Karisa Wilson is an award winning singer-songwriter from Michigan. Her debut album “Little Girl” won the WYCE’s Album of the Year Jammie, one of Michigan’s most prestigious indie music awards. Karisa writes and performs a blend of Indie Folk, jazz and blues. She’s also a classically trained violinist.
Her name is Karisa. Ka-REE-sa. Please don’t say it any other way.
Drives her crazy.
Karisa is from the Greek, XAPIS. It means grace.
When they gave her that name, her parents could not possibly have known that they would leave her so soon. The day before Karisa turned 29, she lost her mom. The next year, she lost her dad.
Overnight, Karisa became an orphan of sorts and, along with older sister Zoe, surrogate mother to younger brother Nathan and little sister Vida, just 16 years old.
“Everyone knows the cliché,” she says. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Not surprising that’s the title she chose for her second album: Stronger.
Now an accomplished vocalist and guitarist, Karisa started her musical journey as a classical violinist. In high school she found her voice, and after college she picked up a guitar.
As she played local gigs in West Michigan, demand for her unique soulful blend of jazz, blues and folk—think eclectic Americana—grew.
She completed the recording and production of her debut album, the August 2007 release party at the historical Wealthy Theater in Grand Rapids, Michigan was an unexpected success.
Karisa went on to capture the 2008 WYCE ‘Best New Artist‘, as well as the coveted ‘Album of the Year’ Jammie awards. She’s gone on to win “Best Contemporary Folk” for her Stronger album, and an ArtPrize music award for single, “The Courage of One”.
Her parents are not here to witness her success. But their influence continues in her life every day as she works to forge connections through her music.
She can feel the moment when that happens, when performance becomes conviction.
Karisa performs solo and with a band. She has shared the stage with national artists Ziggy Marley, Pat Benatar, Sam Phillips, Billy Bob Thornton, and has performed for Barack Obama. She has performed and recorded with national artist Brian VanderArk (The Verve Pipe), and has often been a featured artist in the Meijer Garden’s Tuesday Summer Concert series. Favorite venues include, Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, The Living Room and The Bitter End in New York City, Wheatland Festival, and Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake, MI.
Karisa teaches violin, voice and guitar at the Triumph Music Academy, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband John and son John-Paul.
Friends and collaborators:
Michael Triant, Lou Musa, Jake Gerard, Russell Gorton, Rob Mulligan, Jack Gregory, Greg Baxter, Paul Lesinski, Andrew Martin, Michael Sullivan, Susan Picking, The Rockit King, Fauxgrass Music, Wisaal Music, Brian Vander Ark, Eddie Eicher, Mark Lundell.