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Karen A. Mann


Karen A. Mann

Karen A. Mann

Karen A. Mann always knew she wanted to be a writer. She knew she wanted to be a rock music writer when, as the editor of her high school newspaper back in Morehead City, N.C., she was banned from writing a review (and a very glowing one at that) of Accept’s Balls to the Wall. The look on the newspaper advisor’s face when she even suggested a review of such a record was priceless. Anything that could inspire such revulsion in a teacher was bound to be good. She knew at that point she was on the right career path.

The love of metal began long before that with an intense, and to this day undying love of Led Zeppelin. She can still remember the exact moment (at 12 years old, sitting in the back seat of an older kid’s car after school on a warm fall afternoon) when she heard “Black Dog.” Robert Plant’s meaty “hey, hey mama! Said the way you moooove!” jolted her attention from whatever in the world she was thinking of before. The snap-stomp of John Bonham’s snare-and-bass-drum attack, in lockstep with John Paul Jones’ rumbling bass, made her head start to bob. And Jimmy Page’s raw, almost feral riff took her mind to another dimension altogether.

Soon after she was listening to AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult, then Judas Priest, Scorpions and Iron Maiden. One of her proudest moments as a young metal head was meeting the incredibly gracious Rob Halford after Judas Priest’s stop in Greensboro, N.C., on the Screaming for Vengeance tour. Years later, while interviewing Halford for an article in the daily News & Observer, she told him about that meeting. He seemed to find it heartwarming. She admits that metal lost her in the late ‘80s, when good hair started to trump good playing. But a dorm-mate set her straight, and led her back to the darker side of rock when he played her Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. She hasn’t looked back.

In addition to About.com, Karen A. Mann writes for The Independent Weekly, a well-respected alt-weekly based in Durham, N.C. She also writes and takes photos of bands playing in the Triangle, N.C., area on her own blog, Mann’s World.

When not in someone’s face with a camera or an audio recorder, you can find her on Twitter (@mannsworld). An extensive collection of her photos is on Flickr.


Karen A. Mann graduated with a B.A. in English (concentration in writing) from East Carolina University in 1989. She also has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (1991) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

From Karen A. Mann:

Metal is music’s great equalizer. I know metalheads who look the stereotypical part -- long hair, spikes, and jean jackets decorated with obscure band patches -- and I know metalheads who look like someone’s parent (you can put me in that category). I know metalheads in their teens and in their ‘50s, with GEDs and Ph.Ds, of all political and religious persuasions.

Despite metal’s reputation for being the bastion of outsiders and screw-ups, I know a lot of highly successful, articulate people who love nothing more than pumping their fist to Dawnbringer or being kicked in the gut by Nile. More than any other form of music I’ve experienced, metal is about community. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, where you come from or where you’re going. If you can appreciate metal’s aggression, volume and darkness, you can be part of the community too.

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