Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In memoriam, Karen Roel (1946 - 2012)

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  ~From a headstone in Ireland

Karen Roel, was the 5th and only girl in a family of 6. She was born of César Roel, a successful Mexican lawyer, and Josephine Schreurs, and accomplished violinist.

Being a child of a violin player, she grew up surrounded by music and creativity. Two of her older brother were rock stars in the late 50's and 60's. 

She recorded her own albums, but she made a career on composing music for commercials and movies. Along with her younger brother, Eduardo, she won an "Ariel" (the Mexican equivalent to an Oscar) for the score of "Rojo Amanecer", a movie portraying the tragic events occurred on Tlaltelolco on October 2, 1968. Her work since then, had been nominated for several awards.

Her pride and joy were her two daughters: Amanda and Sabina. Her best gift in life, her beautiful grandson León, with whom she shared birthday.

Her husband died of a massive heart attack 27+ years ago, so she had to face being a single mother since her girls were 8 and 5 years old.

Four years ago, she was diagnosed with Lymphoma. She fought hard to continue living. She didn't want to loose a day with her daughters and grandson.

After her second round of chemotherapy, she was declared in remission. At the beginning of April, she was rushed to the hospital due to complications to her liver and kidneys.

As the fighter she was, she put all she had to get well. Sadly, will is not what she needed to recover as her body began to shut down.

She died peacefully at 10:20am on Tuesday, April 17, in the arms of her beloved daughters and in the presence of one of her sister-in-law, her younger nephew, two of her nieces and a dear friend of her girl's.

I was honored to be chosen -by life, by her and by God- to be present at that powerful, life-changing moment, once again witnessing the greatness of love, as it conquers death.

As her oldest niece, I can say that she was a loving aunt. She had a wonderful sense of humor. She was always nice and caring.

I saw her frustrated, annoyed, happy, sad, worried... but never angry. Maybe I was lucky, but I don't think so.

I consider myself lucky to have spent many days of my youth at her house, listening to her play her piano. 

She was gracious enough to help us with our school projects when they involved music, I remember many happy hours at her recording studio.

When my grandma died, I spent many hours with her, cleaning the house and reading letters and papers and stuff. Those moments, alone with my aunt, at grandma's house, are treasured memories I will always hold close to my heart, as we were able to share many family stories among us.

Dear aunt Karen, thank you so much for being an important part of my life. Please know that you will be always loved and MISSed...

... Until we meet again,



  1. hello. i'm a record collector from Montreal and just bought an album named "Image de Karen" by Karen Roel. i was trying to find information about her and arrived here. sad to know she died. i like her music, it reminds me of Françoise Hardy. rest in peace, Karen.

    1. Hello, My name is Sabina and I am the youngest of the two daughters of Karen.
      Iam pleasently surprised knowing that you found, bought and liked my mother's album.
      This was her only album as a singer, she begun composing since she was 16. This album was recorded in Paris, she always remembered this time of her life as one of the best. She spent three months in paris, and fell in love with the city

    2. She enjoyed her short singer career, things got tricky and she left the business.
      She studied classical piano for 9 years and worked as a jingles, and original scores for movies. She liked her job a lot, music was her preferred way of expressing.
      She was a caring and loving mother, a fantastic friend, alway true to her beliefa and with a strong moral compass.
      I am glad to say that I enjoyed being her daughter for 32 years.
      Lymphoma no hodgkins, got her, she put up her fight with six chemos and went clean for year and a half, having the best of times with her first grandson, from my older sister.
      Lymphoma returned, another six chemos but her body was tired and consumed, finally all the complications of chemotherapy and a flu, took her away.
      Surrounded with family, filled with love.
      I am so happy knowing that she has a new fan.
      She also composes original music score for an important mexican movie called ROJO AMANECER that talks about students political movement in 1968 and the student killing in tlatelolco' s plaza.
      You should look for it.
      thank you

  2. Carla, sabes todo lo que te quiero!

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  4. Looking for your grandmother's name, after finding a ledger my mother kept for a dancing school my mother and your grandmother had together in Mexico City long before I was born, I found this page - a sad discovery. I remember your mother as a beautiful and accomplished singer (in a family of accomplished musicians!) when I saw her as an adult in the mid-seventies. We played as children, but I don't remember much about that. They are late, but I offer my condolences.

  5. Mi nombre es Milton Manzanares. Después de algunos años de no saber de Karen, y recordándola con mucha nostalgia, al buscar en internet para poder contactarla me he enterado de su partida. Recuerdo con mucho cariño el tiempo que comparti y tuve el privilegio de trabajar con ella. Nunca olvidaré su humildad y su calidez. Siempre me trató con mucho cariño y eso lo llevo en mi corazón. Nunca olvidaré las horas que trabajamos juntos en su estudio, en cómo disfrutamos hacer una producción para niños y reíamos con Sabrina. Mi vida ha cambiado mucho desde entonces y esos momentos que compartimos han contribuido a ser quien soy ahora y a amar la música como ella lo hizo. Le mando un fuerte abrazo a Amanda y Sabrina.