Karen K (Kalafatas) is best known for her pop-rock songwriting style that has broad appeal with people of all ages, from tots to grown-ups to grandparents. She is also a voice, music and theater teacher for preschool and elementary aged children, and adults.
A former musical theater actress in New York City, Karen is now the leader of Karen K & the Jitterbugs, for whom she delivers crowd-engaging shows with a captivating stage presence, energy, humor and poignancy. Her original songs have won multiple awards, including a coveted Parents Choice Award and Best KidVideo of 2015 for her smash hit “I Woke Up in a Fire Truck.” She has appeared on CBS-New York and PBS (WGBH), and her Jitterbugs Music Classes for children 5 and under were named Best Music Class in Massachusetts. The Jitterbugs band was voted Best Kindie Band in Greater Boston by 41,000 Mommy Poppins Boston voters.
With a deep passion for social justice, Karen is also the founder and creator of Kids Really Rock, a free all-day family music festival held annually at the Lawn on D in Fort Point, Boston, that promotes kindness, creativity and community. The event attracts 10,000 people annually and is the largest stand-alone kids music festival in the country. For her work to perform social change through Kids Really Rock and her dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion within the kids and family music community in Boston, Karen was awarded the Berklee Urban Service Award in 2017.
When not performing or producing arts-related events, Karen can be found in the classroom. Her preschool Jitterbugs music classes ran for over a decade in Brooklyn, New York and Greater-Boston, MA. She was also a Performing Arts teacher at KIPP Academy Lynn in MA, and continues to be a teaching artist at theaters across the country, including Wheelock Family Theater in Boston.
Karen resides in Chapel Hill, NC with her family, including her daughter, Love Bug, the original Jitterbug.