Texan singer/songwriter Kimmie Rhodes - known as an “outlaw sweetheart” for her prog country sound - has written and recorded with some of the biggest names in the country genre, including Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Emmylou Harris.
Her career began in the groover’s paradise of Austin were she arrived in 1979 and began recording with Joe Gracey, a music producer, DJ, and important influence on Austin’s nascent progressive country scene. As Kimmie continued to pen hits and perform, Gracey became her chief musical collaborator. They married and spent 30 years making music together before he lost his cancer battle in 2011.
As a tribute to her husband Kimmie has now released a dual memoir detailing their life together, Radio Dreams. This weaves her own poetic prose with wry and witty words from Gracey’s journals. Kimmie’s trippy songwriting tales and Gracey’s hilarious and poignant recollections take us on a time-machine adventure from Saturday mornings spent watching country-and-western stars on TV, to the wild 70s era in which the hippies, weary from protesting the raging Vietnam War, joined the rednecks to kick back and enjoy some ‘outaw’ country music in Austin.
“I’ve been singing since I was six years old,” confides Kimmie, in her unique Texan drawl, “but I began my recording career at a studio in Austin in 1979 with Joe. We started working together, we fell in love, we had 30 years of music-making together and I wanted to tell our story. We worked together as artist and producer, lovers, mates.
“I found a book that my husband had started called Radio Dreams and I decided I would finish it. It was a healing journey and I think the book gives hope to anyone who has had to reinvent themselves as I had to do after Joe’s death.”
Kimmie will chat about the memoir, her musical evolution and the Austin music scene as well as performing some of her best-known music during a forthcoming gig at Belfast’s Waterfront Studio on May 5.
“I love coming to Ireland to perform. It’s is such a literary place and I’m a lyricist first. There’s a real social grace among the people and real friendliness. It’s just too long since I was last there and I can’t wait to be back.”
Tickets from www.waterfront.co.uk.