Interview With Kim Burrell
The beauty of a song, and the power of a ministry it's so often the result of being faithful and enduring through suffering. That's not always obvious sometimes, especially when the ministry or the song is so free from the signs of the hardship. But that's the way God works. Ask Donnie McClurkin. Ask Kim Burrell.
— interview by Stan North —
On her latest project, Live In Concert from Tommy Boy Gospel, Burrell delivers the complete diva package, with a marathon of runs and vocal thrills, layered and layered on her message of the victory of living in Jesus Christ.
Yet for those in attendance for the recording in November 2000 in Memphis, the technical difficulties that evidenced themselves, seemed at times overwhelming. How was the Houston native able to pull through and emerge with such a fine sounding project? For Burrell, the answer is powerfully simple.
"God was in control".
That's her consistent theme, and a reality that she was aware of from way back. She knew at an early age that singing was in her blood. Around the time of her Tommy Boy Gospel debut in 1998, she explained how she started at the incredible age of one (see sidebar below for the link to our 1998 interview).
From there to GMWA appearances, solo efforts on choir projects, and a couple of well-received solo albums on Pearl Records, the word was out that this singer with the intriguingly raspy pipes was someone you needed to hear.
But a close examination of her self-penned lyrics hinted at that suffering that results in glory, for Burrell often refers to a time when she was "sick in [her] body". There is a testimony behind that:
"Yes, I had double pneumonia for eight years as a child. On the
eighth year, God healed me, and I've never suffered again."
Click on each of the above images
to check out the related features.
Musically, she is hard to describe. Anointed, yes, unique, yes and with plenty of fans within the Gospel and R&B worlds. Some describe the Kim Burrell sound as particularly Texan, with fellow 'big state' vocalists such as Nikki Ross and Rhonda McLemore also falling into that bracket. But Burrell doesn't claim to take the influence from any source in particular. It's a 'from within' thing.
"God knows I don't try to sound like anyone. He gave me this pure gift."
With runs and a 'quick singing' approach to much of her material, the one quality that Burrell admires most in other singers remains the anointing. Shirley Caesar is the one singer that she chooses to mention.
"Staying focused on God's will in my music and not allowing people's desire influence me" is the overriding challenge that she faces musically. "I would like to offer vocal coaching to other singers, but time doesn't permit me right now".
Indeed the schedule is hectic, for not only does she sing and play, but she also took on the role of co-producer on her current project, along with Percy Bady and Jimane Nelson. She sees herself producing for other artists as well, at some point.
In a comment that is bound to send shivers of excitement down the spines of many aspiring in the industry, she says, "Yes! No doubt! I'd like to product for unknown new artists."
In the meantime, aside from spinning her new album daily in her own stereo system (that's the only CD she's got in there these days), she's already at work on her next project, this one a studio effort. It's one in which collaborations will be abundant. "I'm working with Stevie Wonder, Deitrick Haddon, Chaka Khan and Eric Dawkins".
With final words, Kim Burrell clarified the one thing that is most frequently misunderstood about her, which is her personality. "That's because I take my ministry so seriously. I'm actually fun and loving."
Oh, and for the advice that she has for all young singers and musicians desiring for a full time music ministry?
All content in GospelFlava.com ©
copyright 2001. No
information to be reprinted or re-broadcast from this site without the expressed
written consent of GospelFlava.com. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed in GospelFlava.com articles do not
necessarily reflect the opinions of GospelFlava.com