Canadian-born singer/songwriter Kimberly Dawn is beginning to make a few waves in the vast sea of country music. But like any other artist, her struggle is to simply get noticed on a landscape filled with thousands of artists trying to do the same. In Dawn’s favor, however, is her story. It’s a unique one.
Married at the age of 22, Dawn had the picture-perfect life, married with four children and a loving husband, all by the age of 30.
Prior to marriage, Dawn had dipped her toes in the music world ever so briefly, donning the “struggling artist”cap while also trying her hand at acting in Los Angeles as well. But the bills needed to be paid, and neither music nor acting were doing it. So everything was placed on hold, and a “new” life began.
“I worked so many odd jobs just to pay the bills,” she said in a recent interview with ListenIowa. “I always knew I wanted to get married and have a family.”
So she did. But she wasn’t ready to be done with music just yet.
Years later, Dawn returned to the studio with a new-found mission and drive. A passion. The result has been the release of singles “Slow Dancin’ In the Dark,” and “Cadillac Lovers,” in the course of the last year. And now, momentum on her side, she recently released “Nashville,” another stand-alone single that dropped Feb. 21.
While her road has thus far been the one less traveled, Dawn has no regrets as to how things have played out. She’s gotten her cake and has gotten to take a few bites, too.
“I think that having my family and then pursuing a music career has helped me to stay grounded and keep my priorities in check,” she said. “If I would have waited to get married and have a family, I don’t know what kind of life I would have, but I certainly know I wouldn’t be married to the man of my dreams and have the four amazing kids that I ended up with. It truly would’ve been a different path.”
ListenIowa caught up with Dawn to talk about her path to today; the Canadian music scene; and balancing her life as a mother, wife and artist.
ListenIowa: You grew up with seven siblings on a farm in Alberta, Canada. What did that teach you?
It sure taught me to have quick hands if I wanted eat! In all seriousness, growing up in a large household taught me the importance of family and supporting one another.
LI: You were married at 22, had four children, and then had your “aha” moment to return to music when you were in the process of mking a CD of children’s songs, which led to the producer suggesting you write your own music. That’s quite change midstream.
When I actually started penning my own songs I found it very therapeutic. I knew that music was my path, it just took me a little longer to realize it
LI: Was it a sort of an early mid-life crisis, or are you the type of person who just enjoys new challenges?
I grew up singing and I actually remember writing a couple songs in my youth. I think I was 12 when I wrote a song called “True Blue.” When I moved to Los Angeles at 18, I was pursuing an acting career but still worked on singing. I eventually needed to find a more steady job, and I just put everything on hold. What I realized [later] is that the music was calling me back.
LI: Have you noticed any disadvantages to having a late start, so to speak?
The only thing I would say as a disadvantage is I’m not “young blood.” I’ve gone through hurdles, prioritized family and lived a little. I’m ready to live more, and coming in later to the game with more life experience has only given me more stories to tell.
LI: So do you do you write your own music, then?
I write every song. Most of the songs are in collaboration with someone else, but I am 100 percent involved in the process.
LI: Who are your musical influences?
I have so many musical inspirations, especially because I grew up with a mom who loved Elvis Presley, Paul Anka, The Supremes and Glen Campbell. Fast forward to me not only loving those artists, too, but I discovered Elton John, Queen, Garth Brooks, Reba, Martina McBride, Shania Twain and Faith Hill. I still listen to all different genres, because who doesn’t love Lady Gaga, Pink, Eminem? One of my favorite artists right now is Post Malone. But my all time favorite idol is Dolly Parton. Her ethics and classiness have always been inspiring to me.
LI: What was the Alberta, Canada music scene like growing up?
I feel like the music scene in Alberta was heavy metal like Motley Crüe, Poison, Def Leppard, and country was played a lot, for sure. Alberta has a lot of farmers, so that’s what farmers listen to on the tractor — country music. Canada is very supportive of Canadian talent, so I feel like they played a lot of Shania Twain, Alannis Morissette, artists from Canada who ended up in the United States and are having huge careers.
LI: You’ve released the singles “Cadillac Lovers,” “Slow Dancing in the Dark,” “Warrior,” and your latest, “Nashville.”
I released those singles and I am proud of every one of them. “Slow Dancing In The Dark” was nominated for a country award in November 2019 at the Hollywood Music Media Awards. That was amazing to have one of my songs acknowledged. “Nashville” was actually written about three years ago. I wasn’t sure if I was going to even release it, but every time I listened to it something told me I needed to. It definitely has a special place in my own heart because I have fallen in love with Nashville. It’s truly one of my favorite cities.
LI: Is there a plan and a timeline for releasing a full-length album of material at any point?
I just finished recording an EP in January of this year, which will be about seven songs. I am constantly writing, so there will definitely be a full length album in the future.
LI: How are you balancing being a mother and wife with this newfound musical journey?
Well, I have been trying to balance being a mom, wife, and musician for years. I think having a supportive husband who steps in on a regular basis to help. This past year I have been traveling more than ever, so that has been an adjustment for the entire family, but they have all just rolled with it.
LI: Have your kids begun to see you as Kimberly, the burgeoning country artist, in addition to mom?
To my kids, I am just their annoying mom. I make them do their homework and clean their rooms, so I know they don’t look at me as a celebrity.
LI: Do you plan on trying to take this further, meaning securing a record deal/tour/etc., to where it’s a “thing”?
I am being patient with all of that. I want to take the right deal and not just rush into signing with any label or any publisher. I know that when the timing is right , the right deal will happen. Right now I am enjoying the positive feedback on the release of “Nashville.” I’m excited to get my EP out later this year.
LI: What’s your advice to other mothers who might find themselves in a similar position as you were when you were 30? Dads, too, for that matter.
My advice would be to remember you were someone else before you were a mom or dad. You had passions, and sometimes we get so busy with life we forget. Kids grow up and become independent. Make sure you don’t lose those passions. We all need to do things that bring us joy. Find that one thing that brings you joy, even if it’s collecting rocks.