Talented Hamilton Singer Finds her Voice: Carissa Kimbell

By Shiona MacKenzie

Carissa Kimbell, vocalist. Credit: Jay Lolli

Bono is often quoted as saying: “Music can change the world because it can change people…”

Music is certainly a powerful force in the life of east Hamiltonian Carissa Kimbell, a graduate of the Applied Music programme at Mohawk College. Her passion is singing and songwriting and, while holding down a day job at a bank, she is determined to pursue a career as a singer, performing at weddings, corporate events and some of the best musical hot spots in the GTA.

Early this year, Kimbell’s talent propelled her into the top 10 of the regional finals of CBC’s Searchlight Competition, with her original song, Shoot Me Down.

Kimbell’s journey has been one of surprising twists and turns, with short-lived attempts to play guitar and electric organ punctuated by happy moments singing at family gatherings.

“I always loved singing, but in my teens, it became hard for me to sing in front of others. I was a normally outgoing kid until I hit the stage, and then I was so nervous that I couldn’t sing very well, despite practising a lot. In high school, my two main interests were music and theatre, so I joined the drama club and performed in musicals and cabaret nights, all the while struggling with quite debilitating stage fright.”

Although nervousness was thwarting her ability to express herself in song, Kimbell persisted and, now in her twenties, she is learning to manage her anxiety. “Until last year, my relationship with music wasn’t as positive as I wanted it to be, but now I’m beginning to taste how good it is to be in the present, making music.”

Kimbell admits that developing a career as a vocalist and sharing her gift with others is not an easy path, but one worth following. Her appearance with the Hamilton-based Jazz Connection Big Band at the 26th annual Beaches International Jazz Festival in Toronto demonstrates that her efforts are yielding results – according to Facebook commentary, Kimbell stole the show.

She’s looking forward to singing with them again on October 24, at The Pearl Company, as part of the 2014 Steel City Jazz Festival.

“Music is not all fun and games, but experience has shown me how important it is to go all out for something you love,” Kimbell concludes.

Music can be transformative for musicians and audiences alike, touching hearts and minds across generations. Who’s to say what changes the current groundswell of young Hamilton musicians portends?

To find out more about Carissa Kimbell, see www.carissakimbell.ca or email carissakimbell@gmail.com.

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