[INTERVIEW] Kim Tibbs Took Her Music To The Next Level With London Move
Meet Kim Tibbs – The Emerald Queen
A professional artist, musician, singer/songwriter and mom, Kim Tibbs is doing it all Southern soul style. A down South born and bred vocalist and instrumentalist, Tibbs recently made the move to London to pursue her music and it is paying off with successful singles and a building fan base.
Creating Soul music with a goal of leaving her mark on generations to come, much like the legends of past, Tibbs notes her music influences as a number of greats including Prince, Whitney Houston and Aaliyah to Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, Natalie Cole. Even current artists like The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, OutKast, Debra Killings and Fred Hammond inspire her sound.
Honoring her father for his inspiration and guidance into the world of music, Kim shares her beginnings and the stories behind her success. From her faith in God to hard work and dedication, Kim “The Emerald Queen” is scaling the soul music scene.
Here forthcoming album, …Kim will be available on August 25, 2017 under her label, Expansion Records UK.
Parlé Mag: When did you first discover your passion for music?
Kim Tibbs: Well, for me, I was a young child when I began music. Like at age two, I was already up on the piano trying to figure out melodies. My first song that I played, according to my mother, was the “Young and Restless” theme song. From there, my father allowed me his total time and attention to truly teach me how to do certain things. After formally learning how to read music by Dr. Henrene Smoot, and learning gospel music chords by Mrs. Joyce Brown, I was well on my way. Although I was formally trained, I started to listen to the music that appealed to me which was 1970’s stuff like Al Green, Wilson Pickett, or Sade, and even stuff like Tina Turner and others. It was my high school years that really showcased my love of music. I would sit in class with a guy named, Andre Wainwright, and we would sing songs together. As soon as I left high school, I knew that I was going to do something that had to do with music, but I wasn’t sure just what. Around 1999, I met a guy named James Bussy, who is now deceased, tragically. James would be the instrumental person that actually spent time showing me how to “co-write” songs. With James, he would do musical ballads, and the poems that I started writing, turned into songs. It was at that moment in my life that I knew music was going to be my life.
Parlé Mag: It still took some years before music would become your focus, what were you doing in the mean time?
Kim Tibbs: As I began trying to perfect my sound, I entered into Calhoun Community College where I was a Nursing student. But, as an elective course, I took some Music Industry Communications courses under a man named Jimmy Cantrell. Jimmy Cantrell is instrumental in my life because it was his push that led me to do an open audition for a songwriter by the name of Philip White, who was a former student of Calhoun Community College. I sang and played a song for Philip, and all I could remember was that I saw him take off running to his car, bring me back a CD, and asked me how soon I could get to Nashville? I literally was in Nashville the next day and from that moment, history was made. That particular moment was what launched my professional passion for music. But, the memories of my late father, Pastor Robert L. Tibbs, are where the true drive toward music happened. His beliefs in me and my ability are what helped me to become successful as well as a fearless player in the music world!
Parlé Mag: How would you describe your style of music?
Kim Tibbs: My sound is very modern, with a throwback to vintage music. You will hear horns, Hammond Organ, Guitar, Bass, Live Drums, and lyrics that actually matter. You hear the breaths of each horn player, because it is played live throughout all of my songs. I have been compared to a modern-day Patti Labelle, that sings, while playing a Hammond B-3 Organ; The Jones Girls, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, but I have my own modern twist to how I organize my sound. My producer and I, Regi Myrix, believe in complementing each other. What he specializes in are NOT my strengths, but what I specialize in aren’t the areas he totally performs in so together, we make a perfect blend and a perfect sound. My sound is very Gospel sounding, widely Jazz influenced, caters to Folk Soul, but with a clean and harmless message usually catering to love.
Parlé Mag: What has the response from the fans been like to your music?
Kim Tibbs: People have responded to it greatly, which is shocking and I am really humbled by the response just because people don’t have to accept you or your sound, which makes me excited, speechless, but completely beyond belief.
Parlé Mag: DJs say your sound is unique, what would you say makes you and your sound so different?
Kim Tibbs: Well, my sound is different because you hear what is considered soul music, but you don’t hear soul music that is truly good soul music often in today’s music world. I know my opinion is my opinion, but I am honest and think that my sound is one that is classic in the making, but also something that will hopefully be around in the next 40 years. When I write music, I am thinking about longevity and wondering just what needs to be done in order for me to stand out from the next artist. Maybe it is the Hammond organ, the Horns, or the lyrical events taking place in the songs, but I am always thinking about what needs to be in my sound to make sure that I sound original and always different.
Parlé Mag: As you mentioned, you’re a musician, and a versatile one at that. Would you say you were born to do this?
Kim Tibbs: Yes. I would say that I was born to do this thing called music. I would say that I truly feel that God allowed me to be on this earth to be able to make some people and their ears musically happy. I am a devote Christian and have recently been under the influence of Prophet Luther McKinstry III, new Pastor of New Faith Christian Church in the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan Area. When I first heard him speak, he was speaking about sustainable faith and it made me seriously sit confused. I say that I sat confused because I am one that has been a church goer and my sound instrumentally reflects that of the deep south. But, sitting there that night, I felt like my heart was ripped from me because I was stumped on just what I was doing and why I was doing it. At that very moment, I could see that I had faith, but didn’t have the amount of faith to seriously feel like anything that I touched would turn into what I was looking for. Hearing his words, that night as I drove home, I revisited my thoughts as a kid and thought about just what I thought I would do in my adult years and amazingly, I am currently doing it all: Moved to London, I am pursuing a serious music career as a professional artist, musician, and songwriter. Becoming a mom. And taking every day as they come, one by one. Before I die, I will be the girl that said, “I actually did everything I dreamed of doing, “ and not the other way around.
Parlé Mag: You have a master’s degree in organizational leadership and you’re working towards a doctorate of business administration in leadership. Would you say your skills in leadership comes from your father, Pastor Robert L Tibbs?
Kim Tibbs: I have two separate master’s degrees and honestly, when I started my journey as a college student, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life as it related to an actual career. I KNEW I wanted to do music professionally, but my wonderful father, the late Pastor Robert L. Tibbs, would always let me hear his opinion daily as it related to what he thought about a career choice. He didn’t mind so much that I wanted to do music, but wanted to make sure that I was also looking toward my future and making sure that I had something to fall back on in case the music career choice didn’t work for me. I would always tell him that he was wrong and that I was going to prove him wrong and show him that you can do anything that you wish to do if you put in the work to make sure that you are succeeding. Yes, I am working on a Doctorate degree of Business Administration in Leadership and I would say that my skills came from BOTH my late father and my wonderful and vibrant mother. Most people don’t know that it was my mother that discovered my musical gift when I was less than 2 years old. She would sit me in front of the television as a child and I would hear the ‘Young and Restless’ Theme song every day, and she said that I walked over to the piano and started playing it. Mom has been an instrumental part of my life as she is part of my confidence as well. She would always be the first one to tell me to continue doing what I love, ignore people and their opinions, and do what makes me happy. My mom also has a Master’s degree and I am thankful to have grown up with two parents, two ministers as parents, but two parents that instilled the importance of education in the household. So, I can’t let my dad take the full credit on that part alone, as mom was just as much a leader in her own right.
Parlé Mag: You’ve recently moved to the UK. What are some hopes you have and wish to see flourish with this move?
Kim Tibbs: When I decided to make the move, I wasn’t sure how to do everything. I was scared, but excited. I was anxious, but emotional. I was torn, but almost overwhelmed as I knew that if I didn’t make sure that I had everything done correctly, it could have detrimental responses later. Moving to the United Kingdom has given me a new confidence as I have had the opportunity to really experience different cultures by the hundreds and thousands. Seeing new sites, driving on the wrong side of the road, getting used to the “Pound” versus the dollar, experiencing new cuisine, making new friendships, making great friendships, and just being in a place where people are truly supporting my sound is just amazing. I can’t explain to you how wonderful I felt just a few days back when I was shooting my first Official video and people under the London Eye ran to me because they recognized me and asked for my picture! I was completely overwhelmed to be a little girl from Alabama, being sought out by a crowd in London, United Kingdom. I was so excited that I started screaming with them. (Laughs). I want to travel and being here allows me to be so close to so many unseen regions of beautiful countries. I am excited to see things I studied in my own American history as a kid so the main hope is to be here 40 years from now still striving.
Parlé Mag: How does it feel to have a number spot on the soul charts for four weeks?! At such an early start of your career?
Kim Tibbs: Honestly, when I released my music, I had no idea that it would catch on and be so big! I started working with my business partner, Regi Myrix, last year on September 14, 2016. He would send me unfinished/finished beats and I would add elements to them that really made them cater to my sound. Out of our “swap” moments, we birthed something that people noticed all over the world. It sounded like a throwback to vintage music, but it was very modern and to be honest, the very first time I heard myself on the radio, I cried. When I found out that I was Number #1 on the Official U.K. Soul Charts for TWO Separate Songs, “I Need You For Your Love” and “Soul!,” I found this out on my late father’s birthday, November 20, 2016. I remember it like yesterday because I felt like it was the greatest birthday present that I could have given him to let him know that the music career choice was working out very well for me. To capture a Number #1 spot and stick there for 4 weeks is unheard of in today’s times as music changes and people’s taste buds toward music change also! So, although I wasn’t too new to the music industry, no one knew me as “the artist” Kim Tibbs, but more as the musician.
This is still such a new thing. Like having to do radio jingles or voiceover’s is not something I thought I would be doing, but being able to turn on radio stations in 31 different countries right now, I can almost guarantee that one of my songs will be played and that is a humbling blessing because this time last year, no one knew who I was musically. It doesn’t seem real to see my name on top of charts, included in charts, or affiliated with past charts (as what I later found out that with radio shows, it is a permanent thumbprint that will remain once being included in the production of it). In my career, I am thankful to be where I am today and know that with hard work, I will and shall continue to keep pressing forward doing some amazing things if I keep God first and remain true to the artist that I want to be.
Parlé Mag: What are the pros and cons of releasing four singles at the same time? Was this your decision?
Kim Tibbs: With any sort of business deal, there will always be a pro and con. For me, as it relates to placing my sound out in the universe, NO, I made no attempt to purposely release 4 songs at the same time. You don’t see well known artists do that let alone a new kid on the block. I ended up releasing so many songs at the same because some were released in other parts of the world before others, while, others requested more music to be sent to them. So, when I released the new music to the people that requested my sound, I ended up releasing those songs as people did what I hoped that they would do and that was to play them! Now, it was a risky gamble, but I am excited that taking a slight risk paid off for me and made me truly see that I was not going to be in a situation where I would lack or need anything as presenting my sound also made so many more doors open, while also introduced me to so many people. The slight introduction that was given gave me just the needed amount of a boost to be considered a go-to music entity and now again, the rest is history.
Parlé Mag: You have an impressive list of musician’s producers and writers that you have worked with. What does it feel like when you get that level of support from big talent.
Kim Tibbs: I am just a small person. I never look at me as anything more than a servant just because I don’t want to become a less humble person. When I look at all the many people that I have worked with, it is really a humbling and tearjerker moment. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have any connection to Billy Ray Cyrus or The Blind Boys of Alabama or even Al Green, but I do. It makes me feel so good that several top artists, producers, songwriters, and labels have trusted me over the years to develop, perfect, record, sing, write, oo work with their acts. It also told me a few things…
For one, it told me that having a positive and good running record of being on time, knowing the music once being called upon, and making sure to be professional had gotten me where I needed to be. It is one thing to show up to a recording session drunk, smoking all over the place, using horrible language, or just looking bad in general, but it also makes you not become the most ideal person that people will want to play with. Plus, pure skill is something that goes hand and hand as well. A lot of why I have gotten the opportunity to work with so many people is because of not turning down a lot of different genres of music while also trying to do the best job that I could do to make sure that I get asked back again. It is important to note that it is very hard to get gigs in the first place ESPECIALLY being a female. I always have this conversation all the time about how gigs are not the same paying ones, available ones, nor ones that are safe enough for women to be on. But, in my career, I can honestly say that I have not really been in places that weren’t safe while also did not have to worry about too many hardships.
Parlé Mag: What can fans expect from you next, in terms of music releases?
Kim Tibbs: So, for the fans out there that do support my sound, I am excited to share that the album, …Kim, is already finished! It packs a solid soul punch of 12 songs and is currently in the Mixing/Mastering process in Germany as we speak! I am going to have a summer release and that is the most exciting news in the whole interview just because I am going to be able to respond to those that are hungry for my sound and give them the very thing that they are looking for and that is more music! I can also proudly say that I will also be doing shows in the USA, the UK, and looking at picking up a major tour leading more to the Fall, 2017. What I do know is that for people to really know your sound, you must get out and play places for people to have opportunities to discover you, listen to you, and then (fingers crossed) like you! And for me, that is my true dream to release new music and get on the road soon!
Parlé Mag: Being a woman in business has its challenges, where do you go to find strength and encouragement when you need it most?
Kim Tibbs: That is an easy question. I look to God for my most hurtful days, yet I turn to him for my everything as he is the one that I feel has gotten me to this point as well as the one to get me beyond it. The second person I turn to believe it or not is my son. My son is the most amazing 11-year-old boy in the world. He knows just what I am thinking, has my ability to read into situations, and can discuss what he feels in such an effective and adult way. There are so many challenges in doing business today. The challenge of whether people will buy your product, whether you will be able to pay bills after making products, and so many more concerns are all there as it relates to business owners, but doing what I do, thankfully, I can always say that I have never gone through a moment in life where music wasn’t needed on some note. Having the side hobby for me that later grew into the professional business has been a life saver and a true moment where I give thanks daily. Before my father passed in February 2010, I could pick the phone up and before I would even speak, my father would know if something was bothering me or not. He used to be the main boosting moment for my confidence daily, but although I miss him, I still have comfort in knowing that he is looking down smiling at me. My mother, my siblings, and the few friends that are more like family that I have, know my voice and can tell when something is wrong so I instantly have the confidence just in one moment of speaking to any of them. In all, I am a strong person, but do have a strong support system around me so it thankfully has come with strength and encouragement.
Parlé Mag: They say if you believe it to be true then it will be. What’s one thing that hasn’t happened yet in your career that you believe with all your heart to be true one day.
Kim Tibbs: I truly believe that I am going to be the Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards one day. And an Album of the Year and a Billboard Award Recipient. I say this because my musical abilities are so diverse where the right song is just around the corner for me and I know that it will happen. Everything that I have already spoken into existence has happened in the past, and I MEAN EVERYTHING. I have had some awesome things to take place, and so for me, the moment at the Grammys with the Best New Artist, or Album of the Year is huge as I want to make music that will impact the entire world. And I believe it will happen. Just watch!
Parlé Mag: What three words describe Kim Tibbs in 2017?
Kim Tibbs: The Emerald Queen…
Parlé Mag: What advice do you have for young artists trying to find success in music?
Kim Tibbs: For the young artists wishing for a break, do yourself a favor first, and don’t be hard on YOU. I was truly 19 when I really entered the music industry. This journey is not an easy one or everyone that pushed out to be a part of it would be successful. You must display patience. If you are going to be successful, you must be patient enough to know exactly what you really want and don’t look any day at your right now circumstances and NEVER let that be your ending thoughts. I would suggest less to zero drugs, no alcohol, and do yourself a favor and create music that people are going to turn their heads toward because they were not expecting it! I would suggest that you do yourself a great favor by reinvesting in you…If you make money at all in the craft, stash 50 percent of it away in an account you can’t access. I would suggest that you should not be afraid to really showcase yourself. Go after your art and make sure you always know how to remain humble with a good attitude. Lastly, when people in the industry call you, always call them back or at least pick the phone up when they call. People miss gigs all the time from me because they don’t pick the phone up but claim they want to move forward in their careers to the next level. If you can’t master the art of answering a telephone or responding to emails, you aren’t going to really move forward anywhere. Also, get to know social media. Social media is now what is driving the music industry so deals like 20 and 30 years ago through major record labels aren’t heard of anymore. Do your research and make sure that when you are going through the process of writing songs, pulling together material, and making your own sound, make sure that you are giving the best possible sound that represents you and represents what you are trying to sound like in 40 years. Also, make connections and don’t be afraid to network as networking is the only way to really push outside the walls of the elite groups that exist. With your music, you easily have the ability to leave a thumbprint, so do it in style! Don’t worry about others: Stay true to you and be the best you that you can be!!!
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