With years of experience under her belt, singer/songwriter Kym Simon has evolved into an engaging musical sensation — spearheading the creative charge by writing or co-writing all tracks from her EP, Mirror, which is set to be released Jan. 29th.
Simon performs in Red Deer Jan. 14th at Fratters as part of ‘The Tomato Sessions’ (An Intimate Evening of Women in Country Music) along with Luanne Carl, Joni Delaurier and Alecia Aichelle.
Mirror follows on the heels of If You Stole My Heart, released in 2000, and 2007’s Priority, both of which were recorded in Nashville.
Part of the inspiration for the project came from one of her students – Simon also teaches music, songwriting and performance besides being a busy musician herself, plus a mom of two young kids.
“He said why aren’t you doing more – why aren’t you doing more albums?” she recalls during a recent interview. “So we kind of teamed up, started an entertainment company and thought yes, let’s do a project.
“I was also so inspired by the people I was writing with. So I ended up doing the demos in a studio in Edmonton, and then we got referred to go to one in Calgary and that’s where we ended up doing the project.”
She’s thrilled with the results, describing the songs on Mirror as uplifting yet serious at the same time.
She’s also excited to chat about being a teacher and mentor to up-and-coming musicians.
“It has been the best experience,” she said. “It’s the best thing I could have ever done because when you are teaching other people, you just learn so much about yourself. Different parts of my own thinking have been opened up by their thoughts.”
Simon, who lives in Devon, has been teaching for about seven years now.
And one of the biggest highlights with the group came about last year, when she took 52 people (students and family members) on a trip to Nashville. “They ranged in age from three to 60,” she added with a laugh. “Having done my two previous albums there, I just wanted to show them the City. Lots of them have big dreams and goals, and I thought where better to take them then to Nashville? And when you see all the other artists there, it opens your eyes to, ‘I better work my butt off in this industry’.”
They also got to sing at some pretty amazing places, including Graceland and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“It was crazy – we had a lot of fun. And they just saw the real deal.”
For Mirror, Simon laid down tracks at MCC Recording Studios under the eye of veteran producer Johnny Gasparic (Gord Bamford, George Canyon, Clayton Bellamy).
“He was patient and let me do my thing and then went back over the material to try and make it better. It was the best experience I have had in a studio,” says Simon.
It’s hard to believe that this vivacious and confident stage performer started off as a music loving, but painfully shy young gal from Stettler. She surrounded herself with song, but never thought it would become a vocation.
“My grandparents were in a local dance band that played at all the community halls and events in the area; and, my parents also played in a band. Every family get-together meant sing-alongs where everyone had to get up and do their own little number. So, I was surrounded by music and always encouraged to play and sing,” she said.
The big light bulb moment came for Simon during a special performance during her Grade 12 graduation ceremony — a moment that forever changed her life. “I was petrified – my body was shaking uncontrollably,” she recalled with a laugh.
She sang Mariah Carey’s Hero. “But I’m glad I did it, because it made me get the ‘bug’ for music.”
“After that performance so many people complimented me and I knew this was what I wanted to do. Something just went ‘click’ and from then on I have devoted myself to my music.”
Simon has shared the concert and festival stage with the likes of Aaron Pritchett, Patricia Conroy, Wendell Ferguson, and Gord Bamford. She has also used her talent and time to support many causes — most commonly ones involving emergency services and first responders, since her husband is a professional firefighter for the City of Edmonton.
All of this musical experience, along with her life as a wife and mom, adds an authenticity and depth to her original songs.
“My kids fortunately love music, and my daughter also sings with us quite a bit, too.”
Listening to Mirror will leave listeners with no doubt as to Simon’s songwriting strengths.
The title track was co-written by students from her education program, which is called Songbirds. For Simon, reaching out to youth with a positive, encouraging message is also very important.
“We started talking about the things going on in their lives — about self-confidence, having low self-esteem, and the number of teen suicides that happen. So we decided to write a song that says, ‘Yes, you look at yourself differently than everybody else does, but you have to realize that nobody is perfect and that you are amazing as you are. Life is going to get better’.”