My music pulled me through
KAREN Louise admits that it was music that played a key role in helping her get through a depressing time . Now the 24-year-old and her songwriting partner Tom Gearing seem on the fast-track to success. After establishing themselves on the wedding circu
KAREN Louise admits that it was music that played a key role in helping her get through a "depressing time".
Now the 24-year-old and her songwriting partner Tom Gearing seem on the fast-track to success.
After establishing themselves on the wedding circuit, they are now eagerly awaiting the release of their debut single Lost in U.
But it could have been all so different for the talented singer, who fell into music as a way overcoming a debilitating illness.
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For five years Karen suffered from a viral condition believed to have been the chronic fatigue syndrome myalgic encephalomyelitis.
The illness was so bad that Karen admits "there were times I really thought my life was over".
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She said: "I contracted a form of glandular fever when I was about 14 and I don't think I ever really recovered.
"I was in a weird place and as a teenager I wasn't really sure what was going on. It was a very depressing time and the only thing that got me through was music."
Although she had always loved singing, Karen had never dreamed of appearances on Top of the Pops or harboured ambitions of Brit Awards. In fact, she always saw herself working in science or medicine.
"I was always active and did lots of sport, but because of the illness I had to give it up.
"But I didn't want to sit around depressed and feeling sorry for myself so I decided to have singing and piano lessons.
"As I got better I started doing more and more, and then I signed up to an agency, and that's how the wedding singing started.
"In a strange way, I'm actually quite grateful for the illness. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't be where I am today - who knows - I could have been the local GP!"
Her passion for songwriting gave her an escape from what seemed like an endless battle, and gave her inspiration to develop her writing and interest for music.
It was also at this time when she met songwriting partner Tom, who she has been working with for the last three years.
Talking about their partnership Karen said: "We work really well together and when you spend so much time together like we do, it's important that you get on. We are like family now - I'm Godparent to Tom's son Joshua."
The musical partnership started life on a mic and keyboard at Tom's Ashwell home. But since then they have recorded their debut album Bringing Me Home in the RAK studios in Abbey Road.
They worked there alongside producer Tommy D (Corinne Bailey-Rae and KT Tunstall) and writers Felix Howard and Sam Frank (Beverley Knight and Amy Winehouse) and Paul Simms (Sugababes).
Karen said: "When we first stepped into the studios it was daunting and you cannot help but think of the other artists that they have worked with. It was such a big moment for us - an unbelievable experience."
Tom said: "It was incredible working with people who have worked with artists like Elton John. To go in and play the piano in front of them was amazing."
Despite working with some of the best producers, and rubbing shoulders with a host of celebrities, Karen and Tom remain refreshingly level-headed.
Karen said: "Some people love the whole celebrity thing, however Tom and I are not really into that. We just want to concentrate on our music and work hard."
Tom added: "I think our attitude reflects our work as well. Whether you are performing in a pub, at a wedding or on stage, you always have to be focused."
Karen has been through a lot and after regaining her life she can look at her debut album Bringing Me Home to reflect on what she has been through.
"The album draws from good and bad experiences of my life, from the birth of my niece to the break up of my boyfriend. Every number is heartfelt and means a lot to me."
Tom said: "The album has a lot of ballads and mid tempo tracks. We wanted to match the music with the powerful lyrics, and the result is quite dramatic."
Tom is a classically trained musician, and alongside wife Pippa, runs the Ashwell Stage School, where they have already enrolled Karen's expertise in voice coaching and harmonising.
Karen said: "Working with the children is very grounding. The music industry can be crazy and at times surreal, so it's nice to work with the little ones.
"It's rewarding and hopefully I can carry on with it. In an ideal world I would like to have a helping hand in children's education as much as possible."
"When you are a musician all you can really do is hope that you can make a good living and maintain it. I think we are certainly talented enough but sometimes you need more than that.
"You need support and help from the people who have the power to do that."
- Lost in U is out on August 7 and the album Bringing Me Home is released in September.