to come.
-C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
Think back to the early Capitol days of Nancy Wilson. Now imagine what would’ve happened if the purposefully buttoned-up Nancy had loosened her stays just a little. Result? Stanley Cowell protégé Karen Francis. That Francis sounds like the young Wilson is undeniable
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