A native of Iowa, Kara graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in vocal performance and film & television production. She has been involved in Chicago’s vibrant music scene for more than 10 years.
One of Kara’s recent opportunities included playing keys and singing in the Chicago production of the smash Broadway hit, Jersey Boys for the past two years.
She performs on an ongoing basis with the improvisational theater troupe, Wavelength, traveling the country providing educational keynotes to teachers and administrators. Recently, she wrote Musical Staff – a parody on educational issues with her partner, Brendan Kelly. They have performed throughout the U.S. and as well as internationally, including for the Ministry of Education in Singapore in 2005.
Kara teaches private and group voice/piano classes to children and adults, and the vocal jazz combo class at The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. She also teaches at her own private studio in Berwyn.
Before the birth of her daughter in 2007, Kara released a children’s album called, “Callin’ All Kids”. Her other recordings include, a jazz CD entitled “If I Should Lose You,” a Brazilian CD “Sonho Meu,” and “The Grandma Project” featuring traditional and country gospel hymns.
In addition to her freelance projects of pop and jazz, Kara performs in a society band, The Standing Room Only Orchestra which was rated one of the top six bands in Illinois by Modern Bride Magazine and recently won best entertainment category in Illinois Meetings & Events Readers Choice Awards 2009.
She enjoys headlining the Kara Kesselring Jazz Trio which features Kara on piano/vocals, Patrick Williams on bass, and Jarod Bufe on saxophone.
She also sings and plays accordion and guitar for Sugarcreek Road- a group that performs traditional country, folk and Americana.
Kara has performed at several notable venues: the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as well as Chicago’s Symphony Center, Taste of Chicago, Pops for Champagne, The Coq d’Or-Drake, The Pump Room, Stetson’s Steakhouse, Green Dolphin Street, Hotel Intercontinental, Philanders, Pete Millers Steakhouse, Chicago Improv Festival, and, Old Town School American Airlines Theater. Kara has also done jingle and voice over work for CLTV, XRT Radio, and WMS Gaming.
Originally influenced by her traditional country roots, Kara was trained in classical piano and voice, and then introduced to jazz in college. A few years later, when working with guitarist Scott Anderson, Kara fell in love with Brazilian jazz and performed in the group, “Nova Bossa.” Kara’s musical influences include: Joni Mitchell, Lyle Lovett, Prince, Alison Krauss, Tom Waits, Jonatha Brooke, Bonnie Raitt, Abbey Lincoln, Grazyna Auguscik, and Holly Cole.
When Kara isn’t working on music projects, you can find her participating in the Berwyn Arts Council where she is a founding member. She organized a successful 2009 concert series through the Berwyn Arts Council at the city’s own 16th St. Theater and was proud to be a part of Cartopia car-art events.
In addition to her work on the BDC, Kara is very active in her church, Lake View Presbyterian (LVPC). She, and her husband Patrick have been members for more than 10 years and enjoy performing special music. Through LVPC, Kara has organized a silent auction, a concert series, and a comedy night that successfully raised funds for the award-winning renovation and restoration of the church’s facade.
When not making music, you can also find Kara traveling the world, meeting new people, doing yoga, modeling, knitting, reading, trying to teach her defiant pooch Sammy new tricks, and enjoying every day of life with her fantastic husband and their two- year-old daughter, Iris.