Fireworks Magazine Online 49 - Kimball Jamison


Awakening in the wee hours of the morning and travelling over two hours in search of a "land line" (believe it or not, they are increasingly hard to find these days!) allowed me just enough time to honor my scheduled interview at 7:30AM EST with two of the most important names in AOR: Bobby Kimball and Jimi Jamison. Clearly, no formal introduction is required as their names speak for themselves. For those unaware, however, Bobby is best known for being the voice of Toto and Jimi for his tenure fronting Survivor. Although I have yet to make a precise calculation, album sales which feature their voices is undoubtedly an eight digit figure (i.e. tens of millions). Fans worldwide now have the first -- and I certainly hope not the last -- opportunity to experience both voices collectively on one of the most anticipated releases of 2011 with the simply titled, 'Kimball-Jamison.' What is being described as a "duet CD," it should come as no surprise that Frontiers Records spared nothing when making 'Kimball-Jamison'. A mélange of talent comprising some of the most recognized names in the industry were recruited to write, record and produce an album which I believe many a pundit will bestow top honors. The following text recounts my conversation with these incredibly influential musicians who were located in the UK at the time of this interview. Lack of either two phones and/or speakerphone on their end precluded me from speaking with them simultaneously, so a pass of the handset was how it occurred...

It is easy to imagine that the egos of two singers from incredibly successful bands would conflict when assigned to create music together. Although you have been friends for years, how did the opportunity materialise to record an album together?

BK: Well, we've been talking about doing that for so many years now. However, Jimi has been on the road touring and recording with Survivor and I've been on the road touring and recording with Toto. It was very difficult to find the correct situation to get together in the studio and record a CD. However, the opportunity arose and we therefore took the time to go into the studio to record and we had a wonderful time doing it. I have to tell you, I am very, very excited about this CD because the songs were written by some incredible songwriters and it seems like they were written for both of our voices.

I would absolutely agree with that and would like to add that it is very well balanced in terms of the contributions from you both. You seem to play off of one another and it is nice to hear the variety with regards to the arrangements where on one track you will sing the bridge and chorus and Jimi will sing the verse lyrics or you two will take turns on the verses and duet on the chorus...

BK: Exactly. We had no problems picking out who would sing each part. A lot of times in a band, you will have an argument between two singers who say, "I want to sing that part...No, I want to sing that part!" Jimi and I don't do that. We listen to it and we pick the parts that are the best for us individually. However, if Jimi wanted to sing any of the parts that I perform, that would be fine with me and vice versa.

How did you decide which passages you were to sing...did you two have the freedom to choose or was that determined by the song's composer?

BK: I think the parts chose us! [laughs] It was simply the parts that were in my range I performed and Jimi performed the parts that were in his range. I think that is one of the reasons it sounds so good. Together, we can cover carry a very wide range of vocal capacity. Normally, if someone that sings really high tries to sing a low part, it doesn't sound correct. Jimi has that very wide, breathy vocal thing that I love very much...I wish I could do that. However, my voice is stratospheric and I can't get down in that really beautiful area that Jimi covers. When we recorded the CD, it worked so well that we became a "Supervoice." [laughs]

Jimi - you are slated for a follow-up performance at this year's Firefest event this October, what about your experience last year makes yourself enthusiastic about reprising a return to the crowd at Nottingham's Rock City venue?

JJ: Man, I will tell you that I was totally shocked by the response we got. I had no idea that it was going to be that good. I couldn't tell that we even sounded that good. [laughs] But it was obvious that it sounded great. The people were wonderful and I really thank them so much for being very hospitable and so receptive to the music.

Based on the fantastic results of the Kimball-Jamison CD, will 'Kimball-Jamison' be the first in a series or does it stand to be a single volume?

JJ: We are always open to doing another record together. If it does well, we will. Even if it doesn't do well, we will probably give it another shot anyway. We love to work together and it is always fun to work with Bobby. He is a blast. In a studio [setting] it is very easy. So, this may be one of a series...

With regards to this latest record, what were the biggest difficulties with the recording process...whether it be a single performance you struggled with or any type of logistical consideration?

JJ: To be honest, it wasn't really that hard. We didn't have a problem singing any of it. [laughs] The background vocals took a little bit longer than we had expected but that is what you have to just have to put the time into it to make it great. Usually, background vocals are my forte because I have done it for so long. However, when you don't have the charts and are just listening [to the scratch tracks], you might sing the wrong part that doesn't fit in the chord...but basically, none of it was really that difficult.

Your collective performances, the songwriting and production with 'Kimball-Jamison' is what fans have come to expect from Frontiers Records, the premier label in supporting this style of music. Additionally, both of your careers in the music industry spans more than three decades. Please continue to record and perform, as a dedicated fanbase exists that will always support you and other like-minded artists. Any last words for the readers of Fireworks magazine?

BK: I'm pretty sure that the next duet CD Jimi and I do will be written by myself and Jimi. After listening to all of these songs and hearing some of Jimi's ideas and I have a lot of material written as well, we're already talking about another duet CD...and I have my own [record] label now...

I guess that this collaboration then stands to be an ongoing project?

BK: It will, it will. with Robert Sall will be that project.

Read the full double page feature with Bobby and Jimi where they give their insights to the experience of recording together and talk about another collaboration in Fireworks #49.

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• Participating WHSmith and McColls Group stores (see Store Finder for participating stockists)
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• Here in the Fireworks Magazine Mini Store (no registration required) 
• Direct from Fireworks HQ by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , paying via Paypal. Send £6 (Inc P&P)


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