© 2023 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Karen Elson: From Model To Roots-Rock Musician

For 15 years, Karen Elson has graced magazine covers and runways as a top fashion model. But these days, it's her voice that's attracting attention.

Her debut album, The Ghost Who Walks, was produced by her husband, rock musician Jack White, whom she married in 2005. When Elson describes her home life, it's easy to imagine how she got into the act.

"Jack built an amazing studio in our back garden," she says. "So on any given day, there is a collection of rascals and musicians sort of traipsing in and out of our house."

In fact, Elson has been cultivating her music for several years. Modeling carried her from a gritty English factory town to New York, where she first started performing. There, she sang cabaret and performed backup vocals for the likes of Robert Plant. She started writing songs, too, but kept them private -- even after marrying White.

"I felt really anxious about sharing them with anybody -- not just Jack, because I felt a lot of insecurity about just people's perception of me writing songs," she says. "Maybe me being a model. Also, me being Jack's wife. But Jack overhead me quite a few times singing my songs and eventually ... said, 'Let's go into the studio and record them.' "

The couple headed to the back garden and went to work. The result was The Ghost Who Walks, a roots-rock album with a bit of a dark side.

"[The Ghost Who Walks] is a story about a woman who is madly in love with a young man and ultimately, he takes her for a drive to the lake," she says. "Under the moonlight, he kills her, which obviously isn't about my life. But, you know, I love a good Gothic tale."

Elson says she knows her music career is bound to raise eyebrows, but she plans to tour and continue recording, in addition to keeping up with her modeling career.

"I think there's room for both," she says. "I really do."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content