Oct 16, 2021 • 46M

At home with Karen Underwood

Karen Underwood's upcoming Jazz festival Opera House residency is her Black American Songbook Volume 2: songs that chart the course of her life through love, loss, adversity and survival.

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Appears in this episode

Ellie O'Byrne
Your weekly Saturday fix of culture in a mix of podcast and print format: music, books, art, theatre, dance, film and more.
Episode details

Karen Underwood. Photo: Mary Mcnally

Journey with soul singer Karen Underwood through a childhood that included incidents of racism, to arrival in Cork with a husband and two small children, to discovering her sexual identity with the woman who would become her wife, to why she never heard Nina Simone until she came to Ireland, to losing her son, struggling with grief, and finding new purpose.

This podcast episode is essential listening. Click play above.

Karen is such a fixture in Cork life that she is immortalised on one of Mad About Cork’s electricity boxes celebrating Cork dignitaries.

Electric Ladyland: Karen Underwood’s portrait opposite Cork Bus Station. Photo: Ellie O’Byrne

Now, she has her own weekend-long residency in the Green Room of Cork Opera House for the Jazz Festival, where she’ll be performing the Black American Songbook Volume 2, a selection of songs that take her back to her own childhood in Chicago.

Karen Underwood Presents The Black American Songbook is on in the Green Room of Cork Opera House on Friday 22 - Sunday 24 October as part of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. There are shows at 3pm and 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets and more info

In this podcast, Karen describes incidents of racism she has experienced, including language that listeners may find offensive.

The issue of suicide is discussed in this interview. If you or a loved one need assistance in relation to issues raised by this, Pieta House offers a 24-hour crisis helpline and text service on 1800 247 247 or text 51444.

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