Hawaii-based singer-songwriter Kimberly June is like sunshine walking into a room — radiating and calling you home with her soulful vocals, honest lyrics, and rich percussive guitar-playing. Her single, Love and be Loved, a finalist winner at the 2018 Hawaii Songwriter Festival, was released in March during her main-stage performance at Wanderlust Oahu 2018. “I love connecting with people,” she says about performing her own songs, “The energy exchange makes me high.”
Her prolific writing abilities were recognized as a student at Berklee College of Music and Belmont University, winning contests with BMI and ASCAP and eventually landing her a publishing deal in Nashville at the age of 21, where she was mentored by top hit-makers and executives. About her publisher, guru and friend, Leslie ‘Tomasina’ DiPiero, KJ says “She’s a BOSS LADY! She taught me everything I know about the business, introducing me to all the right people, bringing me to the parties, completely taking me under her wing. I’m so grateful for the experience, she was like a mother to me.” After five years in Music City, she found herself longing for more creative freedom and simplicity. “I was so focused on the business that I started losing touch of why I was there in the first place.” At that same time, her new marriage fell apart. “I started veering so far off the path of my soul. I could no longer write. I was uninspired, unhappy, and lost in the chaos.” A pause in our life journey is sometimes asked of us.
“Musicians like to have this romantic idea that it (music) is their whole life, and they have to be broke living in a van to devote their lives to it. ..or be in the studio every single day writing the next hit in order to “make it”. When I let go of that and realized that music is not my life, just a part of it, and I love to do a lot of other things too, it took the pressure off and I was able to finally write again,... freely, from my soul. That journey really cracked me open to a higher consciousness.”
Recently, she has co-written songs featured in television shows like Nashville and Degrassi High. In 2018, she picked up an endorsement with Kala Brand Music, featuring their ‘Guitarlele’ at most of her shows. Although KJ is a featured artist at top venues in Hawaii, including The Four Seasons, she makes time to travel and connect with the music scenes of Nashville, LA, New England, and most recently Cuba ,where she took guitar lessons at Havana Music School and wrote her first song with Spanish lyrics. “I have to keep learning and growing, it keeps things exciting!”
Island life is nothing new for KJ, having grown up in the Dominican Republic from the age of 11 to 18. Her family picked up and left the comforts of New England for her father’s job. The jolts of navigating a foreign country, with its new environment, foods, music, language, and an entirely unfamiliar set of norms, left its mark on KJ. She was sharpened with a unique outlook, and an insatiable taste for travel. The past several years she has taken sabbaticals to recharge and find inspiration for her art, spending weeks — and even months — in Australia, Spain, Thailand,
Bali, Italy and more. “I’d love to visit every country on the planet,” she says, explaining she especially enjoys traveling solo. “It kicks my butt, wakes me up and reminds me that we are all connected.”
Her songs are inspired by the universal power of love, with most being poetic adaptations of her own life experiences, with a touch of light-hearted sarcasm. “Every little romance I’ve had has a song.” Influenced by artists like Bonnie Raitt, Carole King and John Mayer, she acknowledges the common denominator, “They’ve got SOUL. I love watching other artists let go and rock out with no shame or care about what their face looks like. It inspires me to let go more and sing from my heart.”
Currently she is raising funds to complete her album Just KJ, featuring all new songs written on her own since her Saturn-return and new spiritual awakening. She is also producing it herself with help from a producer/engineer in LA, and anticipating it’s release in 2019. “ I am so excited to share this love-bomb with the world!,” says KJ.
“Nashville taught me the difference between external and internal power. Hawaii gave me the platform to heal and grow into my own power. I feel so much joy on a daily basis, celebrating every little thing. And I religiously practice yoga and taming my ego. I want everyone to feel this kind of bliss. It is not easy and I have my off days, but because of mindfulness and all the healing rituals I’ve discovered, I know I am able to take care of myself, and I will be OK. That’s a message worth writing about and sharing.”
KJ’s songs teach us something deeper about living. She is an old soul, with something to say about ups, downs and findinging that sweet-spot of balance. Practicing yoga almost daily, drinking smoothies made from her yard, harvesting pineapples in her ‘zen’ garden, she lives simply so that she can stay connected to the source of life, and focus her efforts on creativity. It is hard to capture the essence and complexities of KJ in a simple bio. If you ask her she will tell you “I am a true country girl at heart, I need sunshine and wide open spaces. When people ask me where I come from it’s not an easy answer.”
Through her rollercoaster spiritual journey home, she has been blessed with the opportunity to inspire others, writing and singing her truth with a grounded sense of purpose. “God is #1. To me, God is Love, truth, light, oneness, inside of me and everyone else, and I will never lose touch of that again.”