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Offering hope through song

Karen Pavlicin of Woodbury has created a music CD, in hopes that it might help people coping with grief. Submitted photo by Wendy Woods

Most singers dream of fame and fortune, but Woodbury resident Karen Pavlicin has a different dream, she dreams of helping people cope through music.

"Whatever anybody is going through when they listen to it, I hope they feel like they're not alone, there's somebody out there who's been through something similar and made it," she said. "That's why I really wanted to do the CD for, I know how much the songs helped me, and I hoped they would help somebody else, too."

Pavlicin is not a musician by trade. In fact, she is a writer. Everything changed for Pavlicin, however, in the winter of 2003 when her husband Bob died of colon cancer.

"When my husband died it was like major writers block," she said. "I couldn't write anything, nothing seemed to be meaningful."

Then one day while Pavlicin was in her kitchen making dinner, she began to sing and she couldn't get the song out of her head.

"I had no idea what to do with it," she said.

The following day she met with a friend of hers who is a jazz musician and he told her that it was a good song. Pavlicin decided to have another friend, a professional singer, record and perform the song at her husband's burial.

Over the next two years, Pavlicin continued to have songs floating around in her head. With the encouragement of numerous people, including musicians, Pavlicin said she decided to record her album, "Little Bit of Faith."

I thought I was done with it, but I kept having all of these songs in my head -- I was just expressing what I was feeling," she said. "But then I thought, 'What the heck I'll give it a shot.'"

Pavlicin said she is a very spiritual person and she felt that these songs that were coming to her was a sign from her husband because he was a very big fan of music and was familiar with everything.

"His philosophy always was that there's a song for every occasion," she said. "I truly just felt like this was his way of helping, I felt like that was what he was doing for me, helping me find the right song."

Pavlicin said the year and a half she spent recording with producer Dan Kowalke at his studio in Andover what not an easy task because singing and the music industry was not something she was familiar with.

The whole thing was hard, I was never a professional singer or anything," she said. "I had the hard task of learning musician speak."

Pavlicin said it was very difficult for her to try and express her ideas to the musicians since she was not familiar with the lingo, she said she ended up singing and humming a lot of the music to them.

As difficult as it was to work with the musicians in a field that she wasn't familiar with, Pavlicin said the most difficult thing was to overcome her nervousness about singing about such a personal subject.

"It was a hard subject matter, it took me a long time to sing those lyrics without crying. In fact, we did quite a few retakes on the vocals," she said. "And because it wasn't something I did for a career, yes, I felt nervous, I felt very exposed."

The 12 songs that make up "Little Bit of Faith" are a combination of blues, jazz, folk and acoustic music and express the messages of love, loss, hope and grace.

"Little Bit of Faith" is being sold at numerous retailers and online sources, including Best Buy, Borders, Salon Ultimo,, and Andermax Records at One hundred percent of the profits from CD sales will be donated to cancer research.

"I didn't do it just to become a songwriter now, that's been a fun aspect of it, I really wanted to help personally for people to give that hope and that inspiration, but also for it to go to a good cause."

This may not be the last we hear from Pavlicin, she said she has several other CD ideas that she is considering, including an album of children's lullabies.

"It's kind of opened up a lot of doors, I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but I've just kind of explored it a little," she said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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