Diva for the New Millenium
Whether Everlasting Life is your first exposure to the Gospel diva, or whether you've been hanging out with her since the days of Try Me (from Pearl Records 1994), Kim Burrell has treated you to what is arguably one of the preimminent voices in Gospel today.
You may have wondered what most influenced Kim, and wanted to know how long she has labored before her ministry has been brought to the forefront. Courtesy of the ND co., and in conjunction with Tommy Boy Gospel, Gospelflava.com presents an interview with Kim Burrell - where she's been and where she's going....
She is frequently listed as a vocal influence among many Gospel artists Montrel Darrett among them. That's no small feat for a singer who only entered the national stage in 1998. And for those who have influenced her own vocal style, Kim Burrell credits an eclectic duo: "I have a great respect for Stevie Wonder and Shirley Caesar. [There are] a lot of artists who I consider to be great vocalists, but my greatest influence vocally, is God.
As the premiere artist on Tommy Boy Gospel, some might assume that the pressure is heavy. But Burrell doesn't see it that way. "I felt more of a responsibility to God to continue what [He] has called me to do, and [I am] privileged that God has opened this door for me to be able to express what my ministry is to the world. So it's not a pressure, it's more of a privilege.
Burrell began her musical career at an early age, singing her first solo in church at an age where most are just trying to grasp the basics of walking and standing up. She was all of one years old. "I sang 'The Halleluiah Praise' by Andrae Crouch."
She went on to record with Reverend James Cleveland's Gospel Music Workshop Choir, Trinity Temple Full Gospel Mass Choir of Dallas and The Inspirational Sounds Mass Choir of Houston.
Before signing with Tommy Boy Gospel in 1998, she had created a regional buzz with her album Try Me on the small Texas-based label, Pearl Records. The buzz soon spread across the country, only few could find the record due to a limited production and a small distribution. Sighs of relief were heard everywhere when it became apparent that the newly-created Gospel division of Tommy Boy was going to debut her as their first artist.
Burrell says that Everlasting Life is different from her previous recordings, "because it shows [my] maturity --spiritually and musically. It's an extremely exciting album, and it has allowed me to show the world a different side of me."
"My favorite song on this project is 'I Come To You More Than I Give' mainly because it gives a very direct message to the listener.....'Lord, You do so much, and instead of me being grateful and thankful, I'm always saying, 'give me more, give me more'. And my plea is, help me to change that. Lord, I come to you much more than I give. I'm sorry. Now I give you my heart, my soul, my mind, my money, everything belongs to God."
As for the type of audience listening to her CD, Burrell explains, "I didn't set out to specifically target anyone. I just have a conviction to serve God, and I want to share that with the world."
She elaborates that while her musical style, which she calls "jazz Gospel" is a bit rare and sets her apart from the norm, she likes to look at the common denominator shared by her fellow Gospel artists. "All of us as recording artists share the same goal to make it to heaven, and to help others to get there as well."
Burrell agrees with most, that there have been significant changes to Gospel music over the past ten years. "The variety of music styles today make the music more accessible to, let's say, non-believers as well as believers."
Even as the album has continues to enjoy considerable success on Soundscan and Billboard Gospel charts, Kim Burrell's loyal audience base wants more. Look for her to continue to tour, and also to prepare for her next project.
"Right now I'm in the process of coming up with the concept for the next album, which is very exciting for me. [My plans are to] always keep God first and do whatever he says to do next."
Kim Burrell could legitimately be called the Gospel diva of the new millenium. And as for what the entry into this millenium will bring, she believes that God is saying, "Get ready church, we're going home!".
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