An Interview with Singer/Songwriter Kim Parent
Kim Parent Releases New CD, Love is Just a Word
I recently had the pleasure of talking with one of Nashvilleís finest demo/backup singers, who is one of my personal favorites - Kim Parent. Originally from Middletown, NJ, Kim Parent has been called ďThe Singerís SingerĒ- and for good reason. Sheís backed up many of todayís biggest stars. Kimís 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 Magazineís Top Ten Award for singing on the most country hits of 2001.
Kim is also an experienced live performer. Sheís 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 NBCís ďLate Night with Craig Kilborn,Ē and The 2001 and 2003 ďCountry Music Awards Broadcast.Ē Kim signed a publishing deal with Zomba Music in 1992, and again in the late Ď90s with Don Goodman music. Sheís 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 ďLetís Make it a Late NightĒ jingle campaign for Wendyís.
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 Parentís website at www.kimparent.com.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Hi Kim, itís great to talk with you. So youíre currently promoting your debut CD, When Love Was Just a Word. Itís 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. Itís also on the record label at www.itsaboutmusic.net . You have to be invited to be on that label, itís not just anybody who wants to be there. Iím hoping Iím 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. Iím trying to play about once a month or so. I will be up near New Jersey in Longwood Gardens. Iím 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 Itís October 9th, on a Saturday. Itís listed on the website. Itís 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. Weíve all gone in separate directions, married and divorced, had jobs and lost jobs, and now weíre sort of reuniting for an afternoon show at Longwood Gardens. Itís going to be called ďModern Day GypsiesĒ because of the way weíve lived our lives for the past 20 years. I was in a band with Lisa Johnson that was pretty popular for a while Ė 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 Iíve been here about ten years.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] What has it been like living and working there?
Kim Parent Itís 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 Ė usually the money is a lot better, the hours are much more manageable, youíre home by 6 or 7 p.m. It was just a much kinder, gentler life. Also the expenses went down because it doesnít cost as much to live here and driving is easier - itís not as congested so people arenít 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 wasnít 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 - itís called ďLearn to Love.Ē 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, ďLove is Just a Word,Ē is probably one of the best songs on the CD. I wanted the title of that song to be on peopleís minds so I figured I should title the record that. The very last song, ďI Donít Feel Single,Ē has been a favorite of a lot of people for many, many years -- itís 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 ďLearn to LoveĒ with Tom Cunningham. Heís an American who actually married a German girl. He lives in Germany with her and their child. Jim Kimball, George Teren and I wrote ďWhen Love was Just a Word.Ē George is enjoying major success now. He has had singles on the charts all year. And the song, ďI Donít Feel Single,Ē is also co-written with George Teren.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] You sang backup on Faith Hillís ďBreathĒ record. What was that experience like?
Kim Parent Well, I hate to tell you but when youíre doing background vocals itís usually not usually very glamorous, and the stars are usually nowhere to be found. Basically, when youíre doing backup vocals, itís the last thing that happens. Everything else has to be done prior to that. Youíre coming in at the end of the project, you donít see any of the players, you usually donít see the artist. Itís just hard work because you have to match all the little nuances. It takes between two to four hours to do one song, so youíre hearing the same song over a four-hour period. Iíve been doing some live dates with Brooks & Dunn and thatís fun because itís live. I did the ACM and the CMAs and the Peopleís Choice awards as a backup singer for them, and thereís a little glamour there -- you get a makeup artist and get to dress the part, so Iíve been having fun with that. They're legends. Itís been neat just being able to watch them from 10-15 ft away. Theyíre 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 Ė I donít think sheís thinking about it, she just comes completely from her gut, which is something Iíd like to learn how to do. Anne Wilson from Heart Ė sheís 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. Iíve never seen her live; Iím dying to see her play live.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Any advice to aspiring songwriters and artists?
Kim Parent My favorite thing that Iíve 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 youíve got a job. The reason Iím saying that is not because Iím expecting people to fail - just because someone has a job doesnít mean theyíve failed in the music industry. The reason Iím saying that is that Iíve seen too many people who have a lot of talent - bucketloads of talent - worrying about money because theyíre waiting for the big break. Thatís why I think itís important to just work, even if itís 20 hours a week somewhere and maybe doing a live gig once a week just so that you can breathe. Iím sure a lot of people do it that way because theyíre smart, but Iím just talking about the people who are real diehards like I was at one point, and itís just so much harder Ė 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, Iíve 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. Iíve never done much self-promotion or marketing. Iím 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, ďOnly Love Can Break Your Heart.Ē 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 thatís why I cut one of his songs, in respect for what he did for me. Itís called ďOnly Love Can Break Your Heart.Ē
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Well thatís about all the time we have. Thanks Kim. Itís 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.