An expressive jazz vocalist, Karrin Allyson has earned accolades for her lyrical balladry and adept skill at interpreting instrumental jazz songs with her lithe vocalese technique. Emerging in Kansas City in the '90s, Allyson rose to prominence singing standards and bossa nova songs, as well as more contemporary pop covers by artists like Randy Newman, Janis Ian, and James Taylor. Widely recognized as one of the most gifted jazz singers of her generation, she has picked up numerous Grammy nominations, including earning Best Jazz Vocal Album nods for 2001's Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane and 2011's 'Round Midnight.
Born in Great Bend, Kansas, Allyson grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and the San Francisco Bay Area — during which time she began taking classical piano lessons in addition to performing as a folksinger and in an all-female rock band, Tomboy. Upon graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1987 (and receiving a degree in piano), Allyson sang regularly at her uncle's nightclub in Kansas City, a locale she decided to settle down in and call her permanent home base. Signed to the Concord Jazz label, in 1992 Allyson issued her debut, I Didn't Know About You, which led to such accolades as being name-checked in Playboy's annual readers' poll alongside such greats as Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn. Subsequently, Allyson assembled a fine backing band consisting of fellow Kansas City musicians — pianist Paul Smith, guitarists Danny Embrey and Rod Fleeman, bassist Bob Bowman, and drummer Todd Strait — who have played on the majority of her recordings.