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Interview with Vocalist Kathy Ross

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by Mark Subel on March 29, 2012

JazzColumbus.com had a chance to sit down with local vocalist Katherine Kimbrough-Ross a few days ago to ask her more about her career as a musician, the car accident which almost sidelined her, and local Columbus jazz. After breaking her neck for the second time in a 2005 car accident, the lifelong vocalist and retired government employee assumed that her onstage days were finished. On the contrary, Kathy now performs regularly at the new Sidebar 122 and will continue performing her invigorating blend of tone, pitch, attitude and energy.

Katherine Kimbrough-Ross
Sidebar 122
Saturday, March 31st at 9pm

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How did you get started in music?

As a young child I sang in the choir at the church where I was born and raised and there was always music in our home.

What vocalists or artists influenced you the most in your development?

My Mother was a huge musical influence in my life when I was very young. She taught herself how to play piano and organ and she also sang. She played for our church choir. She loved to listen to those old 78’s and would sing along with the artists. She had hundreds of them. When I was older I began to listen to artist like Sarah Vaughan. She had a beautiful voice with a 2 1/2 octave range with no noticeable register transition. I also love Carmen Lundy. She writes most of her music with beautiful, meaningful lyrics, she arranges, and plays almost every instrument, she’s very creative and she too has a beautiful voice.

Can you give us a brief background of your career as a musician? Have you
been in Columbus for your career?

I have been in Columbus most of my life. I began sitting in with Bobby Floyd and his trio at the Stardust Lounge. I continued singing with other bands like Flip Jackson’s Variations in the late 80’s through the early 90’s. I also sang with a group called Bits and Pieces off and on from the mid 90’s until 1999. I sang with Hank Marr and the OSU Jazz Orchestra in 1999, The Broad and High Jazz Trio 2003 through 2004, and I did a few gigs with Gene Walker’s Generation Band around 2004 or 2005. I started my own band Alkebulan in 1998 and I have maintained my own band while performing with other bands. In 2004 I performed with the Broad and High Jazz Trio for the Grand Opening of the Brownstone Restaurant, but my band begin performing there shortly after the opening and we played there for one year.

What has been the biggest challenge after recovering from the auto accident?

After the accident I became very depressed I wasn’t sure I could live through the pain much less sing through it. I took a few years for me to get through rehab both physical, mental and voice. I still continue my physical therapy and voice therapy. Medication helps. Mentally I seem to be back on point, thanks to my Granddaughter Alexandra.

When you go out to see live jazz, who do you enjoy seeing perform in Columbus?

I haven’t been out much these past few years my surgery was in 09, however, I still enjoy listening to and watching Bobby Floyd perform. Try to make it to the Jazz and RibFest to catch the acts there, I try to catch Mary McMclendon and Jeanette Williams whenever I can, Big Bands I like to catch my friends Jimmy Seitzer and Mary Rose.

You’re scheduled to perform regularly at the new Sidebar 122. How did that come about and what do you enjoy about the venue?

In January 2012 I walked in to the SideBar expecting to take a Press Kit to the Operations Manager Jennifer Finley, This guy walked up to me introduced himself to me as the owner (Brian) we talked for about 30 minutes. I told him my story and that I had not been performing recently and why, and I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. I told him that if he and/or his guests were not satisfied with my performance he did not have to pay me, I would pay my band and we would leave. Long story short we are booked there through July 21st. I love the place. It’s home for me. The owner, the management and the staff are so good to me and my guys we love performing there. The atmosphere is different than when it was The Brownstone. It’s relaxed, the lighting is perfect, the ambiance is perfect and if you’re hungry the food is “To Die For”.

What can a listener expect to hear when they listen to a performance by you and your band?

My band performs the standards but some of them we put a very different twist on, some of them you may not even recognize. We do some folk songs, some pop songs, we try to keep it interesting and unsuspecting. We have a great sound. I play with some of the best musicians in town. Most have played on the road with some very popular, high dollar musicians.

What are your musical plans for the future?

I am working on my first CD. In fact I have the first four tracks mixed, some of which you’ll be able to hear on 102.1 FM Sat. April 7th at 2:00 p.m. My hope is that the CD does well. I would like to play other venues and other festivals in other cities as well as here in Columbus.

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