Who in the world is KAREN HARVEY? (Karen Jean Wentworh Harvey)
1 IN A NUTSHELL
2 TRANSFORMATIVE MUSIC
3 ALBUMS, and Musical Theatre projects
4 WOLFORD and HARVEY STUDIOS/ MUSART PROJECT
5 The MAGIC in the music and art
6 KAREN'S MUSIC & NATIVE AMERICAN/ENVIRONMENTAL POLITCS
7 PERSONAL HISTORY and EARLY INFLUENCES
IN A NUTSHELL
Karen is a singer-songwriter, visual artist and environmental/peace activist. Sometimes a humorist and always a creative deep thinker. Her artistic expressions ring as a resonant VOICE in these pivotal TIMES of CHANGE
K. Harvey plays synthesized keyboard and acoustic/electric guitar. She sings the "simple country-folk-rock" way, laser-direct from the heart. Her music is uncomplicated on the surface, yet most compelling.
Harvey's songs are melodic, and occasionally embellished with mysterious "sonic happenings" from the 'natural-world'. Her lyrics are artful and relevant, presenting tans-formative possibilities.
Karen's range of style and genre trend from synthesized-rock and classical derivatives to folk-rock, country-pop, folk blues, honky-tonk and boogie-woogie, also sonic landscapes and inspirational. Her 'synthesized' musical: "Lady of the Rose--a Musical Odyssey" will be released in 2013. The music travels from a sonic big bang up into the future--additionally including choirs (a 'boys' and men's), heavy rock and huntingly beautiful transcendent numbers as in the "Cave Procession".
In Karen's words--"transformative music is music that has a potential to influence or change our person and greater world for the better--that covers lot of music"!
I believe that in a social spectrum where ideas and feelings can become fists, knives, guns and bombs, it important to try to identify and understand the positive and negative forces which rule our inner and outer worlds.
Many songs found in my album "Flambeau Fire--Politically Hot", and in the musical works of "Lady of the Rose--a Musical Odyssey" are celebrations and explorations of the 'light' and 'dark'. For me these works are positively transformative. They come out of growing-pains and a desire to understand, and overcome adversity. They stretch the imagination and reach for higher places. I have a stong desire to use my music for good.
Cosmology tells us that we are all resonators. There is a threshold of evidence, telling us that our thoughts resonate and create our realities--they become words and actions--turning into personal and collective global relationships, accomplishments and failures. I hope my songs will resonate to help gel peaceful commeradity, solidarity, and celebration
--that they will ultimately help sing the beauty and joy of life's "being".
Karen's debut album,"FLAMBEAU FIRE--Politically Hot", features 14 songs from her double-disk CD song book collection entitled,"FLAMBEAU FIRE--Songs for a New Millennium"(to be released).
COMING SOON: a country-folk-rock album entitled "Country Optons", and the eclectic 'musical Odyssey', "LADY of the ROSE". Nearly twelve years in the making, this epic work is nearing completion. It includes 17 keyboard compositions and is awaiting orchestration, choreography and stage design.
WOLFORD and HARVEY STUDIOS--the Story:
Wolford and Harvey Studios have been an on going venture. Merle Wolford, Karen's late studio partner, was a gifted Dutch-Native American author, songwriter, artist/mystic and psychotherapist. Today Harvey continues her creative pursuits at the same studios located in central Wisconsin with her companion, and cinnamon-husky-dog "PI". She is now in the process of launching Musart Project LLC, an online fundraising enterprise (www.musartproject.com)---for the benifit of individuals and commutities, and to help the support education, the arts, and the environment.
In the '80s Wolford and Harvey concentrated on the remodeling and construction of a farm-studio-foundry complex for painting, ceramics, sculpture and music. They began exhibiting their art in 1988.
During the '90's Karen and Merle became highly visable activists in Wisconsin's notorious environmental/political struggle surrounding nuclear dumping, mining and Wisconsin-Native-American treaty rights.
In 1999 they relocated to Arizona's high desert country. They returned in 2001 to rejoin families and to continue to focus on their music, writings, and computer graphics and painting.
THE MAGIC ...
Karen had several solo museum shows entitled "Spirit Forms of an Island which featured her sculpture and photography (surreal close-up water shots from enchanted shoals of Lake Superior's Apostle Islands). These mysterious photos revealed subliminal animal and human forms---'frozen in time' in the icy waters of lake.
Synchronistic things have happened in Karen's MUSIC as in her visual art. 'Sound-forms' appear in the recordings that were not intended. Examples include: 1) the train coupling-sound and 2) the faint bell in the song "Peace Train", 3)the phantom drum roll in "Giant Killing Machines",4) the sound of clinking chains and cash register in "No More Killin' Fields". 5) Also the haunting 'phantom-male chorus' in "The Will to Power", 6) the groan at the end of "Once a Night", and 7) the uncanny 'ghost voice' preceding "Ghost Town Miners Blues".
During one recording session, a flock of geese flew by Karen's bay window; she discovered that the whoosh of their wings had impressed itself into the recording--"Geese Flew in the Sky! She also discovered that songbirds outside her studio had sung just at the right moments during other recording sessions.
In Karen's words, "I never cease to be amazed. I believe in magic! Life is magic!! I believe that nature is communicating with everything and everyone all the time. All we have do is 'open up' to see, feel, hear--to realize the great gift of cosmic reality--the elegant beauty of inter-connectedness, our "spiritual 'world being'".
Karen wrote her first song in the 70's. She credits this beginning to a boyfriend, singer-songwriter, Brad Mac Intyre--he said, "you can do it"! (He also said his sister was a country singer . . .Reba?)
MUSIC, POLITICS and INDIANS:
Karen wrote her first political/environmental-activist song in the early 90's in response to what she and many saw as an outright attack on Wisconsin Native Americans, and the north woods environment by foreign/multinational mining, paper and energy industries. These companies greased the skids of Wisconsin's state legislature, and corrupted local governments and Wisconsin's protective environmental laws and regulations. At the same time, they stirred civil unrest in order to disenfranchise Natives of their treaty rights. Why? The treaties stood to protect Wisconsin's northern territories, its minerals and the life sustaining resources of air, soil, water, forests, plants and animals. The treaties were a block to unbriddled, exploitation. They stand today.
Karen first became an activist after a photo trip to one of Lake Superior's remote Apostle Islands. There on a trail, she unwittingly (and synchronisticly) picked up someone's discarded "NO NUKES" tee shirt. Unpon returning to the mainland, she walked into a small Bayfield curio shop. There she met Walt Bressette, Bayfield's legendary Native American--green activist/organizer, author, speaker/moderator, artist and gallery-book-shop keeper, and radio jocky. She asked the question: "What can I do to help preserve this beauty?" Walt told her to join the Greens. She did, and soon became part of a great "Midwest Treaty Network"--a coalition of environmentalists, peace & justice activists, sportsmen and and Native Americans who faced an onslaught of predatory mining and timber/paper-pulp
This 'green' coalition trained and gathered in solidarity as "Witness for Nonviolence". They stood through long nights at Wisconsin's north woods boat landings with members of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwa and other Native American tribal bands, as a shield for native braves exercising their fish-spearing rights by boat and flashlight. Traditionally spearing was done by canoe and torch, hence the name "Flambeau".
Native American ceremonies, songs and drums gave strength and cohesion to the resistance, buffering and transcending the hate and violence projected toward the Ojibwa natives.
"One of the most memorable nights", Karen recalls, was preceded by a large gathering where she sang her new song, "PEACE TRAIN", to a tense witness group awaiting the signal to leave the reservation for the boat landings at Butternut Lake. Some 400 AIM members, (American Indian Movement) were on their way--caravaning down from Minnesota to join the witness gathering to hold the line against a rabid orange army that had been amassed to heckle and stop the spearers. Karen's song, "THE BUTTERNUT BASH" commemorates that night, and the struggle's final triumph of peace, love and reason. The Butternut ballad would later win cheers and applause at the West Virginia National Greens conference.
During this period, Karen's voice could be heard on panels, and at street theatre, rallies, and marches. She authored, and gave testimonies. She joined in celebrations, Protect the Earth Festivals, and serious meetings & gatherings on and off reservation. Karen was invited to perform with her guitar at political events, green gatherings and fundraisers, including the rally for Tom Maulson's election to the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Chairmanship.
Later during this period, Karen was again on front lines with voice and guitar doing tangent battles against mining and nuclear dumping in Wisconsin (These are intrinsically related in Wisconsin). She organized the Chernobyl Action Coalition, which advanced testimonies and organized a tri-state "Nuclear Free SUNDAY" educational-rally-event, near the Point Beech reactor/dump site. Karen gave a solar-wind-powered performance with folk band "Northern Light" at this Nuclear Free "Sunday" event.
This Event was in response to Ralph Nader's call for clean safe, alternative energy, and to the anniversary of the great Russian Chernobyl nuclear disaster...(which was quite possibly the least recognized, yet most powerful influence in the collapse of the Soviet Union).
The Chernobyl Action Coalition included the UPPER GREAT LAKES GREEN NETWORK, a GreenPEACE caravan & petition drive, speakers from the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Indiginous Environmental Network (EIN). The music and event drew the media. The event had the support of citizens and organizations from small and large communities and colleges across the state. There was a march, kite flying, and high drama--with a 'wild cow' crashing into a nuclear barrel which an alein sat on.
It all ended quite peaceably with a nuclear transport-vehicle spill, a "white-suited-team" sweep-up, and a mass "die-in"... this before the eyes of plant managers, and the site of their proposed nuclear waste "storage facility"/dump. Fortunately speeches had been previously given and he fallen did come back to life,(with fists like flowers, slowly rising from the ground). The ralliers scrolled 'engergy message' was handed over to the plant leadership, in turn presented a light bulb. Fortunately indeed, the entire "Sunday" event was anchored by music, group singing and spiritual leaders; it ended with good food and water--and no spill into Lake Michigan.
PERSONAL HISTORY and early INFLUENCES
Karen JW Harvey was born of two gifted artists in Appleton Wisconsin, USA. Her mother Charlotte Wentworth, of Norwegian/English descent, was a WWII 'draftsman', saleswoman and an accomplished painter, pianist and violinist. Karen's father Ronald, of English/German descent, is a veteran, self-taught mechanical engineer, fine wood worker and painter, and restorer/flyer of antique planes.
Karen was an extraordinarily inquisitive child. Enamoured by the beauty and sounds of the natural world, she sought to understand the world around her. Raised on nursery rhymes her Mothers great love, she grew strong and bold and dared to venture out, collecting iridescent bugs and butterflies, moths, stones, fossils and anything that caught her fancy, often to her mothers chagrin. Karen had fun too, making quacking sounds and whistles with grass reeds.
Being the eldest of four, Karen was given three years of piano lessons. She quit at ten to travel out West with her grandmother. She joined the Jr. high school orchestra and played first chair violin with her father's new hand carved "masterpiece".
The family moved to a hobby farm near Black Otter Lake outside of Hortonville, a small Wisconsin mill town. Karen joined the high school choir and ordered a Montgomery Ward guitar and instruction books. Self-taught, she performed with a homespun high school folk singing group.
In college, Karen studied physical education, biology and art. She regularly did the hootenannies. Her guitar went wherever she went.
Karen married briefly after college and taught physical education, modern dance and health. She divorced, and remarried. Disappointed in love and marriage, Karen went back to school and put her energies into creative arts. She spent weeks on the Apostle Islands, where her music became influenced by the wild sights and sounds of the Lake Superior inland sea--the wind and water blowing in sea caves, splashing shoreline rhythms, and every sort of plant and creature sound. She became a crow-calling woman.
The United States, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Ecuador and Galapagos Islands.