More than eight years after beginning the recording process for her first album, Uptown Music Collective teacher Kimberly Adair released "Voice of My Soul" on Jan. 7.
A CD release concert and signing will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 21, in the Capital Lounge at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St. She will perform with her band, Kimberly Adair and Soulful.
The 35-year-old singer performs gospel, jazz, soul and R&B, but has personally dubbed her sound "inspirational jazz."
Adair, a native of Egypt, Miss., and the oldest of four children, said she was born into a very musical family.
"My mom plays piano and sings, my dad plays the bass guitar and sings; my grandmother - she was the Mahalia Jackson of the community. So, I just grew up around music from my birth," she said.
She began singing when she was 5 years old and started playing piano at age 7. She also played clarinet from the sixth grade through high school and in her teen years, taught herself how to play the drums.
"They (her family) allowed me to explore the different instruments and decide what I wanted to do," she said. "I was never forced into it. It's just something that I love doing."
Adair lived in Memphis for 10 years, where she attended a year of medical school and taught elementary science for four years.
She moved to Williamsport in 2009 with hopes of working in the mental health field, but also missed teaching and had always wanted to have the chance to teach music to young musicians.
"I was offered a position at the Uptown Music Collective and I jumped on it, and it's like my dream job," Adair said. "I don't feel like I'm going to work every day, I just love it. Just being able to share my love for music. I think that's what makes it so fun because music is so versatile."
She teaches voice and piano at UMC, as well as Robert M. Sides.
Adair loves to watch her students perform and says she is "all smiles" when she watches them up on the stage.
"It's amazing to look at what we go through in the weekly lessons and then they get up there on that stage and just bring it!"
Never giving up on her dream of completing her album, which she began recording at the House of Blues in Memphis in 2003, she made a decision to give it another go in 2010.
"So many obstacles came our way, financially, because we are an independent label. The financing and the timing - it kind of fell apart," she said. "In 2010, I made a decision. I just prayed to God and turned it over to God and I allowed Him to guide me in the right direction. I started from scratch and from May 2010 until October of last year, that's how long it took after we started over."
The album was recorded on her own independent record label, Meant 2 B Music, with the same lineup of songs originally planned at the album's inception in 2003.
"I feel very good about it (the album). I'm glad I did it because I'm very satisfied with the end product," she said.
Adair had a lot of help putting her album together, from producers to musicians and five background singers, three of which are from Williamsport.
A few of her family members are represented on the album as well. Her sister sang background vocals, her father, Mitchel, played bass on some of the songs and her cousin Walter "Groove" Cunningham played saxophone.
"A lot of people helped me out," she said. "I was very blessed to have this group of people because they did it because they enjoyed the music and they believed in me and I am very thankful for that."
She said her favorite part about the recording process was being able to be creative and do her own thing.
"Having full creative control of the project and just being there and being with the other musicians and producers - it was just fun," she said.
Adair said she is in the process of setting up tour dates across the country which may include shows in Baton Rouge, La.; St. Louis, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn. and San Diego, Calif.
"Even though it's tiring (touring), it's exciting because it's something new and I've always wanted to do it," she said.
Through her musical travels, she has performed twice at the Memphis Grizzlies games, BB King Blues Club in Memphis, she came in first place twice at the Apollo Theater in New York, the Village Underground in New York, Trinity Broadcast Network on the Praise the Lord show and many others.
"There's just a passion for it (music)," she said. "And that passion never dies, so it's just something inside that motivates me to continue with it. Music never gets boring."
For more information about Kimberly Adair and Soulful, visit www.meant2brecords.com.