Talk music with Karen Fackler and she’ll undoubtedly burst into song. It’s second nature to the singer once known as Karen Christopher. She made headlines on the 1970s entertainment pages with bands such as Love Train Express and Karen Christopher and White Horse.
And she’s the vocalist and teacher who put some polish on Doylestown’s beloved Grammy winner, Pink.
Something wonderful happened when Judy Moore called Karen and asked her to give lessons to her daughter, Alecia. Karen still thinks of her as Alecia, not Pink.
“I taught Alecia for several years when she was very young. Her mother worked in Philadelphia and she would drive home and then drive to Durham for an evening lesson. Alecia was naturally talented,” Karen explained. “And she knew what she wanted.”
“I don’t teach technique. I’m actually a performance coach, working more with presentation rather than voice,” Karen said. “And it’s been fun and interesting to watch Alecia become famous.”
She is happy to have helped the superstar along the way and can occasionally still see Alecia doing some of the things she taught her. Karen is one of thousands of teachers and mentors who do not seek wider fame for themselves but on whose shoulders celebrities like Pink stand.
Karen Christopher became a local celebrity as she entertained at nightclubs here in Bucks and in Avalon and North Wildwood at the Jersey Shore, starting in the 1970s, collecting followers wherever she sang.
Karen first found her voice in the choir at the Addisville Reformed Church in Richboro, where she grew up. After graduating from Bucks County Community College, she left Kutztown University to join Tommy Shaw and the Sundowners. “Tommy taught me a lot,” she said of her first professional engagement.
As Karen Christopher, she later drew crowds to the old Cattle Baron in Warminster. Under a headline, “Karen wows them at the Baron,” a reviewer wrote, “Karen is an absolute delight to listen to and watch perform. She possesses a dynamic singing style and personality.”
She also sang at the Centennial Inn in Warminster, the Fairless Inn in Fairless Hills, the Thunderbird in Bristol and eventually closer to home at the Riegelsville Inn and the old Cascade Lodge in Durham.
A versatile performer, she sang pop, country, classic rock, jazz, oldies and disco, even singalongs. She said she loved that feeling each night of walking out onto the stage with people already on the dance floor waiting for the music to begin. “How can you not love them when they love you?” she asked.
Although Karen describes herself as a shy person, the music turned her into a vocalist who sat on the baby grand and belted out the songs, a chanteuse in the style of France’s famed Édith Piaf.
Karen said, “I was an actor-singer, acting out the song. I did that naturally. I didn’t realize that was what I was until someone told me.” She said she never sought superstardom herself. “I never wanted that lifestyle. It was excellent to be small — and my family was important.” She and her husband, Chris, have two adult daughters.
Since she’s left the cafes behind, she has taught music at St. John the Baptist School, now Regina Academy, in Nockamixon and sung with the Palisades Community Chorus.
She teaches voice and piano privately. She’s also been coaching two young singers who will appear in Regina Academy’s musical, “Anne of Green Gables,” opening May 6.
Karen is often found in her garden and admits she enjoys “the silence” in Durham as she’s become more contemplative.
It’s a rare privilege to hear that amazing voice, still strong, with its three-and-a-half octave range, as she moves into performance mode. She sang a bit for me — and it was a thrilling experience, one I won’t forget. Music does have charms.
Kathryn Finegan Clark is a freelance writer who lives in Durham Township. She can be reached at email@example.com.