Karen Dalton (singer)

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This article is about the American blues folk singer. For the basketballer, see Karen Dalton (basketball).
Karen Dalton
Background information
Birth name Karen J. Cariker
Born (1937-07-19)July 19, 1937
Enid, Oklahoma, United States
Died March 19, 1993(1993-03-19) (aged 55)
New York, United States
Genres Country blues, jazz
Occupations Vocalist, banjoist
Instruments Vocals, guitar, banjo
Years active 1960s–1990s

Karen J. Dalton (born Karen J. Cariker; July 19, 1937 – March 19, 1993) was an American folk blues singer and banjo player associated with the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene, particularly with Fred Neil and the Holy Modal Rounders as well as Bob Dylan.


Dalton was born Karen J. Cariker in Enid, Oklahoma.[1] Her bluesy, world-weary voice is often compared to that of jazz singer Billie Holiday, though she claimed to be more influenced by Bessie Smith. She sang blues, folk, country, pop, Motown -- making over each song in her own style. She played the twelve string guitar and a long neck banjo.

Dalton's first album, It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best (Capitol, 1969), was re-released by Koch Records on CD in 1996. Dalton's second album, In My Own Time (1971), was recorded at Bearsville Studios and originally released by Woodstock Festival promoter Michael Lang's label, Just Sunshine Records. The album was produced and arranged by Harvey Brooks, who played bass on it. Piano player Richard Bell guested on In My Own Time. Its liner notes were written by Fred Neil and its cover photos were taken by Elliott Landy.

Both Dalton's albums were re-released in November 2006: It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best, on the French Megaphone-Music label, included a bonus DVD featuring rare performance footage of Dalton. In My Own Time was re-released on CD and LP on November 7, 2006 by Light In The Attic Records.

Known as "the folk singer's answer to Billie Holiday" and "Sweet Mother K.D.", Dalton is said to be the subject of the song Katie's Been Gone (composed by Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson) on the album The Basement Tapes by The Band and Bob Dylan, who wrote of Dalton that "My favorite singer...was Karen Dalton. Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday and played guitar like Jimmy Reed... I sang with her a couple of times."[2]

Dalton was closely associated with singer/songwriter Tim Hardin, whose songs she covered. She was among the first to sing his "Reason to Believe".

She was married to guitarist Richard Tucker, with whom she sometimes played as a duo, and in a trio with Hardin.

Dalton died in 1993 in New York, under the care of her old friend Peter Walker.



  1. ^ Laura Barton (23 March 2007). "The Best Singer You've Never Heard of". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  2. ^ Dylan, Bob (2004). Chronicles: Volume One. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-2815-4.  (Page 12.)

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