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Kimberly Kelly stands 5’2’’ with perfectly feathered hair, bell bottoms and a belt buckle almost as big as her personality.
With her megawatt smile and unmistakable throwback style, she lights up every room she enters. But don’t let the glamorous Farrah Fawcett-inspired hair fool you: this girl is the country music you’ve been missing.
Born just outside of Waco, Texas in the tiny town of Lorena, Kimberly’s childhood was a very musical one. Her grandfather Sterling Kelly fronted a band called Sterling Kelly and the Hearts and was a fixture in the Texas country music scene. Her father was a mechanic who blasted anything from Stevie Nicks to Lynyrd Skynyrd in his truck as they rode into town. Her mother, a hairdresser, introduced both her and her singer-songwriter sister to Patty Loveless and Gary Stewart as the three racked up the miles in their old Honda hatchback. In fact, there aren’t many memories from Kimberly’s early days that didn’t involve music.
“It’s my common connection with other people,” Kelly says.
It’s her way of communicating, evident in the conversational nature of her songs. Listening to her melodies and lyrics is like talking with an old friend in a swaying porch swing. It’s real and you feel it. Part of Kelly’s lyrical magic lies in her humor and heart, and her willingness to be frank and hold nothing back from her audience.
“I want my music to say ‘I feel you.’ That’s so important to me,” Kelly says with such sincerity.
“We’re all living our different lives but at some point we’ve felt the same feelings, and I think those emotions are tapped into through songs. Sometimes it’s a beer drinking song—I’ve felt the same way you’ve felt getting ready for a night out. I’ve had my heart broken and been homesick. So I want my songs to tell people, ‘I’ve been there, too.’ Live it up, whatever moment you’re in. We’re in this thing together.”
And there are some of those very songs in Kelly’s catalogue. There’s “Daddy’s 8-Track,” a nostalgic reflection on her father’s musical taste and influence in her formative years. And “Put Some Lipstick On It,” an empowering revenge anthem for the brokenhearted. But then there’s the love songs, like “Don’t Blame It On Me,” a ballad trenched so deeply in Countrypolitan romance that you feel like you’re floating across the floor at Gilley’s with Bud and Sissy.
But no matter the melodic or lyrical variation, one thing is consistent about Kelly: she’s stone cold country in every shape, form and fashion.
“I try not to be influenced by trends,” Kelly says with a smile. “Sure, I listen to all kinds of music. But at the end of the day, I know what’s in my heart, and I always come back to it: country music. I always have and I always will.”
That’s a promise we can all count on.
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“Kimberly has an incredible honesty in her songs and her voice. Her songs are about real life, and you can hear it all in her voice —the pain, the love, the joy, the sass. She isn’t just singing a line, she’s living it, and she will make you believe it every time.” - Radney Foster