If you were to hear Kim Wempe’s low husky voice, chorusing the old-soul lyrics of her folk-roots songs, you would never imagine that she is only 27 years-old. More perplexing is the fact that she only looks about 20 years-old.
The last couple years have been quite a growth spurt for the songstress, who put out two separate records within a year’s time, with Where I need to be released May 2009 and Painting with Tides in September 2010.
“In one year, I feel like it’s been a five-year difference, in change, maturity, growth as an artist, and a writer,” Wempe said over the phone in a telephone interview. Adding, she felt she went from 14 years-old to 19 years-old when in actuality she was 25 years-old when recording Where I need to be and 26 years-old when recording Painting in Tides.
“[With your first album] you just feel like you’re a teenager. You’re always learning and you don’t know what you want to sound like, you don’t know what you want to be, you let everyone else tell you what to do. But when you’re 19 [years-old] you’re like, ‘no I want to navigate this.'”
Regardless of age, Wempe’s music captures the heart and soul of listeners with her raw passion for the melody and lyrics even more evident than her last on her newest album.
“With Painting in Tides it was one or two takes in the studio,” Wempe said. “I wanted the raw passion in the first and second take without any auto-tune or compression.”
One or two takes is all the singer needed, with the newest album becoming a fast success not only among audiences but other fellow acclaimed Canadian musicians as well.
Canadian vocalist Jill Barber states, “Kim Wempe sings directly from the soul, and the result is incredibly powerful. She instantly draws you in with her voice, and holds you there with the strength of her performance and her songs.”
The quote is something Wempe cherishes, and only magnifies the many triumphs on the journey that Wempe calls a “full-on, major learning process.”
Admiring Barber for many years, to then open for her a few years back during an East Coast show, and have Barber speak so highly of her as an artist, still seems surreal for this prairie-raised girl who from the age of six knew she wanted to be a singer.
Now roughly twenty years later, that 27-year-old girl still has a six-year-old inside to keep her ambition alive and thriving, albeit a six-year-old with a very mature-sounding voice.
“I feel very blessed to have [my voice], but still I haven’t figured out where it came from in my family,” Wempe said laughing.
“I always had this husky raspy voice, as long as I can remember, and I remember singing along with CDs in grade seven and eight, just belting it out and saying, ‘I feel like my voice is louder than most peoples.”
Playing her acoustic and electric guitar and writing about life in such poetic stylings, Wempe is only adding the rich history of folk music that is so interwoven in the Canadian heritage, turning her songs into opportunities for audiences to share in her own life experiences.
Wempe comments on how the song “The Grave” was inspired by friends who lost parents and the grieving process that ensued. Since then she has had many people tell her how they’ve related to the song.
“I want to have a conversation with the audience. At the end of the day I want you to come up to me and feel like we just hung out,” Wempe said.
“I want to make you laugh and give you some shivers. The audience is why I do what I do.”