Karen Jonas: From Open Mics to Music Festivals


The cover for Jonas’ album “Butter”.

Aynsleigh Escher, Editor

Fredericksburg has its fair share of musicians, many of whom are from various genres. One of the most prominent genres in the downtown music scene is Country, with venues such as the Colonial Tavern and Old Silk Mill commonly hosting musicians like Karen Jonas.

Karen Jonas has been on the scene for around 20 years. She came from Maryland after college and, ever since meeting her guitarist, she’s been a prominent musician.

Her entrance into the music industry was a “real slow walk”. She started playing guitar when she was sixteen and attended open mics with a friend. She played and wrote throughout college, however, she began to consider it a true career when she moved to Fredericksburg.

“It’s a process when the opportunities are available from the work that you’ve done, you can turn it into a career rather than just something that you like to do,” Jonas said.

Jonas didn’t expect she would get to where she currently is, in fact, she didn’t have many expectations for her future when she was first starting out.  

Her most recent album, Butter, definitely deviates from her past albums. It’s funky, sassy tone is unique not just to her past music but the the norm in Fredericksburg. She recorded it while pregnant, which resulted in the central theme of the album being about motherhood. She wanted to reflect her experience as a mother in her work, and that intention shone through in the spunky, completely unique sound.

She named the album after the particular song “Butter” because “Everybody likes butter” she said while laughing.

Continuing, she said “I don’t know, I thought it was a really evocative image in the album; album titles aren’t my favourite thing to come up with. Everybody who names novels or movies has a particular kind of genius because to be able to distill all of that information into three words or one word or two words… It has to leave you interested.”

In the future, she plans to just keep playing music. She never had huge goals for her music and that humble attitude has carried over to her professional career.

“I didn’t really have big plans, I’m a quiet and introverted mind-my-own-business kind of person. I just really liked writing songs,” Jonas said.

One of the primary challenges she has faced recently is balancing raising her four children with writing, producing, and playing music. Luckily for her, she has a loving husband willing to work with her schedule

“My career as a musician and my more full time job as a mother of four, so most of the songs in different ways sort of allude to that,” Jonas said. “I get as much help as I can, obviously my husband is immensely helpful when I need to actually get to a show and play three times a week most weeks. As far was writing and the creative process of music, it is a challenge to make that space.”            

This year, she’s checking off a personal goal by going to South by Southwest. Her music is on Spotify, with music videos (my personal favourite is Country Songs) available on Youtube. Her facebook is Karen Jonas Music and her instagram is @KarenJonas Music. She posts her concert dates and events, so stay posted!