“Kimmie Rhodes: The soul of a poet and the voice of an angel.”

– Rodney Crowell

“Kimmie has the voice of a beautiful child coming from an old soul. She touches us where the better angels of our nature dwell, and I believe we need that now more than ever. If you haven’t before, do yourself a favor and bring her into your listening life.”

– Emmylou Harris

“… a highly respected and much loved artist/songwriter hailing from Buddy’s birthplace, Lubbock, TX. It gives me great pleasure that she has one of our unique guitars titled “Lonesome Tears” and has joined our close knit family as an Ambassador of The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation.”

– Maria Elena Holly

“Kimmie Rhodes: The soul of a poet and the voice of an angel.”

– Rodney Crowell

“Kimmie has the voice of a beautiful child coming from an old soul. She touches us where the better angels of our nature dwell, and I believe we need that now more than ever. If you haven’t before, do yourself a favor and bring her into your listening life.”

– Emmylou Harris

“… a highly respected and much loved artist/songwriter hailing from Buddy’s birthplace, Lubbock, TX. It gives me great pleasure that she has one of our unique guitars titled “Lonesome Tears” and has joined our close knit family as an Ambassador of The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation.”

– Maria Elena Holly

Kimmie Rhodes Short Bio 2022Kimmie Rhodes is a Modern Renaissance Woman. She has a proven array of skills and expertise, from songwriting to gourmet cooking, from playwright to humorist, documentarian to ambassador, and more. A native Texan, she was raised in Lubbock, where she cultivated the spirited mix of talent and determination that still fuels her success.

In her three-decade-plus career, the Austin-based singer-songwriter has released 16 solo albums; written and produced three musical plays; published a novella/cookbook and a memoir; and written many multi-platinum songs, recorded by such stellar artists as Willie Nelson, Wynonna Judd, Trisha Yearwood, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Joe Ely, Waylon Jennings, Peter Frampton, Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris, and others.

Along the way, she has become an international ambassador for the Buddy Holly Education Foundation, recorded with a host of national treasures; written cookbooks and food articles for national publications, been a costume designer for major motion pictures, and built a strong following in the United States and Europe.

 

Personal life

Kimmie grew up in Lubbock, Texas and began her singing career at the age of six with her family gospel trio. She moved to Austin in 1979, where she met DJ at the legendary KOKE-FM and producer Joe Gracey, an instrumental figure in the Austin progressive country scene, who she eventually married. Joe was her constant companion, muse, bass player and general “partner in crime” until he died of cancer in November 2011.

Early career

          In 1981, she recorded her first album, Kimmie Rhodes and the Jackalope Brothers when Willie Nelson invited her to use his studio. In 1985, she recorded her second album, Man In the Moon. Her third album, Angels Get the Blues, recorded at the original Sun Studio in Memphis, was released in 1989. These records led to a series of British and European tours that received rave reviews. Kimmie’s 1998 CD release is a compilation of original songs from these three albums called Jackalopes, Moons & Angels. This Jackalope Records release marked the first time these songs have been available as one collection.

Kimmie’s promotional tours created a solid fan base in the U.K., Ireland, and Europe. She has headlined with her band at festivals all over the world and has appeared on many European and American TV and radio broadcasts. She has also appeared at many of Willie’s Farm Aid concerts and Fourth of July Picnics. Willie dubbed Kimmie “an undiscovered superstar” and together they recorded two of her originals for his album, Just One Love, and a duet album, Picture in a Frame.

Television

Kimmie appeared on Austin City Limits with Emmylou Harris, Dave Mathews, Patty Griffin, and Buddy & Julie Miller, where she and Emmylou performed their song “Ordinary Heart.” She guested on Late Night with David Letterman, performing “West Texas Heaven” at his request. Kimmie’s TV appearances also include a songwriter “guitar pull” Austin City Limits show with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Billy Joe Shaver. New West Records recently released a DVD of that show titled Outlaw Country.

She performed in two segments of The Nashville Network’s Legend Series hosted by Willie Nelson, and another segment hosted by Waylon Jennings. Waylon said, “When I hear Kimmie sing it makes me know what the phrase ‘pulling on your heart strings’ means.”

Kimmie co-wrote a song, “Lines,” with Waylon for his Justice release, Right for The Time.  At her own Sunbird Studios, Rhodes hosted some of the Austin’s finest singer-songwriters to film a segment of Bob Harris’ iconic Back Toseries for WBBC-TV.

Motion Pictures and Documentaries

Kimmie’s movie soundtrack credits include “A Heart That’s True” for the Babe: A Pig in the City album; “I’m Not An Angel” featured in the soundtrack of Mrs. Winterbourne;  and a song in the  Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got theWill  soundtrack. Her song “Shine All Your Light,” co-written with Beth Nielson Chapman, was recorded by Amy Grant for the Touched by an Angel TV series soundtrack and album release, which reached the Top Ten in Billboard’s charts. Beth chose the song to be the first single off her new CD, Prism. Kimmie co-wrote “Ordinary Heart” with Emmylou Harris which was featured in the soundtrack to the movie, Happy Texas. Emmylou’s performance of the song was nominated for a Grammy®.

Kimmie served as an associate producer on filmmaker Eric Geadelmann’s six-part documentary, They Called Us Outlaws. Dedicated to the memory of Joe Gracey and Waylon Jennings, it is being presented in association with The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ‘70s exhibit which opened May 2018 and will run through the end of 2022.

Discography

Kimmie’s 1996 album, “West Texas Heaven” features twelve of her original songs and includes duets with Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt and Willie Nelson. USA Today said, “listening to West Texas Heaven is like a sweet unhurried ramble through bluebonnets,” picking the album for their “Best Bets” section. USA Today later picked the album as one of the “Top Ten Country Records” for that year.

Kimmie 2000 release was Rich from the Journey (Sunbird), produced by her son Gabe Rhodes. Featuring a guest appearance by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and performances by such great musicians as Kevin Savigar, the late Jimmy Day and John Gardner.

In 2002, Kimmie released Love Me Like a Song (Sunbird).  The album features duets with Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Beth Neilsen Chapman, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. The album’s artwork comes from a series of Kimmie’s original oil paintings.

In 2003, she released a compilation of duets with Willie Nelson titled Picture in a Frame. It was their first duet CD, featuring the Tom Waits-penned title track, a new Willie song, “It Always Will Be,” five original Kimmie tunes, and classics from Rodney Crowell and Willie. Recorded at Willie’s World Headquarters in Luck, Texas with a small acoustic group, this album captures Willie and Kimmie at their most intimate and relaxed. Picture in a Frame was recently released for the first time on vinyl as a special edition collector’s item.

Her 2004 album release titled Lost & Found, a set of never-released songs recorded between 1996 and 2003, features a song co-written with Waylon Jennings and other tracks with a host of talented writing partners, as well as some of Kimmie’s best self-penned tunes.

In 2005, Kimmie released Windblown, which also served as the soundtrack for a performance art piece featuring live music, interpretive dance, and character portrayals by Joe Sears, with its debut performance in January 2005.

In 2005 Sunbird released Ten Summers, a compilation reprising ten years of Kimmie’s favorite recordings from 1995 to 2005.

In 2008, Walls Fall Down was recorded and released on her independent label, Sunbird. In support of Walls Fall Down, Kimmie toured ten European countries, including the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, and some guest appearances with her friend and writing partner, Emmylou Harris, Canada’s Edmonton Folk Festival and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco.

In 2010, a long-awaited album of her original Christmas songs Miracles on Christmas Day was released followed by a promotional tour, including special Christmas shows in Britain and Ireland.

Kimmie Rhodes’ album Dreams of Flying which was released in, 2011, features original songs and a classic duet with her friend and fellow Lubbock native, Joe Ely.

In 2013, in a rare moment for the well-known songwriter, Kimmie released an album covering some of her favorite songs, entitled Kimmie Rhodes Covers.

Covers marked a “sea change” for Kimmie Rhodes. For the first time, this “songwriter’s songwriter” put down her pen to devote an entire album to singing the songs of those artists whose music has served as milestones throughout her storied performing and recording career, as well as her life.

In her first studio adventure since the passing of longtime partner and collaborator Joe Gracey, Kimmie drawsdeep from a wide range of catalogues – Thiele and Weiss, Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Jimmy Reed, Mark Knopfler, Dylan, Bono, Tom Petty, Leon Russell, Neil Young and Tom Waits, and channels close friends Townes Van Zandt and Rodney Crowell; telling each story in that clear, soaring songbird voice that takes ownership of everycomposition.

Kimmie’s album of all original songs titled Cowgirl Boudoir was released in the spring of 2015. The Sunbird Studios House Band delivered a mélange of steel guitar, dobro, ukulele, mandolin, electric sitar, B3 organ and percussions that underscored this edgy musical autobiography with “cowpunkadelical” perfection.

Author, Playwright, and Storyteller

In 2000, Kimmie and Joe Gracey co-authored a novella/cookbook, The Amazing Afterlife of Zimmerman Fees(Sunbird Press). The project is a whimsical fantasy that combined their knowledge of travel and cuisine with a generous serving of humor. Some of Kimmie’s most requested recipes are included in the book, making it a standard on collectors’ cookbook shelves.

After several years of sifting through archives and journals left behind by her late soul mate, beloved radio personality Joe Gracey, Rhodes published Radio Dreams: The Story of the Outlaw DJ and the Cosmic Cowgirl, a “duet memoir” that weaves her own poetic prose with wry and witty posthumous musings from Gracey. Released in the Spring of 2018, Radio Dreams invites readers into their private world, returning Joe to the conversation to help tell the fascinating story of their lives. Her trippy songwriter tales and his alternately hilarious and poignant writings take readers on a time-machine adventure, from Saturday mornings spent watching country-and-western TV stars to the wild ‘70s era in which Vietnam war-protesting hippies, weary of the fight, kicked back with rednecks to play some music in the “Groover’s Paradise” of Austin, Texas.

Fueled by the popularity of Radio Dreams, Kimmie has delighted audiences with tales and songs related to the book, with speaking/singing engagements at bookstores, university forums and graduate classes, on cruises and of course at her own concerts in the USA and Europe.

A playwright and actress as well, Kimmie’s debut theatrical project was her musical, Small Town Girl, directed by and starring Joe Sears of Greater Tuna. She also released an album by that title of the music featured in the play. She and Joe Sears then wrote and produced a musical revue, Hillbilly Heaven. She worked with Sears as Musical Director for his outdoor drama production of Trail of Tears for the Cherokee Heritage Center from 2001 through 2003.

More recently, she co-starred in a theatrical production with fellow playwright Jaston Williams (of Greater Tunafame) in a hilarious and poignant storytelling romp called Is There Life after Lubbock. She as toured England with Bob Harris (BBC 2, Old Grey Whistle Test) Ralph McLean (BBC Ulster) and RTE Radio DJ Sandy Harsch, in an “evening with” format, swapping musical adventures and singing songs.

Ambassador

Kimmie is very involved as an honorary ambassador for The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to honor Buddy’s legacy as well as to fulfill Buddy and Maria Elena Holly’s dream of extending musical education including songwriting, production, arrangements, orchestration, and performance to new generations regardless of income, ethnicity or learning levels.

 Rhodes visits Glastonbury, England annually to attend Squeeze co-founder Chris Difford’s songwriting retreat at Pennard House, where established singer-songwriters share knowledge and co-write with aspiring young talents. Foundation co-founders and Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly, celebrated Rhodes’ efforts by presenting her with a custom-made guitar crafted by famed luthier Alistair Atkin. A replica of Buddy Holly’s 1943 J-45, the guitar is encased in hand-tooled leather. Fellow ambassadors with whom Rhodes shares this special honor, each presented with a uniquely titled guitar, include Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Brian Wilson, Dolly Parton and Bob Dylan.

The Future

The Austin Chronicle calls Kimmie Rhodes “a prolific fixture in Texas music.” Today, she continues to make her home in the Texas hill country outside of Austin and is working on a new book with the working title “Eat or Die,” which, in her signature humorous style, offers gourmet reminiscences and recipes gleaned from her intrepid life as a touring artist and all around “foodie.”

She is developing a songwriting-storyteller show which will include a reprise of some of her best work along with some new material and will open that tour in the fall of 2022.  She has locked in some exclusive shows including a cruise, conferences, and festivals; as well as a limited number of her very successful “special event house concerts.”

Kimmie is also writing and making pre-production plans for a new album of all original songs to be recorded at her own Sunbird Studios this summer for a spring 2023 release. Kimmie spends several months each year in her second home in the South of France, writing and performing – and making plans for “what happens next.”