KARLY EPP is a Canadian-born, New York-based jazz vocalist who draws listeners into a mesmerizing world that reveals the power of nuance and subtlety in music. Her rhythmic confidence and improvisational prowess stem from a genuine love of straight-ahead jazz, as she has thoroughly studied the masters of its tradition, drawing inspiration from such artists as Sarah Vaughan and Shirley Horn. However, equally important to her is a sense of emotional vulnerability and unaffected delivery — an aesthetic movement led by her teacher and mentor, Grammy-nominated vocalist Gretchen Parlato.
Born into a family of musicians and music educators, Epp’s love of music has been lifelong. After graduating from the University of Manitoba in Canada with a Bachelor of Music specializing in Jazz Vocal Performance, as well as a Bachelor of Education, Epp went on to become an accomplished choral director. She spent several years teaching, directing musicals, guest conducting and presenting clinics. It was during this time that she also discovered her love for arranging vocal music, something she continues to do regularly. Additionally, Epp co-chaired Tempo: The Manitoba Music Conference, an annual large-scale conference for music educators in Manitoba, Canada.
In order to focus on her performance career, Epp relocated to New York City and later graduated from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music with a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies. During this time, she had the opportunity to study with three Grammy-nominated vocalists - Gretchen Parlato, Theo Bleckmann, and Kate McGarry - all of whom influenced her greatly. It was during this time that she was introduced to Somatic Voicework and went on to study the method with Jeannie LoVetri. Her time at MSM also allowed her to further develop her understanding of composition, arranging, and harmony, working with renowned artists and composers including Dave Liebman, Phil Markowitz, and Jim McNeely.
In the fall of 2017, Epp was named a top-15 finalist in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition. This recognition was determined by a panel of highly distinguished judges, including T.S. Monk, Ann Hampton Callaway, Vanessa Rubin, and Will Downing.
Epp has performed at major jazz festivals and clubs throughout North America. She has led her own group at the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, and has appeared as a guest with drummer Quincy Davis (Kurt Elling, Tom Harrell, Benny Green), bassist Karl Kohut (Wynton Marsalis, Felix Peikli & Joe Doubleday’s Showtime Band), and JUNO-nominated duo Erin Propp and Larry Roy, among others. In 2016-2017, she held a monthly residency at New York’s historic 55 Bar with Vinyl Live!. She continues to be active throughout the city and beyond with both private and public performances, as well as her own teaching studio.
Epp is currently a visiting instructor at the University of Manitoba for the 2017-2018 academic year.
"The human voice is the simplest instrument to carry around … but one of the most complex to master."
— HERBIE HANCOCK