Kimberly Caldwell Talks Life After 'American Idol'
By Dave Steinfeld Posted Jan 3rd 2011 10:15AM
Kimberly Caldwell has been a familiar face in pop culture since she made the top 10 during the second season of 'American Idol' -- a season that produced Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Kimberly Locke, among others. Since that time, the Texas native and former beauty pageant winner has released the occasional single and worked as an entertainment correspondent on various TV shows. Back in 1995, she also performed at the 50th wedding anniversary of former President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara.
Now, Caldwell is ready for her close-up. This spring, she will finally unveil her long-awaited debut album, 'Without Regret.' She worked on the disc with a number of music industry heavyweights. 'Without Regret' will be preceded by the new single 'Desperate Girls and Stupid Boys.' With a single that's made for radio, a strong personality and good looks, Kimberly Caldwell seems to have everything it takes to become a household name. PopEater recently caught up with her over coffee during her visit to New York City.
Tell us a little bit about 'Desperate Girls and Stupid Boys' and what it's about.
Every time I hear the name of the song, I get a little smirk on my face because it's just a really funny title. And not to say that I've never been desperate and stupid -- we've all had our desperate and stupid moments. For me, the message is that people should really put energy into things that are positive in their life. I know the most lonely I've ever been is when I'm in a club with 500 drunk people. The happiest I've ever been is when I'm with my little sisters and my dog, playing board games at my house. I just really wanted to be a good role model -- saying that it's okay to have been that way, but just make sure that you try to put all your energy into things that deserve it.
The album 'Without Regret' won't be out until the spring. Can you tell us a little about what we can expect? Are most of the songs in the same vein as 'Desperate'?
No, not at all. It's very eclectic. A lot of the songs I write -- because I grew up country -- tend to have a blues vibe to them. I was fortunate enough to get four tracks that I co-wrote on my first album, which I'm so proud of. This being my first deal, a lot of people don't get that much so I pride myself on that.
I never wanted to say, "This is who I am – and only this." I really grew up on country and then during 'Idol' I was labeled "the rocker chick." But then I write blues. And one of the songs [on the album] called 'If You're Gonna Fall' is really R&B and it's one of my favorites to perform because I get to go to that really soulful part of my voice. And then of course the pop side. I love dancing and I love hanging out with my girlfriends and getting ready to go out with them. So this album really shows every side of me.
You mentioned country music. You grew up in Texas and sang at the Grand Ole Opry. Was country a big influence for you growing up?
Massively. I mean, Randy Travis was a huge inspiration for me. The first song I ever learned, at the age of five, was 'Forever and Ever Amen' by Randy Travis. I was in love with Alabama. The Judds are probably my biggest inspiration overall. Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride – all the women who were huge superstars and still are today -- they really influenced how I sing, how I write and the passion that I'm able to deliver.
Tell us about the video you're releasing this month.
Yes, early January, for 'Desperate Girls and Stupid Boys.' People always say, "What has been one of the highlights so far?" Of course, in my childhood it was things like The Grand Ole Opry and 'Star Search.' But the biggest highlight since starting with the label has definitely been shooting the videos. I think that's the ultimate. I've been practicing in the mirror for those moments my whole life! So I think I have it down.
The video crew said there's gonna be me with my non-desperate and stupid people and then all the people in the club are gonna be desperate and stupid: Portraying desperate and stupid! I met them all, they were very lovely. So of course they were gonna go cast my best friends for the video and I said, "How 'bout if I really use my best friends?" And they said, "Awesome!" So my little sister Kristy is featured in the video, who is absolutely my best friend. She's lived with me in Los Angeles for I don't know how many years now and has always been my rock. And then my best friend Tunde, who we know from Texas, and now lives with me and my little sister in our house in Los Angeles. So me, Kristy, my best friend Tunde and my other really good friend Brian. We had to throw a boy in the mix! We all play best friends in the video. It made it not only easy to act but it also made it that much more special.
You were on the second season of 'Idol' that produced Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Kim Locke. Are you still in touch with any of them?
Yeah, I just did a show with Kimberley Locke and Frenchie Davis. And I still stay in touch with Ruben. He knows more than anybody how touring and all of this is so exciting but still so overwhelming. He will call and leave me a message, just to say, "I love you and you can do this and if you ever need me or feel too overwhelmed, just call. I'll talk you through it as much as I can."
That's really nice.
Yeah. It sounds so cliché, but we really did become a little family. We're all like distant brothers and sisters and cousins.
It seemed season two of 'Idol' had a very diverse group of people. Ruben and Clay finished first and second that season, seemed so different from each other but also seemed really close.
Yeah, very much so. They were really close. And they're going on tour again together. They're gonna do great.
And Kim Locke is absolutely beautiful.
Oh, I tell her all the time. Kimberley and Frenchie both are stunning women that I really admire.
What is your take on 'Idol' as it is now? It's changed a lot since you were on it.
I miss the old days. I think the rawness of it -- the contestants not knowing where to go and what to do made it so brilliant. We sang to tracks, we didn't have backup singers, we didn't have a band. We slept out on the street for two days to get a spot in line. Now they group them in the stadium and give them a ticket and they just kinda come back at a certain time. And now there's a full band and great backup singers and the light shows and the props that they have. I was really scared when I heard that Simon Cowell was leaving. I think he was such a huge part of the show.
Love him or hate him, Simon was synonymous with 'Idol' for so long.
Yeah. People always said he was so mean. And Simon is not mean, actually; he's very much the guy who loves puppies. He's totally a softy. The music industry is a brutal industry. And the things that were coming out of his mouth were probably kind compared to most of the things you'll hear once you start going to labels. They don't mess around.
You and your sister rehabilitate injured animals, and you were a daycare teacher for awhile. Tell me a little about that stuff. Is there a maternal side to you?
Oh my gosh, for sure. I've always said one of the biggest goals in my life is to be a professional singer and have a career and go on tour. But I think the first goal in my life is to be a really great mom one day. Right this second in my life is not the right time. But I have five little sisters who I love and adore, and I really take pride in knowing that I had a hand in raising them.
Before 'Idol,' the only job that I could really keep was being a daycare teacher. It's the only thing I was good at. It's the only time I ever wanted to go to work, besides singing. It was 17 two-year-olds and it was chaotic, but I was like the diaper-changing champion of the world. I really don't have a lot of patience for mean people -- but I have so much patience with kids. They're the only ones I think that are left untainted in this world.
What's on the agenda for 2011?
January 5th is when I fly back out to the east coast. January 6th I start the radio/promo tour and then it's literally press, promos, radio, acoustic shows -- probably three times a day until the middle of February. Then I think I'll have two or three days off in Los Angeles and back on the road again. So it'll probably be about two-and-a-half months straight -- literally, every day. And I'm ready.
Watch Kimberly Caldwell's 'Mess of You' video here.
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