Twenty year old Kimberly Perry, recording artist with EMI/CMG, has created a music style literally well beyond her years. "Stylistically I am mainly influenced vocally by Janis Joplinóshe had a lot of soul, a lot of passion," she says in her deep Mobile, Alabama drawl.
Perry was in Toronto to open for ZOEgirl and although she has been writing and performing her own music for more than six years this was her longest tour so far, lasting a little more than one month. Her backup band also played during the ZOEgirl set. The band consists of Boone Daughrill and Beau Burtnick, her drummer and bass player respectively. Guitarist Brad Allen also traveled with them on this tour but is not part of the regular ensemble.
You may not recognize the name Kimberly Perry because the release of her CD was delayed in June 2004 when her former label Forefront Records merged with Sparrow Records to form EMI/CMG. She does have an EP available and the label is targeting a release date for her CD during the fall of 2005. She has already created eleven tracks for the album and has written more than forty songs to choose from.
She has already worked with a variety of talented people including producers Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin) and Monroe Jones (Ginny Owens, Third Day) as well as writers Lynn Nichols (Amy Grant) and Jeremy Bose. She co-writes many of her songs with Nichols, Bose, and Joyce. Like many artists she is a big fan of Jones who she describes as, "constantly wired" she continues "he's great at communicating and understanding how to guide everybody and creating that live energy."
From a music perspective, Perry was also influenced by the music of classic rockers like the Rolling Stones, ACDC, and Beth Hart. "Some people say I have some Sheryl Crow sprinkled in. I don't like to be that acoustically rock driven but I guess you could say she plays into my sound a bit," she says.
"The record that I want to make is basically taken from classic rock roots. It has sort of a modern flair because it obviously needs to be up to date. There's definitely a modern feel on the record. I love Aretha Franklin. I love soul music. All those sounds play into the feel of the record," says Perry.
Although all four songs Perry performed this night were really good, the one that stood out the most was "Ready to Go", a classic rock song with a southern flair. She sings it with unbridled passion and by the end of the song you are left feeling she couldn't possibly have anything else left to give. Watching Perry perform you cannot help but be caught up in the heavy rock beats, enthusiasm and southern charm.
Noticing what appeared to be a wedding band on her ring finger I asked about it. She says it is a purity ring. "A lot of little girls ask are you married and I say no not at all. My purity ring reminds me of two things, first of all to save myself for whoever my future husband is going to be. Secondly it is to remind me this is my season of commitment to the 'call'." The ring also serves as a reminder "to stay focused and single minded about pursuing that with all of my heart mind and soul and to not divide that with a relationship at this time. So it's kind of a special thing." She adds, "I just don't want to get to the end of the season and think there's so much more that I could have done."
Perry's southern charm, giggles and respectful "yes sirs" sprinkled throughout her conversation belie her powerful rock performances in front of an audience. Her commitment is so deep to the ministry aspect of her music that she has deliberately chosen not to date anyone regularly during the past six years. Her description of the story behind the lyrics of "Lucky One" provides more insight into Perry's character. "There is a divine plan that's being mapped out and a divine canvass that is being painted on in your life. Each stroke plays a part in making who we are."
It is this passion that led Brent Milligan, Vice-President of A & R for the former Forefront Records to comment, "she has a burning desire to see lives impacted by Christ through her music. It's rare to find such an artistic person with a great voice who is also all about building the Kingdom. We can't wait to see what happens when people hear her music and see her heart for God."
Perry says her blues/rock tune "Small Town Girl" is really a reflection of who she is. I am a small town girl from Greenville, Tennessee, (where she now lives). The story behind it is to encourage folks to reach for the goal of life, which is Jesus Christ and forget about all the glitter because all this around us is so temporary it's just going to pass away. He's the one who lasts and completes us." She is a refreshing young lady who seems to take delight in telling you Greenville only has one movie theatre with two screens and the sound seldom works. She gets really enthusiastic when she tells you she is an avid bowler and her family has their own bowling tournaments every Saturday night. She insists however that midnight bowling is the only way to go. It threw her for a loop when it was revealed that in Canada we also have something known as five pin bowling. She was insistent that she was going to have to give that a try on her day off.
Classically trained on the piano, accomplished on the guitar, resentful of playing the clarinet in a marching band at basketball games in high school and fleeing from her violin lessons as a child all make for a very talented musician. When she is creating a song she says she often likes to sit on her bed with an acoustic guitar because she feels it gives her both the bass and percussion element all in one instrument.
She has two brothers, Reid, 16, and Neil who is 14. One plays guitar while the other is a drummer. Perry says, "In my spare time I like developing young talent. I am sort of their musical director and I've been working with them for about three years. I have overseen their writing process and sort of taught them." It is startling to hear someone so young go on to say that she can see herself in the role some day of continuing to develop young talent as a career.
Father Steve is a pediatrician in Greenville, while her mother Marie travels with her when she tours. "She is my mate on the road. They are also very active in my ministry and my career which is a total blessing. They are my accountability circle. It is such a blessing to have their support."
Writer: Joe Montague