Ontario-born Karen Potje’s childhood disdain for country music was turned upside down in 1989 when she moved from Montreal to Texas. With hurtin’ songs, Western swing, and Honky Tonk filling the airwaves, she couldn’t help loving the stuff and writing some of her own. Keeping an open mind and ear, however, she also sang classical and choral music. In fact, as an alto in the Dallas Symphony chorus she took part in their New York concert at Carnegie Hall’s 100th anniversary celebration.
When Karen’s first baby was born a whole new musical interest was born as well. She vividly remembers that sweaty June day when she paced her Dallas driveway, squalling baby in her arms, and wrote her first kids’ song, ‘’Baby’s in a Slump.’’ (Mom was in a bit of a slump too.)
Returning to Montreal, one baby in tow and another on the way, Karen had a lot to write about, and the songs – quirky, funny, fun and beautifully crafted – kept on coming. Soon Karen left choral singing behind in favour of a solo repertoire of jazz standards, classic Leonard Cohen and Hank Williams, and her own expressive and honest music. She began performing this repertoire in Montreal coffee houses, telling good stories about real people in a voice that holds a hint of country warmth.
Meanwhile, as Karen’s children grew, the music she writes about kids, about how parents see their kids, and about how kids see the world continued to evolve. These songs come together beautifully in Karen’s first CD, the Parent’s Choice Award-Winning 2008 release, Can’t Help But Love You, Baby.
While Karen continues to perform her children’s material, she and musical partner, guitarist and guitar-builder Dan Kelly, have been busy performing her “grown-up” stuff in the Montreal area over the past year. Karen is a prolific writer, and for almost every new show there are more new songs - songs about hope and foolishness, truth and lies, and all those grey areas in between. Karen and Dan now have the difficult task of choosing which songs they will begin recording in spring 2011. The end result will be a rich and colourful roots/alt country cd featuring Karen, Dan and some of Montreal’s best acoustic players. And there will be plenty of great songs left over to get started on the next cd.
Karen Potje, singer/songwriter
I perform small gigs with guitar accompaniment.
Bigger events get the full band treatment: guitar, piano, stand-up bass, drums, and one or two doo-whop and shooby-doo singers.
I work with a number of Quebec and Southern Ontario musicians, depending on the gig.
Can’t Help But Love You, Baby (14 songs for kids and grown-ups)
Released May 2008
Co-produced by Karen Potje and ombu productions http://www.ombu.ca/en/catalogue/
Distributed by CanadaCD.ca
The Parent's Choice foundation has named ''Can't Help But Love You Baby'' one of their recommended music CDs for 2009. http://www.parents-choice.org/product.cfm?product_id=26003&StepNum=1&award=aw
Here’s what they say:
''Karen Potje's appealing new release sparkles with sophisticated vocal stylings and a dash of quirky humor......reminiscent at times of Jessica Harper's melodic and lyrical prowess. ''
Lynne Heffley ©2009 Parents' Choice
"Garbage Day", one of the sillier songs on Can’t Help But Love You, Baby
was a finalist in the 2008 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Children's Category, session 1. http://www.jlsc.com/winners/2008a/finalists.php
Karen Potje was a finalist in The Children’s Music Web Awards 2008: Best New Artist for Preschoolers, for her submission, Can’t Help But Love You, Baby.
Kids music that rocks http://kidsmusicthatrocks.blogspot.com/2008/07/friday-free-for-all-15.html
5 minutes for mom www.5minutesformom.com/?s=potje
Homerun CBC Radio 1, 88.5 FM, Montreal, Quebec
Couleurs Jazz, Radio CKLX, 91.9 FM, Montreal, Quebec
The X, Campus and Community Radio, Radio CFBX, 92.5 FM, Kamloops, British Columbia
Can't Help But Love You, Baby
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Ontario native Karen Potje performs her jazzy pop with a sprinkle of sophisticated country. No surpr...Ontario native Karen Potje performs her jazzy pop with a sprinkle of sophisticated country. No surprise, because Potje's background includes a stint in Texas digging local country & western music while performing with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Potje's lyrical, witty tunes for and about children are inspired by her own kids, and backed by an all star collection of Montreal musicians, including Rob Fahie, Philip Hornsey, Joshua Lebofsky, and Jordan Officer.
Westmounter launches cd
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Karen Potje delighted young and old at the Atwater Library on May 24 at the launch of her CD of chil...Karen Potje delighted young and old at the Atwater Library on May 24 at the launch of her CD of children’s music, Can't Help But Love You, Baby. Potje started writing songs  years ago after her child was born when she wrote a song about him. She continued from there, writing ‘a collection of songs in my head,’ said Potje.
A resident of Burton, ‘‘the kids on Burton got me going again,’’ said Potje. It was then, three and a half years ago, that she approached her producer and decided to make her first album of children’s music.
Potje and her ensemble of Montreal musicians performed songs from the album at the launch. The songs, with their clever, fun lyrics based on Potje’s real life, got everyone’s feet tapping. Toddlers and children in the audience were encouraged to participate with instruments provided by Potje.
After the performance, the audience called for an encore, which Potje performed. ‘‘I am really happy with the result,’’ Potje said of her album, ‘‘and I got to work with such great musicians.’’ For information or to purchase a copy of Potje’s CD, contact her at email@example.com
Sing and Dance
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June 17, 2008 Written by Jennifer Kyle (who just turned 4) and I have been road-testing a f...June 17, 2008
Written by Jennifer
Kyle (who just turned 4) and I have been road-testing a few CDs.….
If you’d like to introduce some new music to your family’s playlist, read on. These have passed the Mom-test, the preschooler test, and are generally approved by the nine-year-old big sister as well:
Can’t Help But Love You, Baby–
Karen Potje grew up hating country music. When she moved to Texas (where she sang with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra), she just couldn’t resist any longer. She came to love the music and even wrote some of her own. When her first child was born, she couldn’t stop writing about the relationship between moms and kids. She wanted to write songs that would appeal equally to kids and the adults that care for them.
She succeeded! Kyle calls this CD “your CD.” As in, “Can we listen to your new CD?” which he does ask regularly. Among the kid-picks, it’s definitely Amanda’s favorite. Kyle recognizes the quality of grown up music–nice vocals and background music without silliness. Wait–there is silliness, but it’s refined silliness. The song, “Better Keep Your Shoes On” warns children what might happen if your toes aren’t contained within your socks and shoes. Our favorite song, “Bunnies on my PJs” is a toddler’s lament about being stuck in cutesy PJs when he really likes his jammies tough.
Stylistically the music on Can’t Help But Love You Baby is varied–a little Spanish “ai-yai-yai” in one song, some jazzy tunes, folksy country and more. It’s all pretty laid back, and it’s pretty appealing to all ages, which is a great way to keep the energy level and arguing down, which is sometimes just what the Mommy ordered.
For children's gigs I perform the 14 songs from," Can't Help But Love You, Baby" as well as some new tunes. Also booking alt counry/blues/jazz gigs for grown-up audiences -- all originals, all the time!
There are no upcoming dates at this time.