Kasey Lee Kimmons-Nelson
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Kasey Lee Kimmons-Nelson

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"Raw Emotion"

Kasey Kimmons may have followed in her father's footsteps as a singer/songwriter, but she has blazed her own trail through the music world locally, around the county and even in Europe.

Hailing from the tiny town of Shirley, she grew up watching her father, Tom Kimmons, "a fantastic musician" perform and he "started pushing instruments on me" but she was reluctant about playing.

She was drawn to singing and by the time she was 16 she won second place singing an a cappella version of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Memphis Mid-South Fair.

Kimmons started college at Kansas State University, but the music bug had already bitten and she left after one semester to pursue her singing, noting, "I couldn't make it to class because I would be out until two in the morning performing."

She eventually moved back to Arkansas and ended up in Fayetteville, where she soon joined a band called Ash after talking them into letting her sing at one of their gigs.

"They were playing in an octave I couldn't hit so I just kicked it up to the next level and belted it out," she said impressing them enough that they added her to their band.

The band broke up, but she and some of the members added a different bass player and lead guitar and formed a new band called Shortbus which "took over Fayetteville," becoming one of the three most popular, highest-paid bands in the college town.

"There weren't that many female singers out there then and even though we were a cover band, we rocked," she said, noting "that was the most fun project I've ever done."

The band played together in the area for five years, but when a new noise ordinance passed and smoking was banned in bars, the music scene started dying, Kimmons said.

"It was a big transitional phase and we weren't getting gigs and everyone was getting irritated," so in 2005 she left the band to go to Europe for six months, where she toured solo.

"That was fantastic," she said, noting she played in every country she went to where she would stay in hostels "playing for room and board."

"I got it down to a fine art," she said, "A lot of wheeling and dealing."

She returned to Fayetteville where she joined another band, Ultra Suede, a disco cover band where members wore colored wigs and sequins, although Kimmons didn't.

"I started to incorporate some other music and the band went from having three singers to just me," she said, noting the band played together for two years and were "a machine."

She said they played at weddings, parties, Wal-Marts, etc. and while "we were making the big bucks" it ultimately wasn't her style of music and encouraged her to work more on her solo career.

"I got good enough on guitar and was writing my own songs and just wanted to focus on something else," she said, and began picking up solo gigs around Fayetteville and in Little Rock and Hot Springs.

"Hot Springs has this amazing undiscovered solo musician scene" and she had family who lived here, so in 2007 she moved here full-time and started playing music all over town.

Recently, Kasey auditioned for American Idol in Kansas City, MO., and advanced past the first round but admitted "it was an awful time" and "not about the music at all."

"People way better than me got sent home and there were people a lot worse going through," she said. "I was really disgusted with it all."

So Kimmons entered an Arkansas-based talent competition "The Great Arkansas Talent Search" and "ended up winning the whole thing," which earned her the right to record a CD to be featured in a Virgin Records showcase. The CD is due out this month.

"I've never been able to force a song," she said. "All of my songs came when I was heart broken or depressed or at 4 a.m. in the morning."

"I get an idea and then it all comes out in about five minutes."

"When I'm happy I don't write a lot of songs," she said, laughing.

"I think I'm a better performer than I am a singer and I'm definitely a better singer than guitar player, but every song comes from something in my life that I had to get out."

She said whether she is playing at home for a few friends or 100 people or 1,000, "I just open up and it's that raw emotion that gets me an audience. I don't try to fake it because I'm not good at that."

Kimmons performs weekly gigs at Maxine's, 700 Central Ave., and also performs at other locations in Hot Springs and around the state. - Hot Springs On the Go

"Kimmons wins the big one."

MAUMELLE - Kasey Lee Kimmons of Shirley won the finals for the Great Arkansas Talent Search, which were held in Maumelle at the Jesse Odom Community Center.
As the final winner, Kimmons received $3,000 in cash, a phone and a musician’s development contract to boost her performance skills.
The talent search began during the summer when the staff of InfraRed Studios held tryouts in communities around the state, including Little Rock, Fayetteville, Jonesboro and West Memphis.
Kimmons was born and raised in Shirley where she has worked off and on at her family’s Shiitake Mushroom Center. She has been singing for the past 10 years in cover bands and as a solo singer/ songwriter. She plays the guitar as accompaniment when doing solo work. In Fayetteville, she sang with the group Shortbus, a cover band that focused primarily on rock and cover tunes in the local clubs. After retiring from Shortbus, she was the lead singer with Ultrasuede.
Kimmons said, “I have known for a long time that you don’t get far in this business without management, and that is what this contest offered. ... Ten years of practice, of working with bands, of being onstage gave me the confidence I needed to take this step. I tried American Idol - but, I’m glad I didn’t go there again. It seemed a lot better to work with people from home.” Last year Kimmons began doing solo work in Hot Springs. This was the first time to perform her own songs on stage.
During the talent finals, Kimmons performed “Son of a Preacher Man,” a Dusty Springfield tune, and “Bobby McGee” written by Kris Kristopherson and made famous by Janis Joplin.
Kimmons said, “When they called my name, it was one of the happiest times in my life. What I was competing for was a chance to work with first-rate professionals and a real opportunity to sign with Virgin Records. I expect to do well by them and I expect to give them what they are looking for.”
This article was published Thursday, November 27, 2008.
River Valley Ozark, Pages 95 on 11/27/2008

- River Valley Ozark


Kasey is currently recording her first full original studio CD. With a number of Live acoustic CD's recorded w/ original and cover songs, she is excited to be working in the studio recording her own songs.



From the heart of Arkansas' verdant Ozark Mountains, singer/songwriter
Kasey Kimmons is as natural as they get.
In short, she is a Southern lady and a hippie chick with a funky
streak. Instead of a medicine bag of wild fauna, her healing agents
are euphonious melodies and a songbird voice. Her original songs
strike chords of universal and timeless struggle and celebration of
the human condition. She sings with conviction, from the soul, and she
plays with passion.
Other than an RV, the singer travels light: Old gold chair/step
ladder, a microphone, and her guitar.
Kasey recognizes the power of words and the responsibility of saying
something important onstage.
In 2008, Kasey's music highway took her coast to coast with sets in
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, and Nashville.
When Kasey arrived back home she entered The Great Arkansas Talent Search. Among 400 singers, she came out on top and won a
recording/production showcase with Virgin Records Group. She is presently wrapping the recording process up in the studio.
When the musician turns songwriter it is early in the morning, usually
after an emotional upheaval. It takes discipline to get up at 4:30 and
sketch out a song from a sound in your head, but that's the way she
"I went a couple of years without writing any songs, so anytime I get
inspiration to write a song I'm going to get up and do it."
A bit of genetics come to play in how she got into this line of work.
She grew up around music and by the time she was 7 she was on tour
with her family singing onstage with her father's band, The Ozark
Operetta. Tom Kimmons, philosopher/folk musician, instilled her early
on with the love for music and life on the road. Her mother, the
manager, gave her the smarts on the business end.
"The road was our home during the summer months. We treated it like a long vacation because we were going to different places, having fun and doing what we loved to do." Kasey added