Karen Sherry began her career in music as one of the Sherry Sisters, a singing, songwriting, and recording duo that consisted of Karen and her sister. Together, they achieved success with the international hit “Sailor Boy” on Columbia Records. Sherry joined ASCAP in 1979 as head of public relations. She subsequently held other positions at the company, including Director of Communications and Public Affairs, and also served for many years as Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs and Executive Director of the ASCAP Foundation—-both of which titles she held until the end of June of 2015, when she decided to retire from the organization, after a 36-year tenure filled with notable accomplishments.
During her time with the organization, Sherry worked with numerous ASCAP presidents, including renowned music creators Hal David, Morton Gould, Marilyn Bergman and Paul Williams. A visionary, creative leader, Sherry conceived and established many of ASCAP’s signature events including ASCAP’s Awards Shows honoring its members for their achievements and the annual “We Write the Songs” concert at the Library of Congress, where she spearheaded the effort to house the prestigious ASCAP Collection at the Library.
Sherry also established ASCAP’s grass-roots advocacy network and produced the celebrations for ASCAP’s 70th, 75th, and 100thyear anniversaries. She produced memorial tributes on Broadway for ASCAP greats (which included Jule Styne, Burton Lane, Frederick Loewe, Cy Coleman and Irving Berlin) and other events honoring some of the most revered songwriters and composers of the American songbook. Sherry also produced shows broadcast on CBS (“100th Birthday/Irving Berlin”); PBS (“The Music Makers”); and tributes to Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, and Garth Brooks on Capitol Hill as well as Quincy Jones’ 75th birthday gala in New York. She currently serves on the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame Board; the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame Board; and is a National Trustee of the Board of the Recording Academy; she is also a member of the Kaufman Cultural Center Board and is one of the first recipients of the Women in Music Touchstone Award.
Sherry became Executive Director of the ASCAP Foundation in 1998 and used her passion to further its mission of identifying and nurturing new talent, promoting music education in the schools and expanding its humanitarian “Music Heals” Division. She grew the body from a local entity with small resources to what is now a national organization distributing over one million dollars each year in scholarships, grants and prizes to deserving new talents and to worthy internal and external programs. Over the past 15 years, under Sherry’s leadership, the Foundation boosted its funding by 175%; Foundation programs increased 154%, now reaching more than 2.5 million participants annually. Funds spent on programs rose more than 200% and the Foundation today also supports awards, workshops, and community outreach programs, nurturing diverse young songwriters and composers in all genres who might not otherwise be heard.
In addition to continuing her service on music industry Boards, Sherry is currently working as a consultant on a variety of creative music projects.