Black History Month: Meet Karan Chavis

By: Stephanie Palmer Email
By: Stephanie Palmer Email

Karan Chavis is a shining star that glimmers on stage and in the board room. The North Carolina native made her way to Texas in the 1980's. Her influences include classical music, blues, jazz and country.

She is an Assistant Dean by day and a sultry singer by night.

"Two different experiences and two different skill sets," said Chavis.

For more than 20 years, she's been dividing her time between adminstrator for Texas A&M and performing in Austin's live music scene, not to mention being a mom.

"I would work a full day, collect my son's homework, go out the door, drive for 2 hours, sing for 3 hours, drive back for 2 hours, and check the homework on the break," said Chavis.

Chavis says her journey has been enduring ride.

"I think of the miles that I put on myself and my car," said Chavis.

She says each career is an outlet for the other.

"I couldn't be a full-time musician, I just don't think I could do it," said Chavis. "But, I know that I also need the music in my life."

Chavis says she's gotten a perspective, few rarely see.

"You see the life of a musician living their dream but, working 2 gigs a week and getting a 100 bucks a gig," said Chavis.

Along the way, Chavis has had some amazing gigs herself. She played at the Lincoln Theater in Washington, D. C.

"A neat experience was playing with the Duke Ellington orchestra, which as a kid I had seen them many times on television," said Chavis.

This month, the band leader and singer performed at the Red Dress exhibit for the Bush Museum, one of her many community contributions.

"You give back what you can in your community and music is one of the things I can give back," said Chavis.

The Texas transplant says she's a true Aggie, a member of the Class of 1987. Chavis worked for the University's Human Resources for more than a decade, before moving on the the Division of Finance. She stays busy with her current position at the Health Science Center in College of Medicine.

Karan has cut back on the music a bit. Over the years, she finally feels like she has mastered the balance of family and two careers.

"it has been very satisfying that I play enough to play, sing enough to sing," said Chavis. "But, it is not all that I do, it is not all who I am."

Its been easier to juggle it all, with growth in her own backyard.

"Thankfully, there's more of a live music scene in Bryan-College Station. I think the Art Walk and First Friday has brought so much."

Through, some reflection, she feels she now has the best of both worlds.

"Is this working for me?," said Chavis. "I am getting out of it, the things that I need without having to compromise too much? I don't know how you can define success differently than that."

The mother of four is passing her music along to another generation. She has a studio in her home and at least one of children is considering a career in the entertainment industry.

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