Durham’s Kim Arrington brings new tunes to Beyu Caffe

CorrespondentSeptember 12, 2013 

Kim Arrington: “I think the record is kind of symbolic of that journey, of knowing what it is that I want.”

COURTESY OF ARTBYASH PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Details

    Who: Kim Arrington

    When: 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Beyu Caffe, 335 W. Main St., Durham

    Cost: $12 ($16 for both shows)

    Info: 919-683-1058 or beyucaffe.com

Kim Arrington is getting older – but in a good way.

At 36, the Charleston-born, Durham-based jazz singer is learning to take things in stride, as evidenced by her latest album “Getting II Yes.” The album is certainly a more laid-back contrast to her 2008 debut, “First Love Note of Kim Arrington.”

“The first album,” says Arrington, at a Raleigh eatery on a Saturday afternoon, “there was a defiance. There was an urgency. There was a, like, I wanna be heard. There was a sassiness. The second record – what happened was I think the second record is about yielding, yielding to the music, yielding to the space, yielding to the experiences that happen.”

“Getting” took six days to record, as she and her chief collaborator (and fiancé) Victor Moore arranged and composed tunes. Arrington says 60 percent of the album is fan-funded, noting she got many donations from doing shows in people’s living rooms. Inspired by an artist who was paying top dollar to bring a live show to someone’s abode, Arrington instead decided to do home shows for people in and around the Triangle and simply pass the hat around. These performances proved to be quite popular.

“The first living-room concert I had ended up spawning four more, because no one had ever been in a situation where someone sets up – literally, it was myself and Victor in someone’s house,” she says. “And I sung covers, I sung some songs from the new record and people gave donations.”

Arrington says she took many chances in recording the album, with the most obvious one being the rather unorthodox decision of doing covers of Janet Jackson’s “Control” and Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Sure, she could’ve done some jazz standards. But, as Arrington insists, “These are my standards.”

Being a child of the ’80s, Arrington felt it was only right to include a Janet Jackson song, since Jackson was a big influence on her.

“I mean, Janet Jackson was the most fantastic thing I’ve never seen,” she says. “I never saw a woman sing that way. And I remember Janet before ‘Rhythm Nation.’ I’ve never seen anything like it, and it left a really deep impression, about how a female person can present herself. And she was full-figured, and people were worshipping her for, you know, being like a regular, extraordinary black girl.”

As for Tears for Fears, she was also a fan of Top-40 pop when she was a youngster.

“I could be getting this wrong, so check this,” she says. “But I came to G105 before there was Foxy-107 or K97.5. So, I would listen to, like, that Britpop and loving to see them on, I don’t know, ‘American Bandstand’ or whatever and thinking they were American until they opened their mouths.”

Needless to say, she knew she wanted to be a performer even before then, when she was 4 years old. Coming from a family where her mom was a classically trained singer, she knew being a vocalist would be her calling.

“I feel like I can remember the first day that I consciously, you know, sing,” she remembers. “I was at a church and the choir director was, like, ‘Don’t do this,’ and I broke all the rules … It may not have been my first note I ever sang, but it was the first conscious note that I took.”

Arrington is continuing to do things at her own pace. She is doing two shows Saturday at Beyu Caffe in Durham. After that, she will be diving head first into planning her wedding, which will be happening at the end of the month. And then she’ll take some time off before going back on the road and doing shows.

“There’s something about, like, late 30s that I think you don’t try as hard, and what I mean by that is I know who I am,” she says. “I know what it takes to make me happy, and I go for that. I think the record is kind of symbolic of that journey, of knowing what it is that I want.”

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