Winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Media, 2019


Kari Kirkland Interview.

by Ian Mann

February 19, 2022

Guest contributor Tom Brumpton interviews California based jazz vocalist, and former trapeze artist, Kari Kirkland on the release of her new album "Wild Is The Wind".


Current Album: Wild Is The Wind


1.You were a trapeze artist! How and why did you make the transition to music?

Yes! My husband and I owned a circus arts school and event venue in Seattle. I was actually able to combine music and circus for many years. Performing on the flying trapeze and singing were a part of almost every show I produced! It started to become overwhelming, though. With more and more students, and larger events for major clients, it meant that I had to spend more time and energy on the management and administrative side of the business than the performing side. I began to feel that element slipping away from my life, and really wanted to pursue creating and performing full time. When the opportunity arose to sell the circus in 2019, we made the difficult (but ultimately the right) decision to leave the Big Top that would allow me to focus on music as a career.

2. ‘Wild Is The Wind’ is a wonderful collection of covers made into your own Jazz versions. Is there an album theme and why did you choose those songs in particular?

Thank you!! The album theme is ‘unrequited or forbidden love’, and I wanted to include as wide a range of styles and original genres as possible. I’ve always been drawn to songs that have a strong narrative, and the pop tunes like “Do It Again”, “Jealous”, and “Secret” tell such a strong story to the listener. Choosing standards and songs from the Great American Songbook was tougher, because there are just so many amazing possibilities! I wanted to feature at least 3 standards in different tempos, and “It’s Alright With Me”, “Too Close For Comfort”, and “I’ll Be Around” really fit that for me.

3. Which is your favourite song off the album and why?

Hands down “Wild is the Wind”. It’s the song that inspired the entire album… a song rooted in deep pain and sadness, but so lush in imagery and arrangement. When I met Shelly Berg for the very first time, I sang through this song with him at the piano. It was magical and I knew it would be the anchor for the album. The instrument bed and the vocal were both done in one take, and it all just felt so perfect to me. The musicians and I all felt something very special in this song.

4. Who are your favourite artists and how do they inspire you?

I’ve loved Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush since I was very young. Both of them painted such an indelible mark on me musically. They used their unique voices and song styling to define their sound, but weren’t limited or pigeon-holed into one specific genre. I’m also a huge fan of Brian Ferry, Peter Gabriel, Brian Wilson, and Eva Cassidy. Their ability to write and perform songs that were not only musically intricate, but emotionally evocative is a huge inspiration.

5. Do you miss being a trapeze artist? We are sure you have a ton of fun stories about your experiences, will you share one with us?

I miss the thrill and the fear-inducing moments, but my body is very grateful that I stopped when I did! Sooooo many stories about the circus, but one that was definitely unforgettable was my wedding. My husband and I were married on a reality TV show, and in addition to us performing on the flying trapeze together just before our ceremony, my entrance was a surprise to everyone there! We had friends and bridesmaids walk down the aisle, unrolling a long piece of fabric, dropping flower petals… all to make everyone think that I’d be making a traditional entrance from the back of the room, but the surprise was in the air! I was suspended by one wrist over the ceremony stage, and at the cue, spiralled down in my full wedding dress from 40 feet above! It was very unexpected, and all our guests loved it!

6. What are your musical plans for 2022 and beyond?

I was able to record 15 new songs in October, 2021. Right now, I’m in the final stages of tracking and beginning to mix and master one at a time. I’ll have a new single out in April, and am still finalizing a release date for the full album. My hope is to be able to tour as soon as it’s safer to do so, and I’m really looking forward to singing these songs to live audiences!

7. What do you want your fans to know about you?

In late October, 2021, after recording my second album, I had surgery to donate my left kidney to a musician friend of mine. Since then, I’ve been very passionate about helping other potential donors through mentoring and telling them about my experience. I also really enjoy volunteering at my local animal shelter, and produced a music video to my song “Break Your Heart” about supporting animal shelters. I love cooking, gardening, being outdoors as much as possible, and as a former Ironman triathlete, still enjoy getting out on my bike, running, or swimming every week. You can find me on Instagram @karikirklandmusic for more facts and fun!:)
Thanks so much for interviewing me!


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