Karrin Allyson (pronounced /ˈkɑːrɪn/ KAR-in; born Karrin Allyson Schoonover on July 27, 1963) is an American jazz vocalist. She has been nominated for five Grammy Awards and has received positive reviews from several prominent sources, including the New York Times, which has called her a “singer with a feline touch and impeccable intonation.”
Karrin Allyson was born in Great Bend, Kansas; her father was a Lutheran minister and her mother was a psychotherapist, teacher, and classical pianist. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and spent her last year of high school in San Francisco. In her youth, she studied classical piano, sang at her local church and in musical theatre, and also began songwriting.
Allyson attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha on a classical piano scholarship; she majored in classical piano and minored in French. She was lead singer for an all-female rock band called Tomboy. She also developed an avid interest in jazz, performing both in a jazz swing choir in college and in her own jazz ensemble, which had gigs at venues in Omaha.
After graduating from college in 1986, Allyson moved to Minneapolis and concentrated on her jazz career. In 1990, she moved to Kansas City, where her career took off. In 1992 she recorded her debut album, I Didn’t Know About You, which was so well received it was re-released on Concord Records in 1993.She subsequently recorded eight more Concord-released albums in Kansas City. In 1998, she moved to New York City with her longtime partner, classical music radio host Bill McGlaughlin, whom she met in Kansas City in the early 1990s.
Allyson sings in English, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. The songs she performs are drawn from a variety of genres, including bossa nova, blues, bebop, samba, jazz standards, and other jazz modalities, and also ballads, pop standards, the Great American Songbook, soft rock, and folk rock. She has also recorded vocal performances of several instrumental jazz compositions, using both scat and vocalese techniques. She has recorded 12 original studio albums for the Concord Jazz label, and in 2009 she released a career-spanning “best of” collection. Her first all-original record, Some of that Sunshine, was released in August 2018 to rave reviews, with Jazz Times writing that “Allyson unleashes her equally impressive dexterity as a songwriter.”
Five of Allyson’s albums have received Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album: Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane (2001), Footprints (2006), Imagina: Songs of Brasil (2008), ‘Round Midnight (2011), and Many a New Day: Karrin Allyson Sings Rodgers & Hammerstein (2015)
1993 – Karrin Allyson – I Didn’t Know About You
1994 – Karrin Allyson – Sweet Home Cookin’
1995 – Karrin Allyson – Azure-Te
1996 – Karrin Allyson – Collage
1997 – Karrin Allyson – Daydream
1999 – Karrin Allyson – From Paris to Rio
2001 – Karrin Allyson – Ballads- Remembering John Coltrane
2002 – Karrin Allyson – In Blue
2004 – Karrin Allyson – Wild for You
2006 – Karrin Allyson – Footprints
2008 – Karrin Allyson – Imagina- Songs of Brasi
2009 – Karrin Allyson – By Request- The Very Best of Karrin Allyson
2011 – Karrin Allyson – ‘Round Midnight
2015 – Karrin Allyson – Many a New Day- Sings Rodgers & Hammerstein
2018 – Karrin Allyson – Some of That Sunshine