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For The Love Of Music

Celebrating Jazz With The Haugens

Karen and Dan Haugen are living proof that you can do what you love, no matter the season of your life. When they first met in Newport Beach, California, both were working full-time. Karen was also singing in a couple of restaurants. While exploring their passion for music, Dan invited her to come and listen to him play on his drum set that he kept at his office. Karen brought some
background music, and she sang while he played the rhythms. “I thought, 'Hey! He’s talented!'” Karen recalls.

They started talking about creating a band if they could find a pianist, bass, and sax player. Karen had worked with Ron Kobayashi, an accomplished pianist in Southern California and made an appointment with him to come and practice. They soon added other musicians and called themselves, ‘Elegant Affair.’ Initially, they performed at their home for corporate parties. They were so well
received, they began playing for parties, events, and restaurants.

 Then COVID hit.

“We had reached an inflection point and decided to rethink the direction of our lives,” Karen remembers. Since both were about to retire, they decided it was a good time to consider where they might spend their retirement. Karen went to St. Louis for a family reunion in Farmington, Missouri. After 40 years without a visit, she had forgotten how much she loved the people and the Midwest. They began researching possibilities and ran spreadsheets on various lifestyle assumptions. Karen read about a friend who had moved to Tennessee. “I thought, 'What’s in Tennessee?'”

She began exploring Nashville, as it is similar to where she and Dan grew up, from the style of homes and the quietly sophisticated surroundings, to the warmth and values of the people. It made sense from a music standpoint if they were going to continue performing.

In October 2020, they moved to Brentwood and one year later, to Thompson’s Station where they have more land. Karen and Dan soon became involved in the community. Dan was recently ordained as a Deacon at Brentwood Baptist Church. Even their dog, Avigail, is being trained as a service dog so she can visit seniors in assisted living homes.

Their new band, the American Jazz Company, began performing jazz, light pop, country, and songs from the “Great American Songbook.” Karen and Dan book their band for restaurants and other events including corporate, birthdays and weddings. “Living in this area gives us access to world-class musicians,” Dan says. The band members (Jim Kirby, Shawn Pody, and guest artist, Joe Turley) have years of diverse professional experiences elevating the music to another level.

The American Jazz Company plans to expand to a big band orchestra to compete for larger events. For now, Karen and Dan are just happy to perform. “I love looking at the audience and seeing big smiles and people moving to the beat,” says Dan. Karen adds, “It gives us great joy in this sometimes-challenging world, to make a difference wherever we can.” AmericanJazzCo.com

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