Grammy-nominated musician set to peform at the Orpheum

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July 8th, 2011

Omaha, NE – A homegrown performer is coming to Omaha’s Riverfront Jazz and Blues Festival this weekend. Karrin Allyson was born in Kansas, and grew up in Omaha. Now a Grammy-nominated jazz musician, she began as a pianist, and a local rocker.

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“My first little gig was at the Howard Street Tavern at the jam session there,” Allyson said. “And the gentleman who owned M’s pub at the time heard me, and then I started to play at M’s pub.”

Karrin Allyson and guitarist Rod Fleeman. Allyson will perform with her jazz ensemble at the Omaha Riverfront Jazz and Blues Festival July 9. (Photo courtesy Karrin Allyson)

While juggling her act as the lead singer in her rock band Tomboy, Allyson was also being classically trained at the University of Nebraska Omaha, where she got to perform on what she said has always been her favorite instrument.

“What draws most people to the piano? It’s the most beautiful instrument in the world,” she laughed. “It’s a small orchestra, if you will. Classical piano was my first love, and that was my major at UNO. I learned a lot there, and eventually a little bit in jazz too.”

Allyson now lives in New York City, and has recorded 13 albums, including Ballads, a tribute to John Coltrane. Throughout her career, Allyson said, she’s brought varied influences and styles together. She finds jazz to be the genre that encompasses all her interests.

“The reason I chose jazz is because if feels like it has all those possibilities in it,” she said. “You can take any kind of tune and put it in a jazz format.”

Allyson will join her jazz ensemble on stage Saturday night at the Omaha Riverfront Jazz and Blues Festival, which will now be hosted indoors at the Orpheum Theater.

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