"Keri Johnsrud is largely about finding the unexpected in the familiar. The bright shimmer of her voice, a crystalline instrument of deceptive simple beauty, defies the depth of her artistry." - JazzTimes
"...there was no mistaking the warmth of her instrument, the radiance of her tone or the buoyancy of her approach to swing rhythm." - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
Keri is a highly appealing jazz singer with a quietly expressive voice and a deep understanding of the lyrics that she interprets. She has been an important part of the Chicago jazz scene for over 15 years with headlining appearances at Chicago's top venues, including the historic Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, and Winter’s Jazz Club. Keri’s work is not limited to performing in Chicago, however. Through regular touring throughout the Midwest and East Coast, Keri has developed a significant fanbase and particularly draws a large turnout in her native Iowa. She also has a strong following in New York City, performing in venues such as The Kitano, Cornelia Street Cafe, and weekly/monthly residencies at The Flat Iron Room, and Tomi Jazz. Johnsrud is not only a skilled interpreter of the American Songbook, she is also a highly talented lyricist and composer. Her critically acclaimed 2015 recording, “This Side of Morning,” consists entirely of her original tunes and was featured in the independent film “Thank You a Lot.”
For her latest record, Keri collaborated with GRAMMY nominated pianist Kevin Bales to release Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers, which has been selected as a Top 10 Jazz Album of 2018 by the esteemed jazz publication Cadence Magazine. Johnsrud and Bales have succeeded in reimagining and rearranging the music that has been heard by numerous generations on the beloved children’s television program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The songs, which up until now were specifically tailored for a child’s ear, are now presented as reinvented gems that are wise and wistful, simple but not simplistic, and even, in some cases, a bit sultry. In this collection, Mister Rogers’ songs not only relate to adults; they seem to have been written for adults in the first place.
Johnsrud credits the quality of Rogers’ writing for smoothing the way on this album. “He’s certainly very underrated as a composer,” she says, adding that the success of these “translations” from kidspeak to adulthood owes to that. And if you never heard these songs the first time around, or never spent time with Mister Rogers? “It helps to know this person as a very genteel human being,” she allows. “But the fact is that it’s just good music; if you didn’t know him, and just saw the song placed in front of you, you could assign it to other composers.”
Esteemed writer Neil Tesser (2014 GRAMMY Award winner for Best Album Notes) praises Keri in words very similar to those used for the beloved Fred Rogers, "She writes her own lyrics, which have character and intrigue, and sings them in a voice warm and pure, precisely suited to the stories she tells. Some of those tales are mysterious, some hip, and others as guileless as a saint. But in every case, they slice through the jokey irony of pop culture to frame modern insights in fresh new music. She has done her homework; she's thought things through..Johnsrud's voice is an instrument of tempered silver."
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