Reynolds raises the bar for local talent

She’s a singer. She’s a songwriter. She’s a businesswoman. She’s a teacher and mentor. She’s a producer, vocalist, publicist, and promoter. She’s even a radio host. She’s an American, a real person, and someone’s life partner.

Karen E. Reynolds is raising the bar for gays and lesbians across the country as she serves up songs of advice on life, love and the ever-popular pursuit of happiness.

Reynolds is a unique woman with a perspective that packs a punch. She’s not particularly into labels – other then record labels, that is – and identifies herself first and foremost as an artist.

"I’m who I am, wherever I am. I’m just me, and that’s across the board. Artists are there to promote thought because that’s what real art does – [it] promotes thinking. Creation itself promotes real thinking. Look around. ‘Lesbian’ is not definitive of who I am. I am so much more," Reynolds said in a recent interview.

"I choose to treat people with respect and tolerance as a child of God. I need to be the best child of God I can be and use the talent I have been blessed with for good," she said.

Reynolds is doing just that through "Writers Block," her public radio program showcasing independent artists. In addition, she teaches songwriting and music business for the University of Tennessee, owns and operates SoundAdvice, an artist’s services agency, and still finds time to perform and tour.

"Wearing so many ball caps may seem like a real success in life, but my greatest success has been the amazing relationship I have with my partner," Reynolds said. "It’s been 25 years of joy and tenderness and has molded me as an artist and as a person."

Meeting her partner is where Reynolds says her life really began. "I was in a band in junior high, and we were practicing in the gymnasium when she walked through the door. I instantly knew that we would be very important to one another."

"We held the hearts and minds of all our loyal fans," Reynolds says with a big laugh referring to the nameless band of her younger days.

Reynolds has remained true to her East Tennessee roots and seeks to find happiness in a simple life filled with things and people she loves.

"I’ve never been one to push for fame. Even now, fame is not my goal. I have always been unconsciously driven as an artist to create. If one audience member can identify with what I am singing or something I have created, I know that I have made a difference, and that is my goal. I want to speak to people on a deeper level, and I can do that through my music, but I also try to do that in everything else I do. I know that if I short-change anyone I have short-changed myself. People deserve 150 percent and that’s how I go at it."

Reynolds says her lyrics cut directly to the chase of emotion for all people regardless of their sexuality or background. "People are just people. We all have woeful tales. We all have heartbreaks, laughter, sweet memories of Mama, and prayers for Jesus. That’s what I sing and write about – being human."

Reynolds has a southern-tinged voice that knows when to be tender and when to be tough.

"Don’t get me wrong. I can whip up some attitude when I need to, and I’m not afraid to make a stand. I just believe in being humble and respectful, both lessons my mother and Jesus have taught me."

Reynolds says she grew up in a musical family and a house brimming over with love. "I am blessed in that. My inspiration was born in East Tennessee, and it just seems natural to be here. I tell people to write what you know, and I know these mountains and hills and these people who are trying to embrace one another."

Reynolds has had several jobs over the course of her "starving artist career" including being a corporate accountant. "I have always known that music was my passion, and to do it well and with integrity I would have to make a career of it. You have to weigh what you will have to sacrifice against what you will gain. I gained being true to myself, and it’s been worth all the sacrifice," she reflects.

Reynolds says she can tap into inspiration, and her knack for phrase and melody has fueled her music career.

"Inspiration starts at home. I want to do what I can do to better Knoxville and myself, and in return I think that will better America. I always say that as a community we need to ignite little mini-revolutions in people, and that signifies progress for this country as a whole. I am an American, and I want the best America possible," asserts the patriotic Reynolds.

Whipping up some attitude, Reynolds is quick to say that "the government in this country is trying to legislate morality and that’s appalling. The blatant selective memory of government to act as though this country was not created by a collection of different persons angers me. We are a unique collection of treasures here in America and refusing to recognize and repressing that will be the downfall of this great country."

Reynolds is not going to stand by and let that happen. By penning ballots such as "Read the Book" with lyrics like "tolerance is a blessing so fall to your knees, you were made in God’s image just like me," she intends to keep on being herself and singing about it.

For more information about Karen or to order her music visit or

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