Kimberly (a.k.a. K. Michelle) has what it takes to be a country superstar. The Memphis-bred songster can play classical piano and guitar. Her detailed songwriting isn’t for the faint of heart. She illustrates compelling stories through her thorough compositions while making you feel every word with her powerful pipes that compliment her yodeling knacks, which landed her a music scholarship at Florida A&M University.
As early as her first major label album, Rebellious Soul, Kimberly has shouted on the mountain top that country artists The Judds and the Dixie Chicks are some of her greatest inspirations.
“My first voice teacher told my mom, ‘People will expect her to sing a certain kind of music, but I want her to try other things’. So, he got me to sing country and yodeling. It’s a big part of who I am,” said Kimberly in a statement in 2014. “The first tape I ever got was The Judds’ Love Can Build a Bridge. I learned storytelling from that style, and my vocal runs definitely owe something to it.”
Never shy to cross genres and to sing whatever her heart desires, Kimberly has made a point to craft a country album. Now, after years of promise, the singer shared in March that she will delve deeper into her country roots for her oft-delayed record.
Before her country album bulletin and traveling to Nashville to belt yodel-lay-hee-hoo with some of the genre’s elite heavy hitters, Kimberly has made commendable efforts on each of her four albums to let her country voice loom over small-town productions and old-time guitar standards.
As Kimberly makes minor tweaks and final touches to her first country album, and in celebration of Black Music Month, here are nine moments where she had us tipping our imaginary cowboy hat and screaming yee-haw.
“Sometimes” from the album Rebellious Soul (2013)
Credits: Kimberly “K.Michelle” Pate, Jessica Wilson, Bianca “Blush” Atterberry, Jack Splash and Philip Guilbeau (Writers); Jack Splash (Producer)
With the Lord’s grace on her side, this hopeless romantic attempts to stay optimistic about an ex-lover returning to her side. She soon realizes on The Black Heat-sampled solo the chances of him coming back are slim to none.
“Same Man” from the deluxe edition of album Rebellious Soul (2013)
Credits: Kimberly “K.Michelle” Pate, James Alonzo Harris, and Davis Harris (Writers); David “R’Celious” Harris and Alonzo Harris (Producers)
Finding Mr. Wrong seems to be a recurrent theme for Kimberly. Different man, same thoughtless ways, the singer points the finger of embarrassment at herself for her lousy choices in men.
“10 Minutes with God” from the mixtape Still No Fucks Given (2014)
It can be hard to stay on the straight and narrow, especially when you have people constantly pushing your buttons. Kimberly wants to bypass simple kneeling down and praying in hopes for a round-trip ticket to her creator for a short word with him.
“How Do You Know?” from the album Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? (2014)
Credits: Kimberly “K.Michelle” Pate and Bianca “Blush” Atterberry (Writers); Timothy Bloom, Lil’ Ronnie, and B.A.M. (Producers)
Hesitant to fall in love again after a damaging heartbreak, Kimberly wonders when is the right time to test the waters of romance. Her shrill vocals behind the dramatic piano notes cause the answer to her question to become more uncertain.
“God I Get It” from the album Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? (2014)
Credits: Kimberly “K.Michelle” Pate and Bianca “Blush” Atterberry (Writers); Ronnie Jackson, B.A.M., Philip Cornish, Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, and Arden Altino (Producers)
Accepting accountability is a hard but simple undertaking. On the concluding track of AWBAH, Kimberly muses confidently about her daily vices. She fully grasps that her mischiefs are her own fault.
“If It Ain’t Love” from the album More Issues Than Vogue (2016)
Credits: Floyd Nathanial Hills, Ilsey Juber, Rosina “Soaky Siren” Russell, J. Schmugge, Patrick “Guitar Boy” Hayes, and Marcella Araica (Writers); Danja (Producer)
If there was a home run on Kimberly’s experimental third album, this country-soul love song hits the ball out of the park. Aided by a bevy of live instruments, including violas, cellos and bass guitar, her overjoyed vocalizing on the chorus and her sweet adjectives bring out the best in her singer.
“Woman of My Word” from the album Kimberly: The People I Used to Know (2017)
Credits: Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, David Nathan, and Carmen Reece (Writers); Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, David “Davy” Nathan and King Midas (Producers)
Taking an oath to be true to herself, the loud-spoken ballad renders the words of a woman who is ready for a new start after enduring a few painful moments.
“Run Don’t Walk” from the album Kimberly: The People I Used to Know (2017)
Credits: Claude Kelly, Charles “Chuck Harmony” Harmon, and JFK (Writers); Louis York (Producers)
On this down-home told tale that points out Kimberly’s clear and wide range, she recalls a failed love to a pupil she wants to hang touch for their sweetheart.
“Heaven” from the album Kimberly: The People I Used to Know (2017)
Credits: Philip “Hardwerk” Constable and Lindsay “Mavelle” Gilbert (Writers); Philip ‘Hardwerk” Constable (Producer)
Even though the vocals on this outside-written recording sound sweeter than granny’s apple pie, the lyrics noise an unhinged lover who forewarns her man to “take what you can get” before she ruins his seemingly perfect life.