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Up Close with Kimberly Dawn

(Interviewed on December 21, 2004)

Kimberly Dawn introducing her debut CD, I Gotta Go at CD Release Party - Wichita, KSGenre:  Country

Home:  Wichita, Kansas (Born in Sharon, Kansas)
Siblings: Brandon-32, Brett-25, Chris-18
Date of Birth: July 21, 1975
Favorite Movie:  Field of Dreams
Favorite Food:  Mexican and Steak and Tators
Drink:  Lemon Water, Sweet Tea all kinds of wine
Downloading Music off the internet:   SINFUL!!! (DON'T GET ME STARTED)
Instruments: Keyboard,  Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Drums, Trumpet
Affiliations: ASCAP Member


PC: When did you begin your music career?
KD:  I started my music career in 1995 while I was in my second year of college at Emporia State University majoring in Communication.  I was approached by a band out of Nevada, Missouri called the Smith Brothers.  My first gig was with them at a place called Tony's in Fort Scott, Kansas.   I sang lead, backups, guitar and keyboard. 
PC: Who are your main musical influences? 
KD:  I've always been a lover of all kinds of music but because I grew up on a small farm in Sharon, Kansas (population 200) I listened to country music. I remember listening to all of my parents records like Ronnie Milsap, The Statler Brothers, John Denver, Alabama.  But as years went on, I started to love the sounds of Clint Black, Reba McEntire, Merle Haggard, Waylon, Patty Loveless, Alan Jackson, Steve Wariner  and oddly enough Elton John and Joan Baez.  As far as my inspiration, I have to say it all came from God.  He has led me on my journey of this music career.  Within the past 10 years, he has blessed me as a singer, songwriter, musician and entertainer.  Along the way God has blessed me with many people that have inspired me.  Two being my motherfather and my three brothers.  They have backed me in this whole deal even though they thought I was crazy, they still stuck beside me all the way.  I remember as a young child, going to church to listen to my dad play the bass guitar and I always thought that was so cool!  My story is a little different than most, because I would have never thought in a million years that I would be playing music like I am.  So I have a lot to be thankful for as far as the many influences I've come in touch with along the way.
PC: Where can someone get a copy of your CD "I Gotta Go"?
KD:  Since I am the one that created this CD from top to bottom, of course with the help of many people, and since I do not have a distribution deal at this time, anyone who would like to order my CD can visit my website at  From there, you may send your request to me at Kimberly Dawn, P.O. Box 133, Sharon KS  67138 and I will be sure to get one out to you.  This CD was produced in Nashville, TN with many great musicians! I'm very thankful and proud of the job they've  done!  You'll understand when you hear it!
PC: If you had to pick a couple of songs you have written or recorded that you are most proud of, what would they be and why? 
KD:  First of all, I am proud of all of my songs that I have written because they all came from my heart.  But if I had to pick two, the first would be "He Found The Light", which is #4 on my CD.  After moving to Nashville for the first time in 1997 after a bad breakup, this song came flowing through just like it was supposed to.  Plus, I was fortunate enough to run into Mr. DeWayne Phillips (George Jones' guitar player at the time) to help me finish writing the song.  This song represents the beginning of my career which is highly notable.  The second song I would pick would have to be a song that I just finished called, "You Created Me".  Look for it on my upcoming CD.  This is the first Christian song I have written. It only took me an hour.  To give you a little background, I had been listening to a lot of Rich Mullins' music and after church one Sunday morning, I was walking out to my car thinking about him and how I wished I could have some of his talent that is no longer here on this earth since he is deceased, to write something as he did. So on that morning after shutting my car door, the title came to me.  I went straight home and wrote it.  This song is very powerful and its very important to me.  It is where I am heading in my career.  I am now focusing on writing a Christian album and I hope to get it out to the whole world in the next year. Kimberly Dawn introducing her debut CD, I Gotta Go at CD Release Party - Wichita, KS
PC: Where do you see yourself in five years?
KD:  This question is very simple for me to answer.  I've never been one to look towards the future.  I do know that I hope the Lord keeps blessing me each day with more talent and more well written songs.  But my main goal is to be able to touch as many lives with my gift of song as I possibly can.  If it means a record deal to get me out there, then I'm game.  If not, I will do everything in my power to get it out to everyone that I can in other ways.  I could be gone tomorrow so I don't worry about five years from now. The simple answer is, "Wherever the Lord leads me, I'm there, no matter how big or how small."   
PC: Whats do you think the different's between The Texas Music scene and The Nashville Scene? 
KD:  Honestly, I don't know much about the Texas scene.  But I have experienced the Nashville scene.  I've moved there twice and both times, learned that I am only one out of 1000,000 artists in that town.  I have my pros and cons about the town, but I feel as a musician you have to at least move there and experience their world.  The big wigs of the Nashville music scene are a tight knit family and you pretty much have to work yourself into their world.  Now once you have done that, its very easy to relate to them.  Nashville seems like a huge city, but once you know one person, you know everyone.  Everyone knows everyone, even if they really don't.  And I might add that if you see yourself ever wanting to move there to have a music career , make sure to put your boots on and strap on a huge piece of thick skin because you'll need it.  I loved Nashville and I plan on going back someday.  But since you asked this question, I have to state my experience and for me Nashville was a great one.  But for someone that is not as strong willed or easily taken advantage of, I want to make sure these people think twice before moving there. There are so many different  personalities and so many people signing and losing deals everyday. 
I also feel that the Nashville music scene is a cycle.  They are always looking for that certain niche, which everyone knows, but I honestly believe that country music is once again changing as it always does.  My philosophy is highly coming from the Music Mafia that has moved into town and I feel as if they are taking over.  I'm all for it, because they really stand for what I've said all these years.   Artists sometimes do not want to be changed  and that is so much what the Nashville scene has tried to do with so many artists.  So I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next few years. 
PC: What's your fondest career memory so far?
KD:  My fondest career memory so far would have to be recording my CD.  This was the best experience of my life.  I had so many great musicians that helped me out.  I had Monty Parkey (who plays keyboards for Alan Jackson).  He has been one of my best friends for a long time and the amount of talent that runs through his fingers is so amazing!  He really made my CD with all his inserts.  Also, I had in my opinion one the top engineers on this project, John Albani.  He used to work for Black Sabbath so many years ago and he made my CD talk.  The sound is incredible and that is where I get most of my compliments.  Also , I met one of the nicest guys before heading to the studio. His name is Kent Unruh.  He is originally from Enid, Oklahoma and has been playing music most of his life.  He produced and played all guitars on my album.  Kimberly Dawn introducing her debut CD, I Gotta Go at CD Release Party - Wichita, KSHe also plays in a rock and roll band called 4Fourty if you would like to check him out.  Also, I had Tony Paoletta who plays steel guitar on the Opry for Jeannie Seely and has also played in many studio projects.  The rest of the crew are wonderful studio musicians who have played with many great artists.  I learned so much from this experience and now I feel after going through this process, I am even a stronger person knowing that anything is possible.  And as a side note, opening up for Michael Peterson and Andy Griggs has also impacted my life and they were also wonderful memories!
PC: If not for music, what would you be doing as an career?
KD:  You ask me if it weren't for my music, what I would be doing.  This is easy because I am actually in Wichita, Kansas working at a wonderful Law Firm.  I've been able to use my degree and work the 40 hour week.  Plus, I get to do my music on the side.  I hope to someday have that switched around and play music 40 hours a week or more.  The only other passion I have had in the past is dance, actinggolf and softball.  I'm actually working on being a golf pro.  I figure my dream is to travel all over the world and play golf at every stop during the day and sing at night.  I think its possible! :)
PC: What CD would be found in your CD player right now?
KD:  The CD that is in my player right now is Clay Aiken.  What can I say, I like the guy!  If I could only do what he has done in the past year.  What an amazing person inside and out


Kimberly Dawn's new release, I Gotta Go

Sample Kimberly Dawn's Music
"I Gotta Go" CD

  1. I Gotta Go
  2. Between You and Me
  3. Rodeo Queen
  4. He Found the Light
  5. Too Many Irons in the Fire


Kimberly Dawn's new release, I Gotta Go

In the very first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant said to Mary, "You've got spunk!" Mary sheepishly blushed and said, "Well yes...I..." Lou Grant interrupted her and said, "I hate spunk!"

When you first meet Kimberly Dawn, you will be overwhelmed with her 'spunk'. Unlike Lou Grant however, we feel you will immediately fall in love with this tiny, dark-eyed girl from Sharon, KS. Sharon, a mid-Kansas town of less than 200 friendly people, is also home of the current Country Music Entertainer and Female Vocalist of the Year, Martina McBride. It might be found someday that there was something special in the water out at Uncle Vince's artesian well; then maybe, no one will ever know.

By day, Kimberly is a Legal Administrative Assistant at a top legal firm in Wichita, KS. By night or on weekends, you will find her cooking, attending a Tennessee Titans' or Kansas State football game. She frequently plays golf and co-ed softball, and loves visiting with friends. Giving back to her community, you may find her volunteering at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, or helping the Toys for Tots Program sponsored by the U.S. Marines. Or she may be acting out the love of her life next to God and family - playing, singing and writing Christian and Country Music.

Kimberly Dawn was born July 21, 1975. She has one older brother, Brandon, and two younger brothers, Brett and Chris and loving parents (Tim and Pat Traffas) who have been together for over 30 years. Her beginnings were much like any of the other kids raised in Sharon. But all gifts are received differently. Some people receive a gift, as did the 10 virgins in the Bible, and end up burying it. Not so with Kimberly! She did everything she figured God wanted her to do, to nurture and embellish her gifts. Her days and nights growing up filled quickly with everything that was offered: Glee Club, trumpet and drums for the pep band, forensics, dance, volleyball, softball, basketball, track, theater and choir.

Kimberly moved out on her own a day after her high school graduation to go conquer the world. She earned a dance scholarship at Barton County Community College where she also played college softball. She later moved to Emporia State University where she received her BFA Degree in Communication with a Minor in Business.

Kimberly always felt that her calling was to dance, until she moved to Emporia. It was then that she received her calling to music. She and her friend, Shauna, were on their way to Sankey's (a bull riding arena) in Wichita one beautiful bright night. About half way there, Kimberly immediately turned off the radio and insisted that Shauna listen to her. Kimberly told her friend that she was just looking out in the stars, gazing and she heard from somewhere the word, “Nashville!” Shauna was in disbelief that Kimberly wanted her to turn around and go to Nashville, but she finally agreed. A few days later, they packed their bags and headed for Nashville, TN.

Once arriving in Nashville, they stumbled across a bar. Noel Haggard, son of the famous Merle Haggard, approached Kimberly and asked her if she would like to get on stage and sing. She declined several times. Then, that 'spunk' came to life. Soon, she was on stage singing the Trisha Yearwood tune, "That's What I Like About You." The audience was taken back and so was Kimberly. One minute there was meekness, the next, a voice bigger than any that had ever reverberated off those walls.

As Kimberly listened to herself, she wondered, "Where did that come from!" The gentle warm presence that came over Kimberly that evening, effortlessly put a new and exciting vocal stamp in the Nashville air. Her new found range was reaching highs and lows that she had never experienced before.

Kimberly had always felt close to God and God thanked her that evening. She knew at that instant that He had taken a special likin' to her and had given her a gift that few get a chance to witness...much less possess.

Kimberly played and sang country music at every event and in every band that would let her sing. She joined “The Smith Brothers Band” in 1995 with her first performance at Tony's in Fort Scott, KS. In the Fall, Kimberly entered several competitions, one being the annual benefit for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital sponsored by one of the nation’s top rated country music stations, KFDI. In December, she joined the Kansas Old-Time Fiddlers, Pickers and Singers. For the next several years she sang with many different groups throughout the Midwest and at every establishment that would let her sing. Gigs included everything from sock hops to rodeos, weddings and funerals, club dates and on special occasions, the national anthem.

Between stints, she has done lots of other things too, all weaving her way to becoming one of the region’s most loved artists. Babysitting, Cattle Pinning at the Emporia Kansas Livestock Sales Company, Shingling roofs, Building fences, painting barns. Whatever she could find, she did it. With a ‘howdy’ coming in and a ‘thank you and handshake’ when she left.

Kimberly Dawn's new release, I Gotta GoKimberly has expanded her professional horizons by living and working in Nashville periodically during the past decade. She has performed at Nashville’s downtown clubs on Printers Alley: "The Fiddle and Steele Bar" and "Barbara's.” And on Broadway: "Douglas Corner,” "Legends,” "Foxy's" and "The Bluegrass Inn." She has sung with several of Nashville's oldest and newest, up and coming stars. In addition to performing in Nashville, she has worked at MCA Records and at Word Records. She also worked for an independent label as a publicist for Juice Newton, Razzy Bailey, Lynn Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Dave and Sugar, Bill Mumy, Firefall, Stella Parton and many others. She continues to frequent the Nashville music scene to sing, write and record.

Summing up Kimberly's country music career to date, an emcee in a Nashville night club recently did it best when introducing her: "You will find some bigger… some taller… some prettier… and maybe one or two with more volume, but you will never find anyone with the unique mix of ingredients in her 'bucket' of heart, eyes and purity of voice as you will this little girl from Sharon, Kansas! Let me introduce you to Kimberly Dawn."

-- Charlie Traffas     

For More Information on Kimberly Dawn visit her web site at

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© 2003-2004 Texas Red Dirt Singers Songwriters Monthly   Philip W. Corder