Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who is Karen David?

I Need You, sings Karen David, and who could resist such an offer? The exotic star has everything you've been looking for: talent, sex appeal and a star quality that shines through everything she puts her passion to.

The stylish singer, songwriter and actress may be this year's hottest new thing, but Karen is no stranger to the world of showbiz. Handpicked by Bill Cosby to star alongside him in a TV commercial for Jell-O at the age of six, the multi-talented 26-year-old has spent her whole life doing what she does best: putting on dazzling performances to win admirers wherever she goes. Born in Shillong, at the foot of the Himalayas and raised in Toronto, Canada, by a half Chinese/Khasi mother and a father from Chennai, the ever-alluring Karen was never one to be confined by the expected boundaries.

At 17, she won a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston to study jazz and gospel, where she discovered her flair for songwriting. A few years later, she moved to London to study at The Guildford School of Acting and, the moment she announced, "I Have a Dream", Benny Andersson snapped her up in a shot to join the original cast of the hit musical, "Mamma Mia!". Film director, Shekhar Kapur, brought his friend, the legend of Indian music, A R Rahman, who was developing" Bombay Dreams" at the time, down to see the show. He was impressed by Karen and asked her to assist him and Don Black, in the development of the material for Bombay Dreams. Her reward was to be invited to perform some of the songs on stage on his highly acclaimed sell-out US and Canada tour. This was the start of a friendship that has led to Karen writing and recording with A R Rahman at his Panchathan Record Inn studios in Chennai, India.

Her acting career has maintained her profile as she took the time to develop her sound, with onscreen appearances in "Batman Begins" and Johnny Vaughn's cult favourite, "Top Buzzer" on MTV UK & Europe and Channel 5. Most recent credits have included lead roles in Tamasha Arts stage production of "Strictly Dandia", Steven Seagal's latest action flick, "Flight of Fury", and Kevin Macdonald's short film, "Eureka", for Shell Oil. She's becoming a regular face in the UK's mainstream and Asian Media with features in leading publications such as Asian Woman, Asiana, Brit-Asian, and Anokhi, where she graced the cover of their 5th Anniversary edition.

A supporting role in the hard-hitting, movie, "Provoked", alongside the likes of Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Miranda Richardson and Robbie Coltrane has brought her into contact with major players in the Bollywood film industry and the soundtrack for the movie found her back in A R Rahman's Chennai studio to write and record with him the powerful, "Alive", the theme song that captures the essence of the infamous story of the abused woman, Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who refused to let the world crush her.

Karen's enthusiasm for performing live has seen her perform with the Inklein Quartet and tabla genius, Sirish Kumar, at key venues across London, from the Jazz Cafe and Ronnie Scotts to the Ritzy Cinema Brixton, and an invitation to play the very prestigious Nehru Centre in Mayfair (The Cultural Wing of the Indian High Commission). She's already notched up a few hits on the festival circuit including Glastonbury, Wychwood and the Secret Garden Festival.

The priority now is to complete her debut album, "Me Versus Me". She's been working with an A-list team that includes the beautiful, eclectic Bombay Dub Orchestra (Garry Hughes and Andrew T Mackay), and songwriter-producers Rob Wells, Damian Legassick, Andy Bradfield and, of course, A R Rahman. The breathtakingly original songs marry her velvet smooth voice and quirky insights with progressive dub pop, set against an exotic backdrop that could only have been painted by Karen David.

Karen has been super busy most recently with preparations for her second EP release, "The Live Sessions". Growing up in a house filled with love for all kinds of music, Karen's parents would take her regularly to the local amusement park to hear some of the music industry’s greatest legends perform: Smokey Robinson, Herbie Hancock, The Temptations, Dionne Warwick, Kool and the Gang and Neil Sedaka to mention a few. So it came as no surprise when Karen announced that she had wanted to record a live sessions ep of her forthcoming album tracks – in the old school tradition. With no computer in sight, “The Live Sessions” ep was recorded organically and live at Antonio Feola’s Fish Factory Studio in Dollis North London on equipment from the golden age of valve technology. This has given the recordings a truly distinctive feel where the ‘The Live Sessions’ vividly captures Karen's magical, live sound.

Opening track ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ is an epic musical homage to Bollywood blockbuster “Dum Maro Dum”, while ‘Carry Me Home’ showcases Karen’s voice and features the exquisite Inklein Quartet and the extraordinary string arrangements of Steve Bentley-Klein. ‘All I Need’ meanwhile is the result of a collaboration with Jonas Quant, a young writer discovered by Karen on myspace, who has since written for Kylie Minogue, while the flamenco-tinged “Pink Glasses,” and “Shillong Shillong” an autobiographical song about Karen’s remarkable roots. But no matter how far Karen has come, where she is going is every bit as exciting and ‘The Live Sessions’ is an incredibly exciting statement of intent from an artist tipped for big and beautiful things...

2008 also sees the premiere of her movie, "The Colour of Magic", where she was filming alongside Sir David Jason, Sean Astin, Tim Curry and Jeremy Irons, in the SKY TV movie adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel. She plays the warrior princess, Liessa the Dragonlady.

Karen has also just finished filming Universal Studios' prequel, "The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian", in Cape Town, South Africa, where she plays the fiesty, and beautiful Layla. Directed by Russell Mulcahy (Resident Evil: Extinction, Highlander), she co-stars opposite Michael Copon (One Tree Hill), Randy Couture, and Simon Quarterman. 2008 will see the release of both of these films, her second ep and an album release. It's been a journey in the making, but Karen's debut album is almost ready!

Karen David supports rubber tree planting project in her homeland Meghalaya!

Karen David will be recording a new version of her "Shillong Shillong" song and donate it to Worldview Impact to support the rubber tree planting project in her homeland Meghalaya, North East India.

We know that there is an urgent need for action to both neutralize carbon emissions as well as reduce poverty on a large scale globally. In combining these targets, the overall priority of our business is to provide rapid impact in Asia first. The binding of Green House Gases (GHG) by planting of fast growing rubber trees has an immediate effect, which continues until harvesting of the trees on maturity in 30 years and thereafter by new planting. It is estimated that the amount of GHG offsetting that 10 fast growing rubber trees can provide is equal to the yearly footprint (10 tons carbon) of an average person living in Europe or North America.

Worldview Impact will create an environment where local people in rural Meghalaya can actively participate in an array of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. These include carbon off-setting through planting rubber trees and other relevant activities, complimented by renewable energy technologies to support organic agriculture, fisheries, water harvesting and forestry on a sustainable level.

By planting rubber trees, the goals of the project could be met with maximum impact. Rubber based agro-forestry involves a complex and diversified cropping system or multi-cropping that combines the growing of rubber and other agricultural crops in the area in a sustainable manner. We have carefully select the highest yield rubber trees, with a mix of various clones to secure the most sustainable plantation practices. The project’s concept of 100% organic agricultural methods, will add maximum carbon absorption value, in addition to avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides made of carbon based raw materials.

Worldview Impact follows a robust social responsible policy. The company will secure the best working conditions and remuneration of the employees, with ownership shares to the workers and with part of the profit to be used for community development in the area. The company is committed to provide basic health and housing standard to the community and education for all with scholarships to youth form the area for higher education (which is lacking today). The project is committed to integrated development and beneficial contributions to the local community aiming at a complete welfare programme.

The competitive edge of our business lies on that fact that we will have both environmental benefits and poverty reduction strategies incorporated into our business model. Benefit to poverty reduction will instantly be achieved, both by planting of rubber trees following organic methods as well as other food crops identified according to local environments in the various pilot countries.

Additional knowledge will be shared with local communities in training on clearing of lands, making of compost and production of micro organism for fertilizing, and on techniques to maintain forests and plantations with the highest levels of return. In addition, income from sale will be shared with local communities or local institutions providing the land, as part of share cropping, lease agreements, or other methods selected by local partners. More information can be found on so read through the website.