Blues award nomination for singer

Wily Bo Walker and Karena K
Wily Bo Walker and Karena K

A WIGAN-born singer is hoping public support will help her turn the tables on some of the biggest name in British blues and land a prestigious award.

Karen Ashton, who is better known by her stage name Karena K, teamed up with Glaswegian musician Wily Bo Walker to record Long Way To Heaven, which has now been nominated for a British Blues Award.

The song is taken from the duo’s album A Long Way From Heaven and blends blues with Karena’s soulful, gospel-influenced voice.

Former Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra (WYJO) saxophonist Karena, who was brought up in Swinley and Whitley and briefly lived in Up Holland before leaving the borough to pursue her career in music, said it was a pleasant surprise to be nominated and hopes public support will carry thesong to the award.

She said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be in the final nomination for this because we weren’t expecting it at all.

“We’re trying to get as much support as we can for the public vote as we don’t have a big publicity machine.

“Wily and I don’t really tied ourselves to genres so anything blues, funk, jazz or soul related is where I’m at. Being Scottish and Lancastrian there’s a definite northern flavour to the album even though it’s based on a US sound.

“The album has six tracks so it’s like an old vinyl recording. Most of the songs were written by Wily but I’ve done these massive backing vocals. It’s a really huge sound.”

A Long Way From Heaven is the first part of a trilogy of albums written by Wily Bo Walker with Karena providing backing vocals.

The two musicians have worked together several times in the past but A Long Way From Heaven is the first time they have released an album under their names.

Karena, who now lives in Ealing in London, has also recently released her latest solo single and is trying to crowd-fund to get her Karena K Band into the studio to record a full-length album.

After leaving WYJO Karena started performing swing and jazz and has toured around the world, including the Middle East and China.

Long Way To Heaven, by Wily Bo Walker and Karena K, is shortlisted for Best Song at the British Blues Awards. To vote or find out more, visit www.britishbluesawards.com

For more information about Karena’s music, visit karenak.com or www.facebook.com/KarenaK.FHR