Photo of Karen Elson, taken at Le Poisson Rouge by Chad Batka for the New York Times
I first heard Manchurian model Karen Elson sing in the back of a black Mercedes crossing back into Manhattan (post party) over the Brooklyn Bridge about eight years ago. Our friend Pascal, who was driving, had stuck a Doors CD (remember those?) into his car player and I heard this melodious earth tone from the back: “People are strange when you’re a stranger.”
I immediately turned to all our girlfriends — stylists and models — jammed in the back. “Who is that?” I roared. “It’s Karen!” One of the girls answered. And Karen blushed and lowered her chin, as she was wont to do then, long before she married musician Jack White. “You should really sing!” I told her. “You have a great voice.” So, she sang us all the way back to the West Village, where ironically, just off a stint at South by Southwest, she just debuted her latest work — written and composed with her husband — at Le Poisson Rouge.
The regular cast of characters showed up. Melissa Auf der Maur, the former Hole guitarist who helped to teach Karen guitar strings. Zaldy, the fashion designer who resembles a cross between a pirate and a rocker. Sarah Sophie Flicker, the girl about town who recruited Karen for her performance/circus cabaret, “The Citizens’ Band.”
But, honey, Karen ain’t no ordinary citizen. Mrs. Black has come to town! Her voice is sweet and despite how the New York Times describes it, the girl has been driven to rockers and to be a rock star herself as long as I’ve known her. Check out her first single, “The Ghost Who Walks.”