Born and raised in Southern New Hampshire, I was submersed in classic country and gospel music from an early age. My father played drums, bass, and guitar in local country bands. He started teaching me chords on the guitar when I was teenager, but I didn’t start playing and singing regularly until I was in my twenties. I’ve always connected to country, gospel, and southern rock music. I’m a sucker for the tear-jerker, broken love, lonesome train songs.
I started writing songs in my mid-twenties, but never shared them with anyone except close family and friends. In 2003, I joined an acoustic band, the Prospect Hill Band, with a couple of good friends and really started gaining confidence in front of crowds. I continued to play local pubs and private functions with the band and as a solo act until 2011, when I met my manager and friend, Ann Greco, who gave me the wonderful opportunity to record my self- titled debut album, Karen Bays.
I began recording my album with producer Brian Coombes at Rocking Horse Studio in Pittsfield, New Hampshire in September 2011. Backed by a group of
professional, session musicians, ten songs were recorded ranging from classic country numbers such as Patsy Cline's "Leaving On Your Mind” to my own original compositions. One of these songs, “A Life Without You,” has special meaning for me. I wrote that song after my ex-husband committed suicide. Although we divorced when our son was little, we remained really good friends through the years, raising our son in two separate families but working well together. It just devastated our families, especially our son. I could not wrap my head around such a thing..this successful, charming, devilishly handsome, fun-loving man that I had known and loved since we were 16 years old was gone by his own hand. Every day was a giant struggle so I started writing down what was haunting my mind. It was the only way that seemed to help me voice my feelings and try to move through the grieving process. Trying to sing it in the studio proved very emotional. Everyone says they hear the deep sadness in my voice on that song, and I was really just trying to sing it without falling apart. It was so difficult emotionally but what surprised me was I really felt that a part of me HEALED in the process. What the band fellas did to bring that song to life is nothing short of spectacular in my mind. They really gave it the feeling, through the instrumentation, that I NEEDED. They should probably bill me for some therapy session hours.
Another song on the album that holds special meaning to me is “Life Amazes Me,” written by my manager and friend, Ann Greco. The song has such an uplifting message. It’s about embracing the good in life and knowing that things do get better. There is always hope for wonderful things and a strength in friendships formed. Never give up believing in the goodness that surrounds us every day. I am forever thankful for the special people in my life.
“Loving A Lie” is a song that I wrote from the perspective of a woman in love with a man that she knows is not being faithful. You can’t have a country album without a cheatin’ song. I would say the majority of us, men and women, have been cheated on at one point in our lives. This song is about holding on with all you’ve got because you just don’t want to lose the love that you had. All people make mistakes. It doesn’t make it acceptable but I think, sometimes, people do recover from infidelity and the power of forgiveness can be such a cleansing experience – allowing a stronger relationship to be built.