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Karrin Allyson Sings For Kansas City

Way back in the 1930s, Kansas City was the home base of the original Count Basie Orchestra, Jimmy "Mr. 5 x 5" Rushing, and boogie-woogie pianist Jay McShann, to name only three. The city jumped with jazz and openly operated speakeasies in the Prohibition era. Talented young musicians — often blues musicians — streamed from the rural South to 18th and Vine, where the modern American Jazz Museum stands today. Up the hill, you can see their smiling faces by the hundreds in photos on the walls of the historic Musicians Mutual Foundation (originally the Musicians Union for African-American Players).

Kansas City has worked hard to preserve this history, saving its music theaters and supporting neighborhood clubs, as well as nurturing generations of players who are proud to call the city home today.

Born in Great Bend, Kan., Karrin Allyson grew up in Nebraska and went to college in Minnesota. Then she moved to Kansas City and happily spent the '90s singing and playing piano almost every night — sometimes twice a night — at the Phoenix, Jardine's, the City Light jazz club, and other cozy spots. In 1992, with a local group, she made her first CD.

Allyson has come a long way since then: Her 2006 CD, Follow the Footprints, earned Allyson her second Grammy nomination. Her latest is Imagina: Songs of Brasil. She calls all eleven albums her babies, each one a true individual.

Kansas City-based personnel continue to play in her band today, and perform with her in this New Year's Eve 2006 concert at the city's Repertory Theater.


Produced in association with KCUR/Kansas City, program director Bill Anderson. Field producer Dayna Calderon, stage manager Meredith Ries, and music mixer Timothy Powell of Metro Mobile, with assistant Michael Ways, all from Chicago.

Copyright 2008 WBGO