In the Studio: Karisa Wilson

If you've ever tipped back a beer at one of Grand Rapid's assorted open mic nights, chances are you've heard of Karisa Wilson.

As one of the cities most revered artists, her name has gained prestige — only heightened when her debut album, Little Girl, won Album of the Year at the Jammies in 2008.

But it's time for something new. And that's where Stronger, an album several years in the making, comes in.

"I spent a lot of time with this album," Wilson said. "My first album I recorded really quickly, and I am very proud of it — but I feel it was much more amateur. I wanted to make sure that this album reflected sophistication and growth. While it's not where the title Stronger comes from, it is fitting."

Wilson promises that fans of her old album will appreciate the similarities in the root of her signature songwriting style — blending tones of folk, Americana, bluegrass and even jazz. It's a style that is, in some ways, as multi-cultural as she is.

"I come from a very blended sub-culture," she said. "I think the styles in my music reflect that. I grew up in an interracial home, and understood a lot of different subcultures within our American culture — not that my parents were perfect stereotypes. I certainly was exposed to a lot. I play the violin and have a lot of folk undertones, but you'll also hear a lot of soulful and jazz tones in my voice."

Wilson will release Stronger on June 2, with a CD release party at Founders Brewing Company. Her cousin Lucas Wilson will release a self-titled solo album that night as well. Fitting, since the pair have had an intertwined musical background.

"We're close," Wilson said. "I actually sing backup on his album. I've been in the studio with him ... There's even a song on my first album called ‘Luke's Song' that he and I wrote together."

Wilson's debut album, Little Girl, is available through iTunes.