Eight years ago Kimberly Davis was working as a supervisor for the city of Queens, NY now she is the vocalist for CHIC and her new single produced by Tony Moran — “My Fire,” also featuring Nile Rodgers — sits at the No.1 spot on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart.
How did she get here?
“I was always the singer, I’ve been singing since I could talk.” Kimberly explains from “the middle of nowhere near San Pedro” on the CHIC tour bus. Growing up in a musical Brooklyn household, Kimberly performed at every family school or church function. Although reluctant at first to even audition she attended the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, which inspired the movie Fame. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to go there because I won’t be that chick anymore,” she jokes. “Then everybody sings and they won’t see me anymore!”
Kimberly says that although she ended up at a 9-5 she was still always searching for her spotlight: “I was singing background, I was recording, I was doing industry gigs, I was doing weddings, I was doing all kinds of stuff. Anything pertaining to singing I was doing it.” (Kimberly has sung back up for such iconic vocalists as Whitney Houston and Deborah Cox.)
Her biggest break so far though came when a friend of hers, Chic drummer Ralph Rolle, told her that they were holding auditions. “I literally was sitting at work when he called me and I left my job, got in my car, drove from Queens to Manhattan and went to the audition,” she says.
She continues about the audition process and eventually scoring the gig: “I went in there and there were a bunch of girls waiting to do the audition. I looked at the my friend who was the drummer like, ‘Whats up?’ and he looked at me like, ‘Not right now, we are not playing games.'” She laughs. “Once I got the memo I sang “I Want Your Love”, that was one of my favorite CHIC songs, and when I finished singing the manager passed me the itinerary for the rest of the tour.”
With other girls still waiting outside for their audition, Kimberly got the job she calls “the best gig ever”: “I went back to work, I took all my pictures off the wall, and I said, ‘Bye!’ And that was the biggest leap of faith I ever took in my entire life. I was waving out the door like a queen.”
Davis met Nile Rodgers for the first time at the audition and has since become very close with him. “Nile is the story master!” she says. “He’s got so many stories and a lot of them are in his book but some of the funniest ones are him back in the day.”
She tells one of her favorites: “Nile was like, ‘I remember getting really really high in a club and walking out and I couldn’t find my Lamborghini’ — he had a Lamborghini or a Porsche or something like that — and he was like ‘I can’t find it.’ So he just went home and bought a new one the next day.”
Chic is on tour with Earth, Wind & Fire through the middle of August, and Kimberly happily gushed about the dynamic of their group. “We are like a family. Everybody here is very talented and very good at what they do. We clown a lot, we might even get into little arguments and stuff like that — but we always make up because we are like siblings.”
She touched on the importance of the mutual respect between the group and Earth Wind & Fire. “It’s awesome because we do what we do and we get the crowd pumped, and by the time we sing ‘Good Times,’ we have everybody on the stage dancing with us — its insane. The crowd is so amped up and then they come on and they kill it… I’ll see Verdine [White] or Philip [Bailey] in the hallway and they’ll pass by us and say ‘you killed it girls’ and then we are all blowing kisses — it’s that kind of thing.”
Kimberly’s voice has been compared to some of the legendary artists of R&B — including a couple she’s already sung backup for. “I am so flattered when they say ‘You remind me of Whitney,'” she says. “I’ve heard it definitely all my life — but when it’s all said and done, you still get Kimberly out of it, you still feel Kimberly out of it. And it’s not just because Whitney is not here anymore. It’s just because I am willing to put my own stamp on things.”
Kimberly’s tracks “With You”, “Twist Of Love” and “Get Up” reached No. 4, 9 & 12 respectively on the Billboard Dance Club songs and has now reached the No. 1 spot with “My Fire”. The song was produced by Tony Moran and was written by Mike Greenly and Audrey Martells. “I listened to it on the way to the studio, and then when I got to there I sang it one time through and we were done.” Kimberly says of the seamless process.
She gushes about what her producer brings to the table: “People like Tony [Moran] can do any song — it can be actually a slow song, like Deborah Cox’s [‘Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here.’] That was a slow R&B song but they made it a club song. We are missing those kind of songs. We’re missing the Martha Walsh song that we used to go into the club and dance to. So thank God for those people that are keeping it still relevant.”
The tour is coming to an end in late August and Davis is wasting no time in diving into her solo career — looking forward to putting out a follow up track to “My Fire,” as well as an LP.
“I’m totally looking to start a different genre because I can sing everything, I wanna show that,” Kimberly says of her forthcoming new music. “I definitely want to cross over into R&B and I wanna do compilations… duets, collaborations with rappers, we’ve got some of [those] ideas in the works and definitely hoping to cross over to top 40.” She also says to for sure expect another Nile collaboration on the record.
Her parting words? “Always be fierce but stay humble.” Watch the video for “My Fire” below: