Kara Leigh Baxter attended the University of Colorado at Boulder for her Undergraduate Studies, and earned a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance in 2001. While in Colorado, Kara played in the Boulder Philharmonic, Greely Philharmonic Orchestra, CU Symphony, Baroque Chamber Ensemble, Opera Orchestra of CU, and in her summers, the Union Avenue Opera Orchestra of St. Louis, MO. She was also the 1st violinist for the Kamata String Quartet, who won the State and Regional MTNA Collegiate Chamber Music competitions, and 1st runner up at the National MTNA Collegiate Chamber Music competition in 2000. Kara has also appeared as a soloist with orchestras in Nebraska and Colorado. She has studied violin with Dr. Robert Emile, Martha Curtis, Jennifer John, and Oswald Lehnert; and chamber music with Judith Glyde, Erika Eckert, and the Takacs String quartet.
While at CU, Kara began to study jazz, both as a vocalist and a violinist. Kara went on to the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University in Chicago, where she earned her Master of Music in Jazz Voice and Commercial Music in 2003. While at CCPA, she sang lead soprano in the Vocal Jazz group “The New Deal” when they performed at the IAJE festival in Toronto, under the direction of Michael Molloy. Kara also studied jazz with Patricia Barber, Art Lande, John Davis, Michael Pagan and Chip Stephens. Her arrangement for vocal jazz ensemble, “This Quiet Room,” was nominated for “Best Jazz Arrangement” in Downbeat Magazine, and was recorded by the “New Deal” on their 2003 CD. Currently, Kara performs with the Kara Leigh Jazz Combo, and has released her first CD, “Black Coffee” in November of 2007.
Kara is on faculty at Nebraska Wesleyan University, where she teaches violin, and Doane College in Crete, NE where she teaches jazz. Kara performs frequently, both as a classical violinist and as a jazz vocalist/violinist. Kara is an active member in several professional organizations, including the Nebraska Music Teachers Association, American Choral Directors Association, and the International Association for Jazz Education.