Our Brave Soul Feature for this month is a trailblazer, a vocal powerhouse, & fashionista who has been dubbed the "the puffy-haired tower of power". KimberlyNichole an avant-garde singer, songwriter & mesmerizing performer recently released her debut album "The Yellow Brick Journey". Her acclaimed multi-dimensional debut has introduced her to music lovers both domestically and abroad. This Seattle native has
graced stages in New York (Apollo Theater, Webster's Hall, SOBs, Joe's Pub), Atlanta (Sugarhill, Apache Cafe, Smith's Olde Bar), DC, Seattle and Japan. She has been billed with some of the best signed and independent artists, including Bilal, Patty Crash, Dwele, Eric Roberson, PJ Morton and Janelle Monae. She also recently collaborated with renowned R&B crooner Lyfe Jennings on his forthcoming project. Even more impressive, KimberlyNichole's single from her first 'mini project', titled "Can't Get Enough," is featured in the film "Three Can Play That Game" produced by and starring Vivica A Fox. Kimberly is also mentored by the legendary Ashford & Simpson.
Last month, I had the opportunity to get an interview with Kimberly Nichole to discuss her artistry, influences, and her album, "The Yellow Brick Journey". I'm honored to present our Brave Soul Artist for November, the beautiful & talented Kimberly Nichole.
In the end I have to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with who I am and what I've become. I can only maintain that happiness by having my own voice and not letting anyone else's overshadow it.
The title was inspired by one of my favorite movies "The Wiz" - the songs on the album are personal events that have happened in my life and some of the subject matter coincide with themes seen in "The Wiz". Courage: Pursuing your dreams, The Heart: Love, Being Smart: In life decisions et cetera.
For those who've never seen you perform live before, what can they expect from a Kimberly Nichole show?
Passion and Energy!
How do you describe your sound musically for those who are unfamiliar with your work?
My music is inspired by many styles. I enjoy all types of music. I'm largely inspired by the music my parents played in our home when I was a child - which was soul music. The music of my hometown Seattle - has also inspired me a great deal. Seattle is known for grunge/rock. So, those two styles as well as many others have contributed to the KimberlyNichole sound.
How important is it for you to connect with fans and supporters of your music?.
It is very important - most important. I do this because I know my purpose in this life is to touch people with the gift God has given me. So, my connection with people is essential to this.
Our Brave Soul Discussion topic for this month is 'The Blessing and the Curse of THE EGO'. Can you share with us your feelings about this topic, particularly as it pertains to your artistry?
The Ego I believe can be a good or bad thing. An ego is having a sense of self...I guess you have to keep the ego at a center and not let it become too extreme. It can definitely become dismissive towards the rights and feelings of others if you let it get to that "extreme".
Can you talk about the pros and cons associated with being an independent recording artist?
The pros of being an independent artist is you have power and control over what you do. You don't have those who are "writing" the checks or the VP of the company you're signed to telling what, how and when you should do things. I'm able to really just set my own path - learn as I go and work hard for where I want to be in this life. The cons of being an indie is that at times it can be a bit much - handling everything -- the financing, the promoting, the booking, the CD duplication and all the logistics. But I know when I reach my goal I'll appreciate the journey even more because I've personally had a hand in every aspect of my music career.
How important is it for you to maintain creative control over your image, the kind of music you record & perform and the overall direction of your career?
It's very important - I'm always open to advice from others and such, but for someone to be in total control of every aspect is a no no. I don't want to lose myself..my vision..who I am in the thoughts of another and what they "think" is best or will "work" for me. In the end I have to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with who I am and what I've become. I can only maintain that happiness by having my own voice and not letting anyone else's overshadow it.
Who are some of your artistic inspirations/influences (either living or deceased) and please share with us one project or piece of work from each of them that means the most to you...
Tina Turner...Tina Turner! I love Ms. Turner! She's such a fierce woman and her performances are raw...energy...passion! I love all of her music and enjoy watching vintage Ike and Tina review performances, but I would say one piece of work that I love by her is Private Dancer. Simply because at 44 years old she made history and had a major come back as a solo artist! Such an amazing story and a testament to what hard work, faith and talent can do for you. I admire her a great deal. And she's still fabulous at 70 years old..selling out venues and giving full shows with choreo!! I also love Josephine Baker. My favorite piece from her is Princess Tam-Tam. Baker embodied so many things. She had style, grace, was a philanthropist and was fearless. I love watching her dance..such freedom. Her and Tina Turner have the fearlessness on stage that I love.
When it comes to the work associated with the creation and performance of your music, is there one particular aspect that you enjoy the most? Conversely, what is your least favorite part of the process of making music?
I enjoy coming up with ideas and concepts for songs and writing them. Funny thing is my least favorite part of making music is recording it! I am not a fan of the studio.
How do you feel about the use of social networking (namely websites like twitter), particularly as it relates to you as an independent recording artist?
We live in a generation where social networking is popular and a way for many people to connect. It also gives individuals personal insight into one another - sometimes too much insight (lol). The great thing for independent artists is that through social networking you can introduce so many new people to your music...it provides exposure.
What are your feelings about the way that homosexuality and LGBT issues are addressed within the black community?
I believe we've come a long way, but we still have a ways to go. I sometimes feel like the black community is hesitant to talk about or even address LGBT issues. It's one of those things "we" know about, but prefer to avoid and/or turn a blind eye to for whatever reason. It's like in a family..when you have that uncle you know is gay, but no one really admits it..it's just a known fact not openly talked about or even accepted. However, I feel like we are becoming more open and embracing to all walks of life..and learning that we should celebrate our differences and not shun or dismiss them. It's important that we support one another. We're getting there..we will get there.
What impact (if any) has HIV/AIDS had on you personally and how important do you feel it is in this day and age for artists to be advocates?
The increasing amount of HIV/AIDS cases within the black community has definitely impacted me. I've always been a person who believes in contributing to the progression and advancement of people of color. So, naturally when I continue to hear about my community having the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infections it bothers me. It's important for artists to be more than creative individuals who produce music, art etc. we have to use that same passion for the arts in advocating for our community..for our world! If HIV/AIDS is it...go for it...if education is it..go for it.