A Conversation with Kim Scott: Passion, Hard Work, Commitment and Truth
JD: Tell us about your influences. What drew you to the flute and to music as a career?
KS: My earliest influence was my mother, a retired elementary music education teacher who first introduced me to music. She is a trained pianist and vocalist, and was the first person to put an instrument in my hands. I started on piano at age 4 and quickly added violin to my roster. By age 9, I was introduced to the flute and my world was never the same. Other influences include my high school flute instructor, Katherine Kitzman, who passed away many years ago. She, along with my undergraduate flute instructor, Sheryl Cohen, left me with validation that I had a gift that needed to be shared with the world.
I was drawn to the flute early on because of its size and how pretty it was, but by middle school I had become obsessed with the color of its sound and the challenge it presented in order to master the instrument. During that time I was totally enamored with old recordings by Jean Pierre Rampal and those of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; I practically listened to them all the time. I decided then that I would be a professional flutist like Rampal and would make a living playing in a symphony orchestra. Around 8th grade I found an old record in my childhood home of jazz flutist Hubert Laws and it blew me away.
JD: When did you start playing jazz?
KS: I guess you could say I started playing jazz after obsessing over that old Hubert Laws record I found. I listened to it so much the grooves on the record became warped over time. I learned to play almost every song on that record. I’ll never forget it. Growing up, I didn’t focus on developing my jazz chops as I was so focused on my dream of being a professional classical flutist. I’d graduated from a fine arts high school, received a Bachelor of Music and Master of Pedagogy and Performance degree in classical performance, and even secured a job with a symphony and at a fine arts school as an educator. It wasn’t until 2010 that it dawned on me how I rarely heard the flute on my local jazz radio station. That summer I decided to do something about it. I focused all my energy on developing my jazz chops and on creating my own signature sound for the genre. Following that, I decided I’d make a CD of jazz music for flute performing all of my favorite tunes. I even threw a song by Beyonce on the album to show my versatility!
JD: What is the recording process like? What can flutists who are involved in it for the first time do to facilitate the process?
KS: The recording process for me is the most liberating and creative experience you could have. In the recording booth you are in your most vulnerable state; you almost levitate outside your body during the experience and return once it’s over. There are many times that I’ve recorded a project only to listen back in amazement saying, “Wow, I did that?” There is so much preparation on the front end of recording, like the writing, the collaborations with other artists, and the rehearsals. It can take a full year for the whole plan to come together. In my opinion, flutists involved in it for the first time should craft their plan first.
1. Choose the selections that best showcase your abilities.
2. Make sure the selections you choose balance each other out as a collective.
3. Choose a great recording studio, sound and production engineer (Don’t cut financial corners here).
4. Make sure your musicians involved read charts because that will save time, and that they are professionals for hire who will take your project seriously.
5. Once the project is complete the hard work begins. Create your marketing plan and don’t be afraid to invest in your product to get it out to the world.
JD: How did Block Party Radio Show come to be?
KS: My husband has over 14 years of experience as a DJ for a very popular radio station in our city. Although he is now a full-time minister, he encouraged me back in 2015 to do a sample show to submit to our local jazz station for consideration. He said I had a great “radio voice” and that he has always admired my taste in music. I took him up on the idea and surprisingly our local station accepted the show. This inspired me to perfect the show and I then submitted it to a few other stations and networks who also accepted the show! Fast forward to 2020 and Kim Scott’s Block Party Radio Show is now playing across the country on radio and internet stations, from California to New York. You can find a listing of all stations and air times on the Block Party Radio Page at www.kimscottmusic.com.
JD: You’re an experienced and accomplished teacher. How do you balance touring and recording with your teaching life?
KS: I’m blessed to have a job that values and respects my performance career. I’ve taught at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Alabama since 2000 and they’ve always believed that my performance experience enhances the classroom instruction I offer. The type of professional development gained from touring and recording is invaluable and it’s a pleasure to share that experience and knowledge with students who aspire to have a performance career. The balance of touring/recording and teaching can be difficult, but I’ve found that being organized and being a great manager of time creates the balance I need. It helps to have a wonderful family that helps keep me centered as well.
JD: Do you have any advice for young flutists emerging from their student years? How can they transform their dreams into their reality?
KS: My advice for young flutists emerging from their student years is to learn the business in which you’re aspiring to make a career. It’s not enough to be an amazing flutist if you haven’t done your homework to know how to be as successful as possible. Network with others in the field, learn how to brand yourself, and learn how to market any product you have successfully. Also, you have to be fearless in this field as there is a lot of competition. Be confident in what you do well and market that. Don’t try to be and play like any other flutist; be yourself! Your dreams can be transformed into reality if they are driven by passion, hard work, commitment and truth!
JD: In your eyes, what’s the best part of life as a musician?
KS: The best part of life as a musician is the art of making music live and watching people enjoy it! Music is transformative and healing to so many. To be a part of the joy-making process and an inspiration to others is a blessing to me.
JD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
KS: If you’d like to know more about me, my music, or Block Party Radio Show, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@kscottflute and also @blockpartyradioshow). You can also subscribe to my newsletter at www.kimscottmusic.com and to my YouTube page, Kim Scott Music.
About Kim Scott
Innervision Records recording artist, Kim Scott, released her debut album of jazz music for flute in 2011 entitled “Crossing Over”, which received high acclaim. She is now a multiple #1 Billboard charting artist with 4 albums under her belt. The latest album, “Free to Be”, was named the #1 album on Smoothjazz.com’s “Top 100 Smooth Jazz Albums” chart in 2020. Kim is also host of the nationally syndicated jazz radio program, “Block Party Radio”, which airs weekly on radio and internet stations across the country. In addition to performing jazz, she is classically trained and continues to perform as a soloist in concert and with the Tuscaloosa Symphony by her married name, Kim Strickland. A BM degree was conferred in performance from Univ. of AL at Tuscaloosa (Sheryl Cohen) and an MM in performance and pedagogy from Oklahoma St. Univ. (Jonathan Keeble). Kim is Director of Student Support Services at Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Alabama where she also teaches flute.