To hear Kara Lyn Roundy sing, or talk, or mimic the mannerisms of the famous singer/actress Cher is not so much seeing an impersonator as it is being in Cher’s presence. Yes, she’s really that good. For Roundy, who’s been performing professionally for 35 years, acting and singing have always been as natural as breathing.
Now, she’s on a mission, working towards a major personal and professional goal—creating a show for the troops. This is her way of giving back to those who protect the freedoms she’s always enjoyed. Just like entertaining is an important part of her life, so is giving back. To say, “Thank you, again.”
On being an entertainer, she said: “People ask, ‘how did you get into it?’ and I tell them, ‘You don’t just get into it. You come out that way!’ I was 3 years old when I started begging for a piano. Every time I went to church, I bee-lined for one. When I turned 8, my grandparents bought me a piano, and I started studying piano immediately.”
She recalls as a child seeing the late Victor Borge perform his famous musical comedy act. Sticking her arm out and pointing towards the TV, she said, “That’s what I want to do.” By age 10, she was. She booked her first professional gig at a family restaurant at Christmas time. At age 17, after graduating from high school, she took a job as a nanny in southern California. And yes, now she does a killer Fran Drescher (The Nanny) impression as well.
“I wanted to get as close to L.A. as I could get to be near the entertainment world, and insisted that the family that I worked for had a piano,” she recalled. “By time I had my second nanny job, I was teaching piano as well.”
She’s been, in her own words, “a vagabond. I’ve moved too many times in my life.” That’s included to several countries, both U.S. coasts and several stops in between. When she moved to New York City, she talked about the affinity she had immediately for it.
“When I landed there, with my suitcases and boxes, I stood in Times Square, waiting for a cab, watching a sea of them speed by. It was kind of like my ‘That Girl’ moment,” she said.
Since she was 10, Kara Lyn has performed at restaurants, country clubs, weddings and receptions, and private parties. A few years ago, she took a meaningful turn and began performing for senior centers, homeless shelters for women and children, the vets, and in correctional facilities, too. And she loves it.
“I’ve witnessed first hand the kind of healing that comes through music,” she said. “I’ve experienced some residents at my shows who are suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s, who are typically non-responsive. Yet during my music, they have made subtle positive movements. It’s become an absolute passion of mine to reach out and entertain others, yet it’s really about that connection.”
About 18 months ago, she began paying attention to the fact that people were always asking her if she taught piano, or if she would, or why she wasn’t. She felt that she needed to pray about whether teaching piano was someting she should be doing.
“The answer was kind of like, ‘Ya think?’ ” she said. “I heard God lovingly tell me, ‘This isn’t about you.’ That was a stunning paradigm shift for me. Instead of feeling anxiety or like I was calling for help, I immediately felt ‘Oh! This is about who I can help! And that changed everything for me–it’s about helping others.”
Now she’s readying her next big project—her piano-comedy show for the troops. “One day I was in the library and checking email. While deleting my junk folder, I was impressed to click on what appeared to be a random email that ended up in that folder. After opening it, I felt impressed again to click on a link within that email.”
It’s where she discovered The Iraq Star Foundation (www.iraqstar.org) helps provide necessary reconstructive surgeries to war veterans recovering from physical and mental injuries. “I immediately became emotional with a powerful peacefulness, and knew somehow I was supposed to be involved in all this,” she said. “It occurred to me that this piano-comedy show I’ve been thinking about for years, since I left for New York City in ’97, would be perfect for the troops—as a motivational show. My story is about overcoming tremendous opposition and how the value of every single individual is important.” She is working with a local co-writer and lifelong friend from California on the show, and intends to have it ready to perform next spring or summer.
In the meantime, she also brings the gift of music to myriad of piano students to whom she teaches piano performance. Additionally, she acts and does voice-over work.
“Kara Lyn Roundy is the real deal…an unbelievably believable impersonator,” said Loral Langemier, an international speaker and best-selling author. “At my Cash Machine Workshop, she brought down the house with her Cher impression. She is truly talented.”
To read more about her career and her experiences, including her meeting with Joan Rivers (it’s a great story), you can visit her website at www.karalynroundy.com.