A native of Cleveland, Tennessee, Karnes credits her mother Cleo German for nurturing her within the Gospel music legacy. Though Karnes has had been involved in church music all her life she has also spent 32 years of her life as a school teacher. However, a few years ago, she felt God's calling to step forward into the music ministry full-time. Thus, we have her brand new album "Faithful to the End." On this project, she has partnered with Roger Talley (of Talley Trio) as producer. The songs range from slow and pensive ballads to rousing Southern Gospel rattlers; from originals to some familiar tunes.
Hallels: Tell us a little about yourself. You were a school teacher for many years, how did you feel God's call to sing for Him?
Well, I'm married to my husband, John and we have two wonderful twin daughters, Anna and Kelsey. I am glad to say that I was raised in church and was literally there every time the door was open at our little church! I've actually had 2 callings on my life; Elementary Classroom Teacher and Singer of the Gospel. God has allowed me to live out both those callings simultaneously for last 32 years. I've always been extremely active in all our church music endevours and community wide music events. In retrospect, I can see God's shift in my spirit and life at year 27 of my teaching career. That "still small voice" was pursuing me to move forward into a deeper music commitment, one that I never dreamed would be available to me. He was closing the "teaching" door and opening the door to a music ministry for me.
Hallels: How did you get to meet Roger Talley and how did the album "Faithful to the End" come about?
My husband and I had met and talked with Debra, Lauren, and Roger at several gospel events. All of us live in the East Tennessee area and have much in common. I made the decision to enroll at the Steve Hurst School of Music, making sure to request both Debra and Lauren as vocal coaches. At the end of my vocal session with Debra, I asked her if she thought Roger might entertain the idea of producing a vocal project for me. She replied immediately, "Yes, here's his number, give him a call!" Lauren agreed to do some additional vocal work with me at my request because I knew her dad's reputation for being tough in the studio! Ha! The Talleys are a wonderful, talented family. I'm so proud of this project and so glad that we did this project together!
Hallels: You have a voice very similar to Karen Carpenter, when did you first discover that?
As a pre-teen in 1970 I first heard the song, "Close to You" the summer of 1970. I loved the song the first time I heard it and was so intrigued by Karen Carpenter's voice that I made a conscious effort to listen and learn all of her vocal techniques. At that time we had albums and I would "drop the needle" again and again, until I learned a song and then would move on to the next one! I learned so much from listening to her vocals and the vocal harmonies of the Carpenters. Those learning years created the foundation for my appreciation for great music.
Hallels: Was this why you decided to cover the Carpenters' "Bless the Beasts and the Children"? Have you considered doing a Carpenters' cover album?
I wanted this project "Faithful to the End" to have songs on them that would bring hope and encouragement and at the same time exude the joy that I have in The Lord. I relied on Roger and Lauren Talley (Alvey) heavily in choosing the right selection of songs. Lauren was very adamant that I should include a Karen Carpenter song and I always love singing them, so it seemed that a song of blessing would be perfect. I have 2 other projects that I recorded locally with my long time musical mentor, gospel pianist, Jack Clark. The first project is called, "Yesterday Once More" which includes ten Carpenter classics and the second project is called, "Only a Look".I would love to do a Volume 2 of Carpenter Classics though!
Hallels: I absolutely adore "Is It Any Wonder." For our readers who may not have heard it, tell us more about this song.
I first heard, "Is It Any Wonder" from Damarius Carbaugh who sang with Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I immediately fell in love with everything about that song. It speaks of God's amazing grace in such a beautiful way. The lyrics just speak volumes straight to your spirit and soul. I actually asked The Lord to equip me to sing that song without crying because I would get so emotional thinking about the lyrics. When I sing that song I always asked the congregation to join me in singing Amazing Grace afterwards. It opens up a wonderful time of praise and God is glorified!
Hallels: What's next on your agenda? Are you planning a follow-up album?
As far as agenda, I'm following the path and walking through the doors that God opens for me. I live in the East Tennessee region (near Chattanooga) and enjoy singing locally but would also enjoy "branching out" with my music. I just recently recorded a vocal for Jeff Stice's (former pianist for Triumphant Quartet) Christmas album called, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" which was a lot of fun. I love Jazz music and would love to record some songs with a jazz feel. I also enjoy background vocal work and welcome opportunities to do that more.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase "Faithful to the End" or/and find out more about you, where can they go?
I have a website: kathykarnesministries.com. My Facebook page is Kathy Karnes Ministries and Twitter is @KathyKarnes. This project can be downloaded or mailed to any interested in purchasing. I am available for booking on these sites also.