Gateway City Big Band

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That guy with the mellow baritone voice you hear and see in front of the band is John Laurenti. His sound of the 40s, 50s and 60s was added to the band in 1999 after being introduced by Gateway City Big Band bass player Mike Bruce.

John was reared in Collinsville, Illinois and moved to St. Louis in 1974. He is a Vietnam veteran and was employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, retiring in 2008. He and his wife, Doe (Dolores) share four children, seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Singing with the Gateway City Big Band is not John's only gig. He has been a guitarist since his late teens and currently does a lot of casual singing gigs. He works with Joe Bozzi, El Quartetto Uno, the Blue Knights and does combo jobs for Jim Moore.  Also, John and Doe sing together and entertain at restaurant lounges, private parties and nursing homes.

From May to October, John pursues his other love, playing softball. The team he plays with is in a senior league, playing in six to eight tournaments per year in the South and Midwest. In fact, they won two World Series rings in 2003.

John says he's "really enjoying being with the best big band in town and has a lot of respect for the band members and the musicianship it takes to play the great big band arrangements.


Karen grew up in a home listening to all styles of music and was singing fro m the time she could talk, so it's no surprise that music is a big part of her life.

A graduate of Lindbergh High School, she was fortunate to have benefited from their highly-regarded music program, being invited to the MMEA conference in Tan-Tar-A with the Orchestra, Symphonic and Jazz Bands. She played and sang in a local classic rock group, Sundance and Brass, until she went away to college. At the University of Missouri-Columbia she played with the Jazz Ensemble and got her first experience singing with a big band. When the Jazz Ensemble director decided to have the band play the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross version of "Twisted", Karen's exposure to the swing and jazz genres helped her step out of the trombone section and clinch the vocalist spot.

After college, Karen hung up her horn for a few years before joining another big band in town where a Gateway member heard her and invited her to come sit in with the Big Band. She was asked to join at her first rehearsal in 1993 and after playing trombone with Gateway for a year, she started singing with them in 1994. She still thinks of herself as a trombone player who happens to sing.

In the Spring of 2001, Karen was asked to assume the responsibility for the band library upon the retirement of long-time librarian Jim Knox. She also is the trombone section's Section Leader and Recording Secretary for the Board of Directors. In that role, she keeps the band's extensive mailing list up to date and compiles the band schedules for the public and the members. She also works with the webmaster to maintain the band's website.

In 2005, Karen and trumpet section leader/front man Rick Sharp were married. In addition to playing in the Big Band, they enjoy playing often at church.

Read about the other band members

Music Director  The Vocalists   Sax Section  Trumpet Section  Trombone Section  Rhythm Section  Retired Band Members