Photo by Lora Karam of Lora Karam Photography
“Raise Your Hands” is the new single from “American Idol” Season 2 runner-up Kimberley Locke. So happy she is back to releasing new music and that she took the time to talk with “Un-Block The Music.”
“The only time I am my true self is when I am on stage making music,” she says. Kimberley describes herself as goal-oriented. She says she was determined to get a record deal before finishing the “American Idol” Tour. She did. It was with Curb Records that she had several hits that included: “8th World Wonder,” “Band of Gold,” “Change,” and “I Could”. She did a second album and a Christmas album with the label as well. “It was just a whirlwind, and as a result, I went through a phase when I didn’t want to sing again. I got burnt out. I think there is this unspoken thing in the industry, though, that if you talk about getting burnt out than you are not appreciative. You are not grateful for where you are. Of course, that’s not true.”
She says, she spent that time off the road thinking about what she wanted her life to look like “I thought, if I am doing what I love and I am not happy, that’s a problem. I asked myself, ‘how do I get happy?” It took time to figure out. Also, I learned that priorities shift. Things change and that’s ok too. I had to give myself permission to change paths.”
Even when Kimberley wasn’t singing, she was never totally removed from performing and music. As CEO of I-AM Entertainment, Kimberley coaches voice to kids, she is a life coach and she does artist development. In addition to those hats, Kimberley wears another….host of “Cooking With Kimberley” on YouTube.
However, all paths lead back to what Kimberley loves, even with the twists and turns. “Back when my first album came out in 2003, I was on the road, and I met Aaron Accetta who was working with some of the popular boy bands (like The Backstreet Boys). We met and then we lost touch.” In the meantime, as life would have it, Kimberley moved to New York and opened up a restaurant in the suburbs, and Aaron walked in. “Since then, we have been friends.” Aaron is now a record producer, musician and co-owner, with Shep Goodman, of Dirty Canvas Music, a production company in Mount Kisco, NY. Kismet was made, however, when Aaron introduced Kimberley to J.C. Santalis of Raw Recording Studio in Patterson, NY (see my story on J.C. at (https://unblockthemusic.blog/2018/06/11/orchestral-music-pop-become-one-at-j-c-santalis-raw-recording-studio/)
“J.C. is my studio husband,” Kimberley jokes. “We work really well together and have been working together since 2007. With J.C., there is a give and take.” She has brought artists to him to record; she even brings her students. J.C. called her in to work on a song with an artist he was working with Bond Villain (https://unblockthemusic.blog/2018/06/12/bond-villains-blackguard-conjures-up-the-epic-feel-of-a-movie/.) However, it was only recently, that Kimberley thought about a new project of her own.
“I want to do music on my own terms so that I will love it again. I took some time off and did events that made me feel good. Then, I started saying to J.C. that I wanted to do new music that is positive and uplifting. So, before I knew it, we were working on five songs.” The first release is “Raise Your Hands”.
Four other songs are almost done. “J.C. and I have written and produced everything together. The music bridges the gap between everything I do. Whatever music we produce will go into my cooking show. The music can also be incorporated into my life coaching. Music is the common thread through it all.”
Another project in the works from Kimberley is a musical she describes as “A journey through my life of music.” She is writing it with her friend, David Galligan. “Even during the time period when I was not singing, David would do events throughout the year, such as Help Is on the Way, an AIDS benefit in California. “I would always get to sing a great song. But, recently, he called me and said, I want to write a show for you. I am moving to Connecticut. And, he did! Once a week, we write, the show is about 90 percent done.”
Kimberley is happy about the way her life is going now. “I never want to be pigeon holded. It is hard for people to embrace that and not want to put you in a box. But, working with J.C. is effortless.”
To buy “Raise Your Hands,” go to: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/raise-your-hands-single/1409480220
The single is also available now from: Amazon, Spotify, SoundCloud etc.
There is also a link on Kimberley’s Facebook:
Sidebar: Kimberley’s Musical Journey In A Few Words
It’s tough to put someone’s career into a short blog post. However, I am going to try. When an artist’s fans look at a career, they think…wow it happened over night. That’s rarely the case, but even if their break comes quickly, a lot leads up to it. Then, even more importantly, how does an artist keep working? In my career, I have spent a lot of time writing for a young musician audience, but I think those young musicians can get a lot of insight into “the business” reading about Kimberley’s ups and downs and how she landed on her feet.
A Nashville girl, Kimberley performed with an a cappella group starting in 5th grade. They were called SHADZ Of U. “We sang at three or four different churches on Sunday. We were very well known locally. I remember one of the moms getting so frustrated because she was the one always driving us. ‘Never have I seen 4 people with so many places to go, but with no driver’s licenses!”
The group stayed together until college. “We separated, and it was now what? I have been singing with these four girls, and now I don’t know how to sing without them. It was scary.”
Kimberley went to Belmont University. “I didn’t sing there. I didn’t want to deal with the competitive nature, but I got really sad and depressed. I called one of my mentors. I will never forget sitting in the lobby of the student center crying, and she asked me ‘are you singing?’ She said, well you need to be. You have been singing all your life. She was pregnant at the time and said, I will let you take my spot in the band while I am on maternity leave. So, I did that, and I sang in two other bands as well. Even now, as I look back on that I realize, if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work at all.”
Another bump in the road came in Kimberley’s junior year of college. “I realized my singing career wasn’t going where I wanted it to go. I was constantly meeting with producers, trying to make things happen, trying to be heard. I sat down and thought that there were only two things I really wanted to do in my entire life. That was to be a lawyer and a singer. So, I thought I had to get realistic and get my grades up. I completely stopped singing. Again!!!” Well, she did get into law school, but right after she was accepted, she decided to audition for “American Idol”.
“I was lying in bed, thinking about not auditioning. Thinking what are you going to do? You have already been accepted to law school, now you are going to go and sing? I ended up going. I thought I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by going on this audition.”
Fast forward, Kimberley made it to Hollywood Week which was the exact same week she was supposed to start law school. “I ended up withdrawing from law school and going out to LA, and I never looked back.”
The road after “American Idol” was not an easy one either. Kimberley lived in Los Angeles for three years. Then, she moved to New York and opened up a restaurant. She was there for three years, then moved back to Los Angeles and realized she didn’t belong there. She came back to New York, started up her company, I Am Entertainment (http://i-am-ent.com) with the goal of helping artists create successful careers in the arts. How perfect is that? She sure has experience there!