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An Interview with Singer/Songwriter Kim Parent
Kim Parent Releases New CD, Love is Just a Word
By Cindy Beth Gordon
(more articles from this author)
2004-08-30
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I recently had the pleasure of talking with one of Nashville’s finest demo/backup singers, who is one of my personal favorites - Kim Parent. Originally from Middletown, NJ, Kim Parent has been called “The Singer’s Singer”- and for good reason. She’s backed up many of today’s biggest stars. Kim’s vocals can be heard on CDs by Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Reba Mc Entire, Joe Diffie, Sherrie Austin, Jessica Andrews, Aaron Tippin, Billy Rae Cyrus, Kenny Rogers, Don Williams, Phil Vasser, and many other artists. She has been listed in Music Row Magazine’s Top Ten Award for singing on the most country hits of 2001.

Kim is also an experienced live performer. She’s performed with Brooks and Dunn, Martina McBride, Billy Dean, Tammy Cochran, Billy Gilman, Rodney Crowell, Lynne Anderson and Tanya Tucker. She has toured nationally with The Scorpions and appeared on numerous TV shows, including NBC’s “Late Night with Craig Kilborn,” and The 2001 and 2003 “Country Music Awards Broadcast.” Kim signed a publishing deal with Zomba Music in 1992, and again in the late ‘90s with Don Goodman music. She’s had songs cut by other artists, and she has also written and recorded jingles for radio and television. She wrote, produced and sang two versions of the “Let’s Make it a Late Night” jingle campaign for Wendy’s.

Kim began her career in music singing at coffee houses while attending the University of Delaware. She then returned to her home state of New Jersey in order to showcase original material in nearby New York City. These showcases eventually landed her the publishing deal, which brought her to Nashville, where she and her husband permanently reside. For more information, check out Kim Parent’s website at www.kimparent.com.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Hi Kim, it’s great to talk with you. So you’re currently promoting your debut CD, When Love Was Just a Word. It’s a great record. I really enjoyed listening to it. Where can folks buy your CD, find out your performance dates and additional information?

Kim Parent People can buy a copy of the CD at www.kimparent.com. It’s also on the record label at www.itsaboutmusic.net . You have to be invited to be on that label, it’s not just anybody who wants to be there. I’m hoping I’m in good company.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Are you currently performing at all?

Kim Parent Yes, the dates are on my website. I have been playing at the Bluebird, 3rd & Lindsey, both in Nashville. I’m trying to play about once a month or so. I will be up near New Jersey in Longwood Gardens. I’m trying to drum up some of my local people to come out there and see me.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] When is that gig?

Kim Parent It’s October 9th, on a Saturday. It’s listed on the website. It’s an afternoon show, and we start at 2:30 p.m. It will be me and two other women, Lisa Johnson and Geri Smith. I met them at college at the University of Delaware when I first got into music. At different points in my career, I appeared with both of these women. We’ve all gone in separate directions, married and divorced, had jobs and lost jobs, and now we’re sort of reuniting for an afternoon show at Longwood Gardens. It’s going to be called “Modern Day Gypsies” because of the way we’ve lived our lives for the past 20 years. I was in a band with Lisa Johnson that was pretty popular for a while – it was called the Parent-Johnson band. And Geri Smith and I were in a band, too. Geri has two or three CDs out and Lisa has one. It will be a fun afternoon.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] And how long have you lived in Nashville now?

Kim Parent I’ve been here about ten years.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] What has it been like living and working there?

Kim Parent It’s been much kinder and gentler than when I lived up in New Jersey. I did mostly live work up there and when I moved down here, almost instantly, I had mostly studio work – usually the money is a lot better, the hours are much more manageable, you’re home by 6 or 7 p.m. It was just a much kinder, gentler life. Also the expenses went down because it doesn’t cost as much to live here and driving is easier - it’s not as congested so people aren’t as stressed out. I spent a lot of time in my car, so that meant a lot to me.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Were there any big breaks for you along the way?

Kim Parent I think a big break for me was when I first moved down here - I already had a publishing deal in place with Zomba Music. Most people, when they come down here, they really have to fight and struggle and knock on a lot of doors. So even though I still had to work during my first year here, it wasn’t enough money to live on, but I had somewhere to park my tail everyday to write songs and some guidance and demo support. That was a big break and also a learning curve for me. I was with Zomba for three years. Also I was on RCA Records twice.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] On your CD, Love is Just a Word, what are your favorite songs and what inspired them?

Kim Parent I tried to make it easy for people to remember the ones that I think are really special. The very first song on the CD is one of my favorites - it’s called “Learn to Love.” I really liked the message. I put that one first so that people would be sure to hear it. The title track of the CD, “Love is Just a Word,” is probably one of the best songs on the CD. I wanted the title of that song to be on people’s minds so I figured I should title the record that. The very last song, “I Don’t Feel Single,” has been a favorite of a lot of people for many, many years -- it’s stood the test of time. I put it last because I figure people remember especially the first and last songs on CDs.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Who were the co-writers on those songs?

Kim Parent I cowrote “Learn to Love” with Tom Cunningham. He’s an American who actually married a German girl. He lives in Germany with her and their child. Jim Kimball, George Teren and I wrote “When Love was Just a Word.” George is enjoying major success now. He has had singles on the charts all year. And the song, “I Don’t Feel Single,” is also co-written with George Teren.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] You sang backup on Faith Hill’s “Breath” record. What was that experience like?

Kim Parent Well, I hate to tell you but when you’re doing background vocals it’s usually not usually very glamorous, and the stars are usually nowhere to be found. Basically, when you’re doing backup vocals, it’s the last thing that happens. Everything else has to be done prior to that. You’re coming in at the end of the project, you don’t see any of the players, you usually don’t see the artist. It’s just hard work because you have to match all the little nuances. It takes between two to four hours to do one song, so you’re hearing the same song over a four-hour period. I’ve been doing some live dates with Brooks & Dunn and that’s fun because it’s live. I did the ACM and the CMAs and the People’s Choice awards as a backup singer for them, and there’s a little glamour there -- you get a makeup artist and get to dress the part, so I’ve been having fun with that. They're legends. It’s been neat just being able to watch them from 10-15 ft away. They’re both very gracious and down to earth. I'm doing some spot dates with them.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Who are some of your favorite singers and artists who have inspired you?

Kim Parent Tina Turner has always inspired me – I don’t think she’s thinking about it, she just comes completely from her gut, which is something I’d like to learn how to do. Anne Wilson from Heart – she’s always inspired me. I went to see her this year and she blew me away. And Celine Dion is probably my all around favorite singer. I’ve never seen her live; I’m dying to see her play live.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Any advice to aspiring songwriters and artists?

Kim Parent My favorite thing that I’ve been saying lately is that I think this is a great town to live in, if someone wants to come here and try to break in, but make sure you’ve got a job. The reason I’m saying that is not because I’m expecting people to fail - just because someone has a job doesn’t mean they’ve failed in the music industry. The reason I’m saying that is that I’ve seen too many people who have a lot of talent - bucketloads of talent - worrying about money because they’re waiting for the big break. That’s why I think it’s important to just work, even if it’s 20 hours a week somewhere and maybe doing a live gig once a week just so that you can breathe. I’m sure a lot of people do it that way because they’re smart, but I’m just talking about the people who are real diehards like I was at one point, and it’s just so much harder – take better care of yourself, go get a job so that you can go out on weekends and have a steak if you want it.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Have you sent your CD to radio at all?

Kim Parent No, I’ve never had a CD out and have never done this before so if anyone is reading this article and has any suggestions for me, that would be great. I’ve never done much self-promotion or marketing. I’m not a sales person so that would be the only other thing I would say.

[Cindy Beth Gordon] You have a Neil Young song on your record, “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” Why did you choose to cover one of his songs on your CD?

Kim Parent I did a Neil Young cover song because when I was growing up for some reason, I spent a lot of time by myself. I would sit out in the backyard and play. I wrote Neil a letter because I had to send him a license fee. I wanted him to know that he really helped me. He was just following his dream and writing songs that hardly make any sense by our standards nowadays. But I used to play and sing his songs when I was a kid and it used to make me feel better. And so that’s why I cut one of his songs, in respect for what he did for me. It’s called “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.”

[Cindy Beth Gordon] Well that’s about all the time we have. Thanks Kim. It’s been great talking with you. Wishing you much continued success with your CD and everything.

Kim Parent Thanks, Cindy. For more information on Kim Parent, to buy her CD, When Love Was Just a Word and/or to check out her upcoming performances, check out her website at www.kimparent.com.


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