Karen Celestan manages the Music Rising at Tulane program in the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University. She is an adjunct instructor of English at Southern University at New Orleans and a freelance entertainment writer for the Advocate newspaper (New Orleans edition). She is a regular interviewer on the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, holding live conversations with such artists as Cassandra Wilson, Rance Allen, Joe Sample, Germaine Bazzle, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Earth, Wind & Fire, and many others. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and a board member of the New Orleans Film Society.
Celestan is the co-author of unfinished blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man with Harold Battiste, Jr. (Historic New Orleans Collection, 2010). The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (BCALA) presented the 2011 Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation to unfinished blues for excellence in scholarship.
She was community relations and policy manager in Government Affairs at Tulane University, senior director of university communications for Dillard University, publications and media coordinator for Festival Productions, Inc. of New Orleans (which produces the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival [Jazz Fest] and produced The Essence Music Festival), and a copy editor for The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), the Louisiana Weekly (New Orleans) and the NABJ Journal (National Association of Black Journalists). She was a longtime host of Writers’ Forum, a literary talk show on WRBH-FM (New Orleans). A former journalist, her work has appeared in a number of publications, including The Times-Picayune, Gambit Newsweekly, The Louisiana Weekly, and the Niagara Gazette (Niagara Falls, New York). She served as president of the New Orleans Association of Black Journalists (two terms). She was a member of NOMMO Literary Society (New Orleans), a creative writing workshop for African-American writers led by Kalamu ya Salaam.
Her short story, Higher Ground, a fiction piece about the aftermath of Katrina, was selected as a winner of Carve Magazine’s 2013 Esoteric Award for the Natural Disaster edition. Her creative work has appeared in several literary magazines and poetry collections.
She is a proud member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church (Fred Luter, Jr. – Senior Pastor) and is a faciliator in the Divorce Care Ministry. She is the mother of an adult daughter, Nikki Lee, a licensed therapist who specializes in Marriage and Family Counseling.
Celestan is a graduate of the University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in communications and English, and Queens University of Charlotte (North Carolina) with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing. She is chief executive officer of Mosaic Literary, LLC.
e-mail: Karen@mosaicliterary.com / Follow me on Twitter: #KarenMosaic