Musician comes home to perform
By Stephanie Wright
When Kimberlee performs at Border Books in Pleasant Hill on June 16, the appearance will serve as both a homecoming and a farewell.
Spending a large part of her childhood growing up in Concord and Clayton, the 31-year-old singer, songwriter and musician hasn't performed in Contra Costa since she graduated from college.
"I'm excited about it. A lot of people will remember me as Kimber," she says. "I used to perform the national anthem at a lot of the boxing events at the Concord Pavilion and sang at the (Concord Pavilion) Pops concert."
A graduate of Clayton Valley High School, she credits Phil St. Pierre as her original mentor.
"We ended up moving from Concord to Clayton when I was 13," Kimberlee says. "He just took me under his wing and took me to his gigs. He really influenced me initially and helped me to see the potential I had.
"I was pretty much a beginner and he was bringing me out to places like the Pioneer Inn and letting me perform."
While in high school she spent her Saturdays making the journey from Clayton to Oakland via BART to study with voice coach Judy Davis.
"My mom heard about her in People magazine. So she called and tried to get me into her vocal program," Kimberlee recalls. "I was about 12 or 13 at the time. Typically she didn't take students until 18 because of the development of the vocal chords but I had a mature voice and I was 15 when I was accepted into her program."
Originally attending college at the University of the Pacific, she transferred to Mills College. But she didn't study music at either school. Instead, she graduated with a double major in communications and philosophy. She says studying the latter helped to enrich her songwriting.
As for her style of music, she describes it as "soulful rock. That's what I've come up with. It's been hard to typify myself, but that's the question people ask."
"I come from a background of country, blues and rock and roll, so I wanted to combine all of those different styles."
She recently self-produced her first CD, entitled "Learning How to Love," that features five songs, including "Love Never Fails."
In July, she and her husband Matthew Leber plan to move to Los Angeles to go into the studio to record with producer Paul Lawrence, who's worked with several Capitol Records artists.
"I've been waiting for a long time and I'm really going for it," Kimberlee says of the move. "I've had a lot of corporate jobs. If it weren't for the support of my husband, I would still be working during the day and pursuing my music at night."
Kimberlee and her backup band EvenNow will perform from 8-10 p.m. Friday, June 16, at Borders Books and Music, 36 Monument Plaza in Pleasant Hill. Her CD can be purchased at Borders Books and Music and at Tower Records in Concord.
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