#LetTheGirlsPlay: Kim Paige Is Country’s Most Unfiltered Newcomer
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but if Kim Paige’s book came with a list of her songs on it, you’d get pretty close. There’s “I Love Beer” and “Go Home L.A.,” which are self-explanatory. “Overthinker” is her deepest offering. “We Need a Wife” is not so much tongue-in-cheek as it is a gum-bumping referendum on housework.
Yes, there’s more to Paige once you dig into Chapter 1. But this amalgam of influences comes across part Miranda Lambert, part mid-00s Brad Paisley and part Amy Schumer onstage. She’s charming and adorable, but is an absolute word surgeon. Her insistence on sticking to funny country songs doesn’t preclude her from serious songwriting appointments. That’s her meal ticket.
Take “Go Home L.A.” for example. “That’s just a song a lot of people have been wanting to hear,” Paige says, sipping a beer. “We have all these track guys and girls coming from L.A. to write a country song and you go in a co-write and they’re like, ‘I have this awesome idea for a country song,’ and I’m like, ‘OK, let me hear it,’ and they press the space bar and it’s like [mimics an electronic beat] and I’m like, ‘OK, bye.'”
"I just loved that my friends were listening to the Christina Aguilera and the Britney Spears CDs and I just remember sitting in the car with my Grandma and she’d be doing that old Patsy Cline sway."
At a recent Song Suffragettes show in Nashville Paige played “Go Home L.A.” before a table of Los Angelenos without flinching. They loved it. Somehow she’s able to package confrontational, controversial or just taboo topics in a way that appeals to everyone. Well, almost everyone. It’s not clear if her mother loves “I Love Beer.” The song came during a recent songwriters week in Mexico and begins with “Mama thinks I’m a drunk / I’ll let her think what she wants / But I’m just having fun.”
“Before I fly I like I like to grab a Jack and Coke,” Paige explains. “If I’m watching a sad movie I like to get some wine, if I’m about to dive in the water with fish and sharks … I’m probably gonna have to shotgun a beer. And my mom during that trip was like, ‘Kim, you’re drunk. You’re drunk. You don’t need a beer.'”
Paige is a good-natured extrovert who truly enjoys throwing herself into new situations. Archery, pottery, swimming with sharks … this classically trained pianist gave it up for basketball in high school but realized she missed her true love one day during practice. She had once again snuck away from the team to go play a classroom piano.
“I also did opera for awhile,” she says, laughing a kind of self-effacing cackle that forces you to laugh with her. While she lists women like Brandi Carlisle, Jewel and Faith Hill (especially Faith Hill) as influences, she’s a throwback in many ways. While her friends were listening to Britney Spears albums she was enjoying her grandmother’s Patsy Cline collection. After college she signed a publishing deal, but only recently began focusing on a career as an artist. She got a big boost last fall when nationally syndicated radio host Bobby Bones invited her into the studio to sing “We Need a Wife.”
Watch Kim Paige Sing “We Need a Wife”
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That experience led to “Overthinkers.” It’s rare she slows down — Paige admits she prefers to constantly be in motion — and when she does her mind goes to a familiar place.
“Even like the Bobby Bones thing, that’s huge,” she says. “And then when I finally stop for a minute I’m like, ‘But does he still like me, is he gonna play me more …’ and I’m totally overthinking everything.”
These moments often come with a cigar and a glass of red wine. She may be in front of her piano as well — this is her safe space.
“I don’t know how to put the two together,” February’s #LetTheGirlsPlay artist of the month says of her appreciation for Bach and Beethoven and beer-swilling country ditties. “I have a deep love for music. Classical music and opera and all that kind of stuff is a whole different thing. It’s not even like music. It’s a relationship. And then my humorous side is just, that’s how I am every day.”