Ms Karen Gibson
‘I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.’
My name is Karen Gibson and I am unique because….
There is nobody else like me! ;o)
You recently starred in the BBC show ‘The naked choir’ what was that experience like?
I’m not exactly ‘starring’ in the show at all – the star of the show is Gareth Malone, as well as all the groups who took part in the contest! I’m one of a panel of 7 jurors, which I really enjoyed. It was great getting to know people who are at the top of their game in their respective fields. I learned a lot from them, which was a privilege.
You are known for your superb teaching skills, excellence and the ability to transform community choirs into contest winners. What is the key to your success?
I don’t know that I would say that I am successful – I would say that I have had success, and as far as that is concerned, I just love to see people be the best that they can be, and try to find the tools to enable them to do so. I’m a boundary pusher – always seeing how far I can challenge people’s own perceptions of what they are capable of. However, I would also say that I love to learn from my teaching experiences and take those forward into my future teaching practice.
You have been working with choirs and vocal groups for over 25 years how do you keep it fresh and exciting?
I was taught and am a firm believer that life works by connection. When you’re in connection with the people that you’re teaching, it’s always exciting and fun! That, and the ability to always try to learn from various teaching experiences means that I am always mixing it up and that helps to keep it fresh.
Apart from ‘inspiring people through education’, what are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about young people. I’m passionate about them being the best that they can be. I’m passionate that they have healthy influences in their lives. I’m passionate that they are a left a great legacy and that our ceiling is their floor – that is, that they get to build upon the best that we, their predecessors, have been.
Judges have been known to cry during the performances of your choirs, namely the children’s choir Maria Fidelis when they sung ‘As the Deer’ for the Songs of Praise BBC Senior School Choir of the Year 2010. Why do people get so moved by gospel music?
I believe it’s because it’s a spiritual music. Gospel music is a music that speaks of love, joy, peace and so many other positive things that people, regardless of faith, are impacted by. It’s powerful!
If you could meet someone famous who would that be and why?
I think that would have to be President and/or Michelle Obama. Or Nelson Mandela (again). Or Oprah Winfrey. I’m inspired by people who through integrity, and goodness change the world for the better and who set an example for others.
What is your perspective on young people in today’s society in regards to the stereo types surrounding them? What do you think is the answer?
To be honest, I think our young people are short-changed in many ways. Society seems to often point it’s fingers at them, saying ‘look how bad they are’ without realising that it is us that has failed to correctly steward what we have been given. The answer is that we are all responsible for the young people that we come across in our day to day lives. We are responsible for the transmitting of healthy core values, through the modelling of the values, words of encouragement, the establishing of boundaries, guidance and direction, a gentle reprimand if needed, love and consistent championing. They are following in our footsteps, so we must be the ones to keep a check on what we are leaving as a legacy for them. People learn by what they see around them. We have ourselves either to thank or blame ourselves for the world of the future.
Who or what inspires you?
Easy. My mum. She is loving, gracious, prayerful, wise, intelligent, engaging, patient, determined, funny, discerning, inspiring, fun-loving, driven…. I could go on… She was born into this world 78 years ago, unexpected and unannounced and was so underdeveloped that the doctor put her in a corner to die. 5 children, 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren later she is still living, laughing and loving hard. She has survived heartache, hostility and hurt, but her worship heart is exemplary. I’m so proud she is my mother. She is such a foundation to me and I – and many others – owe her so much.