Canadian ex-opera singer pursuing her tru passion – soul, reggae & jazz
Born and raised in Canada, Kinny – aka Caitlin Simpson – has a mixture of Jamaican, Native Canadian Indian, French and Swedish heritage. An acutely talented, instinctive vocalist, she trained classically as an opera singer before the spontaneity and freedom of jazz, reggae and soul music lured her into pursuing her true passion. Describing herself as a ‘freestyle improv vocalist’, she fuses a classical mezzo-soprano sound with the jazzy attitude-soul of the likes of Erykah Badu (to whom she is frequently likened) and her voice sashays effortlessly between soaring melodies, steely staccato phrases and caramel-dipped dulcet tones with a live performance magnetism that is second to none.
The first band Kinny performed with after cutting loose from the musical theatre world was Third Eye Tribe, who became well known and highly regarded in Canada and beyond for their electrifying live shows, in which Kinny laid spontaneous, improvised vocals over electronic, dub and hip hop beats. On tour with the band in 2001, Kinny visited Bergen in Norway and loved the city so much that she moved there. Comparing Bergen to a Scandinavian version of her native Vancouver, Kinny finds inspiration and intrigue in the vibrant music scene, the extreme seasons and the peace and closeness to nature that abounds in sparsely populated countries.
In Norway, Kinny met and collaborated with the multi-talented Espen Horne (a producer, designer and professional goalkeeper…) and the fruits of their labours fell into the hands of Quantic, who passed them on to Tru Thoughts A&R Robert Luis. This resulted in the release of Kinny And Horne’s album ’Forgetting To Remember’ on Tru Thoughts in 2005. The album gained rave reviews and brought Kinny’s talent to the attention of the world’s most respected musical minds and tastemakers – including Daddy G, who invited her to audition as a vocalist for Massive Attack. Kinny became a regular visitor to the UK with gigs at The Big Chill, Cargo, Jazz Café, Native and across Europe. During this period she hooked up with a variety of producers, guesting on tracks by the likes of TM Juke, Diesler and Quantic. Her versatility and charisma, and her desire to embrace new ideas and ways of creating songs became a sign of things to come.
The first single from Kinny’s solo album (a double A side, “Enough Said” // “Desire”) came out in December 2008, to fantastic reactions from the BBC 6Music Funk & Soul Show and DJs including DJ Food and Ashley Beedle. For the album, ‘Idle Forest Of Chit Chat’, which followed in March 2009, Kinny had hand-picked a roster of seven different producers including Quantic, Nostalgia 77, TM Juke, Hint and Norwegian rising star Souldrop, to push the boundaries of her own exceptional talent and expose herself to various styles and ways of working. Kinny’s solo work showcases an original, up-to-the-minute brand of modern soul that mixes irresistible beats, incredible melodies and a pop sensibility with her own unmistakable force of personality and raw talent, and the album was picked up on and supported by Mark Lamarr (BBC Radio 2), iDJ magazine, DJ mag, Okayplayer and many other tastemakers. The second single “Back Street Lust” dropped as a digital download in September 2009, featuring a pair of killer remixes that brought Kinny’s powerful and versatile sound into down and dirty dancefloor territory. With support on the likes of Ministry Of Sound Radio and BBC 6Music, these mixes sparked enthusiastic reactions from radio and club DJs around the world.
February 2012 sees the eagerly anticipated second solo album, ‘Can’t Kill A Dame With Soul’, which was produced in its entirety by Norwegian duo Souldrop. This time, working as a unit in one room with her producer and collaborators, rather than across several international borders, enabled them to feed off each other’s energies and ideas, creating the perfect atmosphere for their creativity to thrive. The result is a cohesive and beautiful LP which finds Kinny lyrically exploring deeply personal issues with grace, candour and wit, as well as progressing her signature sound in all the right directions through Souldrop’s warm and expansive production. The first single, “Big Fat Liar”, came out on 16th January and has already been supported by Craig Charles (BBC 6Music), Laurent Garnier and DJ Mag, among others. Kinny will be performing a live session for Craig Charles in Spring.
In 2010 and 2011, while working on ‘Can’t Kill A Dame With Soul’, Kinny was highly in demand elsewhere, and also found the time to record featured vocal parts on six tracks for the major new album project by De La Soul (including the “Must B The Music” single); support Ugly Ducking on tour, and perform numerous well-received live PA gigs including a knock-out set at Bestival, as well as other UK and European shows. She has also been working on her full live band and has assembled and rehearsed the perfect set-up, something this powerful and much-praised live performer is looking forward to taking on the road in support of the new album.