Karen Gibson Roc
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Karen Gibson Roc

Band Spoken Word Hip Hop


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"Karen Gibson Roc has an aptitude for naming things!"

The New York spoken word artist proves everything she names turns to gold
By Jamie Elizabeth Hall

Karen Gibson Roc has an aptitude for naming things — the title of her CD, 5 & 2 Fish, came effortlessly, as did Traveling with Light, the title of her DVD. “It just comes to me,” she explains as we talk via cell phone. We are walking toward one another, hoping to meet up in Fort Green, near her home in Brooklyn, New York. I am supposed to walk up Fulton Street while she walks down.

“We’ll meet up eventually,” she tells me. I don’t argue, even though this is the stuff of Brooklyn horror stories. For a meeting like this to work, you must have a defining characteristic. Fortunately, Roc has two.

“Look for my afro,” she says, then adds something else which is swallowed by an ambulance siren.

When I spot the afro, I cross to meet her. She hugs me and commences the interview with, ”I’m a musician, a poet, an artist, and soon to be a mother.” It takes me a moment to realize her belly is as big as her signature afro.

“Guess you didn’t hear me say I’m five months pregnant.”

Laughing, she provides a perfect package of goodies: CDs, DVDs, and pamphlet for her upcoming April 21 show at the Whitney Museum. Roc is meticulously organized, a prevalent theme in her work. When she sings, the words are a precise fit and her voice pours with the steady motion of heavy cake batter — which is perhaps why her band is aptly named Fluid. Neither depressing nor conflict-oriented, her lyrics are impassioned love songs to black heritage, femininity and art.

“I chose to live a life of an artist", Roc explains. Roc’s new life began in 1989, when she moved to New York from her native Canada. “I was a sad, shy little girl,” she confides. “My sisters were over achievers. I didn’t start ‘till I was thirty.” However, at thirty, Roc had an epiphany. Giving up a corporate job, she turned to spoken word. She never worked a desk job again.

“I made a decision and it’s all hard, no matter how you do it, so, I made a choice to do it my way.”

Working her way into the scene, she eventually made appearances on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Def Poetry Plugged-In. She has also appeared on Central Park’s Summer Stage and off Broadway. And, although it’s been a steady ascent, it hasn’t always been easy.

“I’ve had to check my ego,” she explains. “If I’m worried about being famous, that takes away from who I am.”

Presently, Roc is very much involved in the role of mother-to-be. “The book I’m working on, Side Order of Truth, it begins, ‘my name this week is Bijoux. I’m my mother’s four-month-old fetus.”

In lieu of Roc’s propensity for great names, I can hardly wait to hear what she decides to call her latest project.

- Venus Zine

"Press Quotes"

"Karen Gibson Roc is deep and authentic, This is something real."
Toure - Writer

"Karen Gibson Roc, Rocks! Her and her band Fluid are innovative and Challenging."
Danny Simmons - Executive Producer, HBO's Def Poetry Jam

"Karen Gibson Roc's hybrid musical poetics stir the soul and open the heart."
Adam D. Weinberg- Director, Whitney Museum

- karengibsonroc.com


5&2Fish 2004
Live @ The Whitney Museum 2006
Travelling with Light 2007 CD/DVD funded by The Canadian Council For The Arts



Karen is poet/musician who follows her creative itchiness wherever it leads her.
Karen has just signed a distribution deal with german record label lemongrassmusic for her new CD "TOUCHING THE SOUL"
Release Date: November 2008