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She Said: Exclusive Interview With KIM BURRELL (Part 1 of 2)

Kim Burrell is hailed as one of the greatest voices of our time– in gospel and beyond.  You knew I’d be chattin’ with her Japanese Teapots eventually, right??? :mrgreen:

The interview was incredible.  Not only is she hilarious, she’s open and honest, conversational and real– that always makes an interview fun for me.  We chatted so long that I’m gonna have to break it into two-parts… I know how much y’all like when I do that. LOL

Kim BurrellIn this, Part One of my discussion, Kim responds to some of the complaints about her latest project, No Ways Tired, and explains why she recorded this type of album.  She also gives some EXCLUSIVE info to about another album from her, due sooner than you’d think… and you’ll never guess the label she’ll be releasing it on!

Dear friends, I give you Part One of my chat with the one, the ONLY, Ms. Kim Burrell

*     *     *

EJ:  Hi!  How are you?

KB:  I’m really good!

EJ:  I wanna thank you for taking a minute to chat with me.  I really appreciate it!

KB:  Absolutely.

EJ:  I wanna jump right by talking about your most recent album, No Ways Tired. I don’t wanna say you took 9 years “off,” because you were still working like crazy, but there was a considerable amount of time between albums.  Why?

KB:  It was nothing pre-planned whatsoever, but after the first year, it was starting to really feel good to NOT deal with record companies. *laughing*

EJ:  *laughs*

KB:  After the first year of taking a break, I continued working with other artists.  And that’s more comfortable for me– much more comfortable than having to deal with a record company situation.  That’s the reason that I’m not signed to any record company now.  I have a relationship with Shanachie— they’re a reputable company and, because of what they represent, I wanted to attach myself at this hour, but for the most part, I just kinda took a break from the whole record company scene.

And as I said, I’ve continued to work with ministries, doing other people’s albums… just kinda doing that.

EJ:  Sure.  Months ago, I said on the site that you’re one of the only artists who can go 9 years without a commercial release and remain relevant in the industry.

KB:  Oh!  Thank you!

EJ:  For real… you were everywhere, as if you were still releasing albums on a regular basis, but it had been years and many people didn’t really notice.  And then one day, you just decided “it’s time”?

KB:  You know what I did?  I had a conversation with Danny Weiss at Shanachie and decided to give it a go.  And I’ll be honest with you– I was intrigued.  After doing a song with George Clinton, I was intrigued by the producer– Chris “Big Dog” Davis.

I felt there was a sound and an approach that I had not experienced in quite a while.  It was mature, it was gospel, it was laid-back… it wasn’t the “hype” gospel, as I like to say.

EJ:  Nice!

KB:  And there were songs that he and I talked about that made sense.  Like “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” we always hear… mostly at funerals.  But I liked the way he voiced it, and I wanted to sing along with it.

To be honest with you, I took advantage of a sound that I was intrigued by, and interested in doing.  And that’s what made me do the album.  He presented several things.  Then, of course, we decided to do the “Happy” song.

EJ:  Yes!  Love that.

KB:  I know Vickie Winans has done the “if you’re happy and you know it” thing, but I had an interest to do “I’m so happy and I know it.”  And, of course, not to counter her song, because that’s been around for ages, but we did it.

Eventually, one thing led to another with music and we had enough songs to do an album.  We said “why not?!” *laughing*

EJ: *laughs* Sure.

Kim Burrell - No Ways TiredKB:  And we did it in about 3 weeks… just went in and knocked ’em out.  Said “Hey, y’all like this, Shanachie?  There ya go.”

EJ:  There ya go.  Mastered… delivered!

KB:  *laughing* Honestly!  Honest to God, that is exactly how that happened.

EJ:  Well, I love the album something serious.

KB:  Thank you.  I’m enjoying it, too.  Really, I am.  I think I listen to it at least once a day.

EJ:  Oh, it’s lots of fun.  You’ve got me and several people I know talkin’ about “using our happy” on a daily basis– it’s like a movement!

KB:  Alright!  *laughing* That’s wonderful to hear.  What I really like about it is that a lot of young people like it.  At our church, in one of the classes, that’s their theme– “Use Your Happy.”  And it’s just exciting to know that I’ve been able to affect and become a part of other people’s lives on an every-day basis.  It’s just a blessing and I’m glad that God trusts me to that degree, you know?

EJ:  Absolutely.  Now, having said all of that, though, I have to acknowledge some of the concerns of the readers at  I want to give you a chance to respond to some of those, if you feel inclined.  Otherwise, feel free to just say “you’ll get over it” or something.

KB:  Okay.

EJ:  First, the style of the album.  After this amount of time, I think several people were anticipating another Everlasting Life.

KB:  Sure.

EJ:  But I think it’s somewhat of an unfair expectation because, to me, that album was one of a few projects that defined this new era of contemporary gospel music, so it’s hard to replicate it.  But was that even your focus on this album?  Were you trying to make another Everlasting Life for people to go bananas over?

KB:  Absolutely not.  Because there’s an Everlasting Life that exists.  It’ll always exist.  And if that’s what they would like to hear, some people still listen to it.  I know some of the greatest musicians, some who have nothing to do with gospel training, absolutely live by it.  Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, George Duke… all of them.  I respect those artists because they have gone to school for what they do.

Now, I respect– trust me– and always WILL respect, our gospel listeners.  But that’s what they are for the most part.  Most of them that are complaining– cuz trust me, I’ve heard it before– are gospel music listeners and not gospel music makers.  And you know, sometimes, when all you do is listen to music, all you really expect is something different.  But when you LIVE music, whatever an artist does, you’re cool with it because you have an insight on music, a love for music, and you’ll find something to be intrigued about.  You don’t have any unrealistic (or what I would consider unrealistic) expectations.

EJ:  Sure.

KB:  Because I’m the type of person… and I tell people to check me out on YouTube, especially songs that I’ve done repeatedly, I don’t do them the same.  And it’s not that I try not to, it’s just not my personality.

EJ:  Right.

KB:  When you let God live in you, the creative side of God will come out of you as often as needed.  And for me to REPEAT myself is, in a way, almost spiritually phobic… to say that God wasn’t creative enough for me to come out with something else.

Kim Burrell - Everlasting LifeEJ:  That’s real.  And when I first reviewed the album, I said “this is NOT Everlasting Life,” so if you’re looking for that, you may be disappointed.  But if you’re a music lover, you need this in your collection.  You have to have it.

KB:  Yeah, yeah… I feel you.  Can I tell you something?  It’s amazing– after 20 years or so in the music business, I know the sound, I know the posture of a real music lover.  I know you guys.  And I realize wholeheartedly that you all respect everything about music.  And trust me, I can tell by talking to you in just a few minutes, that you know.

You have no idea how much it intrigues me to hear other people’s opinions that differ on this.  You have to allow people to be themselves, but they’ll say “well, I’m your fan… I may not be a music lover like you, but I’m your fan and I like what you do.”

But when you’re a fan, it doesn’t matter what it is that I do.

EJ:  True.

KB:  I guarantee you this– on Michael Jackson’s WORST album, when it comes down to product sales, I can guarantee you that most of the sales are from his FANS.  No matter what he puts out, the sales come from people who love him.

Other people who, pretty much, judge what you do in a negative way, are people who just have an expectation of you out of judgment.  They’ll buy it just to have another to reason to judge you.

EJ:  Mmm-hmm.

KB:  So, those people, I don’t necessarily consider too deeply, and I mean “pay attention to.”  I don’t mean any harm, and everybody should be regarded in some way, maybe, but as it pertains to that, I don’t know.

EJ:  Sure.  And you’re not doing it primarily for us anyway.  God gave you a jazzy album in 2009, maybe in 2015 it’ll be something else.  I think that’s a great outlook to have.

Now, you performed a couple of new singles over the past several years, though, and people always thought an album was coming– like “That’s What He’s Done,” and “Have Faith In Me,” for example.  To be honest, I’m STILL mad at Bad Boy for not releasing “Special Place.”

KB:  *laughs*

EJ:  I’m so serious.  I have a snippet of it from some teaser and I promise I listen to it, from the first verse to the chorus before it fades out…

KB:  *laughing*

EJ:  *laughs* I listen to it like it’s a full song!  But where’s the album that’s gonna feature those songs, or will there not be one?

KB:  There WILL be one.  There ABSOLUTELY will be one.  I’m actually going to work on that album, probably, around December.  It’ll be a 2010 release.  I’m going to work on that album so that it can be out in early 2010 and people can kinda… not you, I’m talking about other people that are fussin’… they’ll be alright.

But that goes to show you– that was me.  I didn’t want to put those songs on this album, because that’s not the kind of album this was.

EJ:  Right.  You did a PROJECT.

KB:  Yeeeeeeesss!

EJ:  With a THEME, a CONCEPT… imagine that. *laughs*

KB:  Yes.  And that’s not the album this was.  This wasn’t *starts singing the first line to “That’s What He’s Done”* No, no.  It wasn’t gonna be that.  It was *starts singing “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”*… because that’s what I felt.

EJ:  Right!  A rough estimate– how many unreleased tracks do you have recorded?

KB:  Oh, probably 40.

EJ:  Wow!  40 that are done and ready to go if you needed to?

KB:  No, done and ready to go?  Probably about 10.  A full album.

EJ:  Wow.

KB:  Yeah.  Full and complete… ready.  But I’ll release it on my label, though.

EJ:  You’re starting your own label?

KB:  Oh, absolutely.

EJ:  Amen.

KB:  I’ve already started, actually.

EJ:  Have you?

KB:  You’re the first to know that, publicly.

Kim BurrellEJ:  Well, thank you!  Is that off-the-record?

KB:  Yeah…

EJ:  Okay.

KB:  Well, you know what?  NAW!  Actually, I’m gonna solicit to get other artists in just a few days.

You know, my Ephesians 4 conference allows me many opportunities to do quite a few things.  And that’s the most important baby to me right now, in my life.

EJ:  I’ve heard great things about it, by the way.

KB:  Oh, it is a force to be reckoned with.  It really is.  And that’s not a competitive thing.  That is a statement based on what God has done in these settings.  I promise you, it is nothing anyone would ever want to miss.

It is one of the most life-changing experiences that I have had.  There is an anointing that rests on Ephesians 4 that affords me the opportunity to meet with God in a way that… it’s incredible.

When God shows up at Ephesians 4, everybody who is anybody that has been to these conferences, they forget about who they are.  We did it in Atlanta– you walked in that room, you would’ve thought “what’s going on here?!”

You had Jonathan Nelson in one corner on the floor, crying out to God, Tye Tribbett in another corner… I was in another corner.  The only reason I knew they were in their corners is because I had to watch the video… I was messed up!

EJ:  *laughs*

KB:  Donnie McClurkin gone in, Dr. Bobby Jones… I mean, when I tell you that this conference is one that makes you SOUL SEARCH…  It is nothing to play with.

And that’s why I always invite everybody, and it changes each time.  It’s getting better and better.  We do our last set this year in October at Perfecting Church in Detroit, Pastor Marvin Winans.

EJ:  You know, I think that’s great… that there is a place for artists to come, meet, and experience a time of restoration.  We’re hearing a lot these days about artists falling and messing up, scandals that haven’t even come to light yet.  There’s a need for accountability for artists in the gospel music industry, and a need for artists to be able to come together in a safe place of refuge, to hold up one another.

KB:  Yeah.  And one thing about it, I’m given to this.  Love covers.  I grew up in a church environment where the doctrine of it was sometimes unforgiving and borderline judgmental.  But it’s learned behavior.  And I tell people, “make sure that in our relationships with Jesus Christ, we have encounters with Him, personally, and not necessarily functioning off of what we’ve learned.”

There’s nothing wrong with adhering to what seemingly has worked for us.  But if you happen to hit a glitch in the road, with what it is you’ve already learned, search it out in the Scripture and through prayer.  And find out if that’s the route that your life should be going in.  Don’t become bitter, destitute, upset and rebellious… just take a little time, press pause, and search after God.

EJ:  Sure– that wrestling is where growth occurs.

KB:  And I say that because a lot of what we, in ministry, suffer comes from trying to hold to what we’ve LEARNED, not necessarily what we’ve experienced.  We function off of what we’ve heard, not what we’ve tried out for ourselves.  And when we get to that place in the road where that thing that we’ve learned doesn’t work for us, the enemy comes in and tries to make us doubt EVERYTHING.

That’s why it’s important that we know what to embrace and what not to.  We’ve all got to take time and learn God for ourselves.

*     *     *

Aaaaaand, we’ll take a break there. :mrgreen:

Hopefully, you enjoyed her insight as much as I did.  She really has some great stuff to SAY, not just sing, as it relates to our walks with Christ.

Plus, how excited are ya?!  NEW ALBUM from Kim Burrell in early 2010, AND she’s starting her own label!  Tell your friends, but don’t forget that she told GospelPundit first, aight?! 😉

Ok, that’s it for now.  Check back TOMORROW for our conclusion– it only gets BETTER.

/// EDITOR’S NOTE: For Part 2 of this interview, click here! ///

What do you think so far?!

And just for the heck of it, here’s a great video of her singing “That’s What He’s Done”:


  • luda

    Watching this video of her…..its just not fair…..she is SO extremely gifted vocally……

    My only knock on her (which really isnt her fault) is that she’s so good that people try to do what she does, and end up souding too busy or just a hot mess! People have to understand that what she is able to do with her voice cannot be learned, but is a gift from God.

  • HarRell


  • Ryan

    I’m loving this interview, these were some great questions! I really enjoy her ministry. I’m so looking for Kim’s cd next year. I can’t wait for part two of the interview.

  • J Matt

    In today’s music culture, where young-ins are just so hip to anything trendy, I decided not to leave any comment here. I’m sure I will be judged so quickly that I might get a honorary degree in Satanism. Still, this interview is what I expected from Kim and her fans, so I will save my comments for

  • Keish

    Ummmm…..okay….wow. ROTFL.

    Great interview, EJ! 😉

  • luda

    Everybody extend your hands toward our dear brother J Matt…….

    Father, although we know not what he talketh about, Lord you know, so I ask now that you would touch him that he may maketh sense……Amen

    Sorry EJ:-)

  • ebonisun

    I love her voice/ministry, she is truly blessed!!!!

    I feel her on that fan comment-that’s what’s up.

    Yes luda – too busy AND a hot mess – lol.

    Great interview EJ, can’t wait for part 2. Waiting…….

  • author08

    Great interview!
    Luda, I totally agree on the fans imitating Kim thing. Can’t be done.

  • Tyrone

    Man, I really respect Kim’s feedback and convo. I guess I have to trust that she knows what she is doing in the music industry. If I am not wrong the song she is singing in this video is not on her album and I love that song.

  • ebonisun

    lol – “…may maketh sense..” -lol

  • faith

    Kim Burrell is the QUEEN of gospel music! There is no one like her!

  • Ken

    I freaking loved the interview! I love Kim Burrell! She is the number one. I appreciate the questions about being a true listener and fan of hers. Burrell could sing the phone book and I would buy it and play it in my car always. I appreciate that she is led by the Spirit of God as to who to work with and what to record. In one interview on YouTube she said she was more interested in ministry than commercial success. This is the type of artist I want to usher me into the presence of Almighty God! Great interview! Can’t wait for part 2. Can’t wait for 2010…Kim Burrell two years in a row…yes…and special place was released as a single…i do have the whole song…awesome thing it is…

  • J Matt

    Luda, make her records sales “maketh sense” and that tore-down album cover. *EDITED* Image is everything; could that be one of the reason why she wouldn’t talk about her battle with the labels. Nobody would dare say it, but it’s the truth. You gospel folk are such a zest pool of groupies. Learn how to speak the truth, even if it hurts.

  • EJ

    Ok, folks… let’s remember that we’re commenting on what KIM had to say in her INTERVIEW, and topics related to that. ‘ppreciate ya!

  • Keish

    Hey J Matt, why don’t you go take the messiness back to your own site! It’s already shameful enough as is, we don’t need more of you spread on other gospel sites that are actually trying to build and uplift the kingdom. Is somebody trying to recapture a potential loss of site traffic? Hmmm.

  • J Matt

    Keish, I don’t have a problem with my site traffic. To best answer your suspicions as to why I visit here, I frequent here to read comments from “hypocritical fans” that surely were disappointed in Kim’s new album and all of a sudden have a change of heart because of one single interview.

  • EJ

    …and you visit cuz you like the site. 🙂

    PEOPLE! We’re chattin’ about my award-winning interview, here. LOL

  • ray

    OK!! Let there be peace in the house!!! lolol Great interview doc!! Kim Burrell is an awesome and anointed vessel of God! I appreciate and respect everything that she said in this interview! Her stock just went up some more with me!!

  • Sydney

    I was really excited to read this interview. As much as I’ve seen Kim perform, I don’t feel like I’ve had too many opportunities to hear her heart.

    With all due respect to Kim, it always amazes me when artists who are anti-record-label or have had what they consider significantly negative experiences with a label, start their own label, wanting to sign other artists. I don’t think it ever occurs to them that their artists will eventually look at THEM as the record company and have the same negative feelings.

  • jonez

    Great interview. BTW I too have that special place clip on my ipod, and every now and then I have to dust that off and give it spin.

  • ML

    You just summed it ALL up luda. ALL UP.

  • ML

    Something ’bout the girl @ 1:13-1:16’s praise that blessed me. She was locked in to the track and was groovin. It was suttle but it encouraged me.

    Folks talked about Jesus so much so they killed him and he declared: “If they’ve done it to me, they’ll do it to you.” So, I expect people to spectate he also stated: “They’ll hate you without cause.” So, really people are just fulfilling the very word of God so don’t get too defensive beloved God sees EXACTLY what’s going on and he’ll shut the mouths of the gainsayers as it’s ALS written. Vengance is HIS! At the end of it all I’ve always asked the question … WHY do you invest SO much energy on what you say you really DON’T like anyway? It just doesn’t make ANY kind of sense :-/ Aaaahhh well, back to the video … I was jammin real nice *cue music* 😀

  • C. Smith

    It is good to hear Kim speak to the nay sayers! I am Kim’s #1 fan, and although I am a bit concerned about her transition in music, whatever choices she makes, that’s between her and the Lord! I will not judge her decisions. I just trust that she is careful out there becaue everyone does not have her best interests in mind! I will be praying for her, and many other artists out there who are going through this same situation! I love you Kim. Make the enemy out to be what he is: A LIAR! I look forward to hearing her voice again this year, and I pray God’s approval be on everything she does. Represent the Kingdom GIRL!!!

  • Mike Douglas

    This was a good way to shift the blame to someone else.Anytime someone says something about me if it is a lie I will tell you so.She could have easily refuted it but she knew she was going to do an secular album(worldly album).Stop playing all of you marks you are hanging on every word that comes out of her mouth and repeating the rectoric.If I'm singing about Christ why would I need to get a different audience?If you are an Gospel artist why are you sending different messages the only message you need is John 3:16 THE GOSPEL?No inspirational message need the Gospel is inspiring enough by itself.You can't serve God and Mammon(Money).