Desert Post Weekly #2

On the Cusp of Stardom
By Tracy Dietlin

Kimberlee Rocks VillageFest

L.A.- based rock, folk, and R&B singer-songwriter, Kimberlee, is on her way back to the Coachella Valley to promote her upcoming album, "What Am I gonna Do?," the follow-up to her debut disc "Learning How To Love."

The last time the Desert Post WEEKLY interviewed Kimberlee in November 2001 she gave a passionate performance at Borders Books and Music armed with just her acoustic guitar, harmonica and powerful pipes, which run the gamut of sounding like Macy Gray to Anastacia to Cher.

A lot has happened in Kimberlee’s career since then. Her busy touring schedule has taken her to New York, Nashville, Tenn., Louisiana, Arizona, Washington state, Oregon and up and down the California coast. "We’ve just started doing the fair and festival markets – which are great exposure," comments Kimberlee. "We’ve also been doing radio and TV appearances in the towns we play in." Actually, Kimberlee is appearing this morning on MSNBC between 6-7 a.m.

This time around Kimberlee has a full band backing her up to give her live performance a more complete sound since much of the material she’ll be playing is from the new disc. For the recording of "What Am I Gonna Do?" slated for a July release, Kimberlee teamed up with legendary producer/programmer, Paul Laurence, who has worked with Smokey Robinson, Stephanie Mills, Freddie Jackson and Kenny G, just to name a few.

"On this album we’ve married live and sampled instruments – whereas the first album was all just live instruments," she says. "A lot of today’s music is all sampled and processed and I didn’t want to be totally processed because I play acoustic guitar. So this disc has both and that gives it a more pop sound. The overall tone of this disc is more commercial and radio-friendly," admits an enthusiastic Kimberlee. "We really want to get these songs on the radio and go for it this time."

So who is the other part of the "we" she keeps referring to? That would be her husband, Matthew, who started the indie label, Real Star Records, to support Kimberlee’s career. Matthew is also her manager and handles the marketing and promotion as well as part time sound engineer. She does, however, have an agent that helps with the college market, which Kimberlee feels is a great avenue to pursue to gain broader exposure.

Kimberlee says that working together with Matthew as a team has been a big key to her success so far. "It’s great, because it definitely protects our marriage, being able to tour together and not having to be separated."

"Even though we are releasing the new disc on our own indie label – we’re still going to shop it around to the other major labels, " insists Kimberlee. She feels getting signed with a larger label would be more possible by having a finished product in hand along with the experience of two years of constant touring to prove to a label that she is dedicated to her career. "I think major labels anymore expect an artist to already have accomplished a lot on their own. They see what you’ve done without them and then they just extrapolate that and realize what their big marketing dollars can add to it."

Kimberlee performs from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. tonight at VillageFest in Palm Springs and also 6-10 p.m. Friday at The River Amphitheatre in Rancho Mirage.

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