Music Review: How Kimberly Nichole Does Kimberly Nichole
Seattle-born alternative rock/soul singer Kimberly Nichole is beginning to turn a lot of heads within the music industry. This self-described "rock ballerina" has caught the notice of such popular media forces as BET, Vogue, and Seventeen magazine with her genre-defying tunes, soulful voice," unique style, and flair for captivating live performances. Despite her busy schedule, Kimberly also takes time to contribute to causes that are important to her. Her recent performance at a She's the First benefit concert that raised over $17,000 to support girls' education in Uganda had spectators raving. Teen Voices editorial intern Carolyn Schweitzer spoke with Kimberly about musical inspiration and staying true to yourself!
Teen Voices (TV): When did your passion for music begin?
Kimberly Nichole (KN): When I was a little girl. My mother was a singer and she had my sister and me sing in church. The exposure to music as a child really fed my love of music.
TV: When did you start writing your own songs and what is your song-writing process?
KN: I first began writing my own songs when I was in elementary school. I really don't have a process. Sometimes I may wake up with lyrics and melodies that I then write down or sing into my recorder. Or sometimes my producer has a basic idea of a track that he wants me to write a song to. So it varies; it depends on my mood. I really don't have a set formula for writing.
TV: One of my favorite tracks on your album is "Little Girl New," a song about perseverance and overcoming obstacles. What was the inspiration for this song?
KN:" That was one of those songs that just kind of came to me one morning and I don't know where it came from. It was definitely inspired by my life and what I was going through at that time especially in regards to staying focused on my dreams and the path I wanted to take in my life and as an artist. That song was definitely fueled by my dreams for the future. It was basically my encouragement to myself.
TV:" You've performed with a wide variety of artists who range in style from R & B to rock to soul. Who are your own musical influences?
KN: There are a lot of people who I love. I love Nirvana. I love Jimi Hendrix. I love Tina Turner. I love Josephine Baker. I'm inspired by all types and styles of music. I love trends and artists that are innovative and who have their own style. But my main influences would probably be Nirvana, Tina Turner, and people of that sort.
TV:" You yourself have a very unique style and attitude. How do you stay true to yourself, especially in the music industry?
KN: I try my best not to be distracted by what people think is best for me and what they think I should do or how I should perform. People always have their opinions about what artists should do, but I feel like I'm at my best and most comfortable when I'm doing me." I'm most comfortable when I'm being exactly who I am whether the issue is performing or what songs I should sing. And I want people to be able to look at me and be inspired by my ability to just be who I am and then in turn encourage them to just, you know, do you! You're beautiful. You're wonderful. You're wonderfully made. Do you! My hope is by being exactly who I am as an individual and as an artist, I will inspire others to 'do them.'
TV: What do you think teen girls can do to try to stay true to who they are? What advice would you give to them?
KN: Staying involved with your community and staying grounded is really important. Being around people you love and enjoy and who enjoy you is important as is being with friends who encourage you. Looking for extracurricular activities that you feel are fulfilling and also contribute to who you are as an individual and enhance you as a person can keep you centered and focused on your goals in life. So just staying involved in things that you love and staying grounded by being involved in your community. I think those are important to really remaining who you are and focused on the path that you know is for you.
TV: What advice would you give to teenage girls who are interested in music?
KN: Be involved in as many things as you can that are related to music whether it's performing in talent shows, doing open mics, or being in musical theater." All of these things were important to me when I was in high school. Writing and doing creative activities is important. Looking for inspiration from the past can teach you a lot. There are so many icons and musical geniuses who contributed a great deal to American music and international music and I think it's important for young aspiring artists to learn from their influences. Staying in touch with what came before you as you prepare to contribute to what's going to be in the future of music is definitely important.
TV: You recently performed at a She's the First benefit concert, Girls Who Rock, in order to raise money to sponsor girls' education at Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda. What does She's the First's mission mean to you? How did you get hooked up with them?
KN: I definitely believe in and support She's the First's efforts. She's the First's mission is important because it contributes to young women who might not normally have the opportunity to be educated." It's great to be part of the effort to contribute to young girls' education by buying such simple necessities as books and notebooks." It's important because a lot is required for a good education." Tammy, one of the co-founders of She's the First, read an article that Seventeen magazine did about me. She reached out to my team about me performing and it was a no-brainer. I was like, "Definitely! I would love to be a part of it!" Educating those who will contribute to our future is a great cause. I was definitely glad to" support a project that is concerned with making progress in the world.
TV: What projects are you working on at the moment?
KN: I'm preparing right now to perform in different shows. I'm also releasing a rock E.P. towards the end of the summer, which is basically going to be me covering and performing some of my favorite rock songs. Hopefully towards the end of the year, I'll really start working on my next project that I'll release next year.
TV: Is that album also going to be released independently, like your debut album the "Yellow Brick Journey?" Why did you do it this way?
KN: Yeah, I mean, indie's the way to go. I don't think it's necessary in this day and age to always seek out money and funding from corporations and sometimes getting a record deal isn't that easy. If you're passionate enough about it, you can definitely get your own personal money and invest it in what you believe in. I believe in my gift and I think it was necessary to invest in it. I believe in this project that my creative partner and I came up with. So I saved some money and made it happen for myself.
TV: Where do you hope to go with your music in the future?
KN: All over the world. My hope is that my music extends beyond just the country that I live in, that it touches people all over the world in places I can never imagine it touching. I hope that people are able to experience my music and my shows and be inspired by them. That's my hope for the future.
To read a review of Kimberly Nicole's CD The Yellow Brick Journey by Teen Voices teen reviewer Nahjee Brown, 17, New York, see our print magazine, Teen Voices, volume 20.2, Fall 2011/Winter 2012 issue in the "Hear Me" column.
Photos courtesy of Honey Thorn Music
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