Kimberly StarKey was born in Ashland, Oregon on May 30th, 1986. As a child, she enjoyed exploring the smooth and shiny keys of the piano and hearing the music they made. Her father passed away when she was five and it was then that her musical interest deepened even further. She was comforted by making up simple melodies and found that music brought her closer to him. Her mother enrolled her in piano lessons at age 8, but she quit within a year. Her interest in creating her own music increased and her desire to take piano lessons decreased.
Despite a lack of formal training, she often performed her own compositions for talent shows and school concerts. When Ashland Middle School's orchestra teacher, Gerry Pare, spoke of young Kimberly's pieces, she described it as music that was full of emotion and "[pulled] at the heartstrings". In hopes of composing music for films, she left high school at the age of 16 and became one of the youngest students at Musician's Institute in Hollywood, California, and one of the only females in the school’s recording engineering program at that time.
After completing the recording engineering program at the age of 17, she moved to Alaska with her sister. Together they rented a small cabin without running water, and attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF), where Kimberly enrolled in their Piano Performance Program. She knew music was at the heart of her life's dream, and she was ready to make a commitment to excel. At her first meeting with world class pianist, conductor, and UAF Professor Dr. Eduard Zilberkant, Kimberly was asked to play a piece of music. With no traditional or classical pieces in her repertoire she made the courageous and risky decision to spontaneously make up a song and perform it for him. Although she lacked in all of the formal aspects of piano proficiency, Dr. Zilberkant saw something else in her that could not be taught...passion. He made the decision to take her under his wing, and for two and a half years he taught her Rachmaninoff preludes, Liszt Etudes, Grieg concertos, and much more. His strict yet passionate guidance gave Kimberly the tools she needed to move to the next chapter in her life.
Kimberly said goodbye to Alaska and moved back to her hometown Ashland, Oregon, at the age of twenty-one. She attended Southern Oregon University (SOU) where she received classical training by sought after pianist, Alexander Tutunov. One of her music professors spoke of Kimberly as "the fastest learner [he] had ever witnessed."
During her first year as a student at SOU, she was approached by Rob Lowry, music director of the First United Congregational Church of Ashland (UCC). He offered her an accompanying position for regular church services and the church choir. She respectfully declined his offer, because until then she had merely memorized the classical pieces that she knew, and had never learned to sight-read music. Lowry didn't put his offer to rest. Instead, he insisted she consider the position, stating that it was not her sight-reading abilities that drew him to her, but her improvisational qualities that he wanted. After much consideration, she took the job.
For over four years, Kimberly has held positions of Music Director, Associate Music Director, and Accompanist for the Ashland UCC. Rob Lowry, as well as many other members of the congregation, have become like family to her. The church continues to serve as an incubator for her, providing a stable place for Kimberly to practice, compose, perform, nurture and develop her own skills.
Struggling to find the musical style that would further her career, in 2009 Kimberly met keyboardist and producer Dean Angermeier to learn how to play improvisational Jazz and Blues. Although she loved much of the classical music she had learned, she knew it wasn't her life's dream to pursue classical performance as a career. She felt intimidated by classical musicians and felt that her own compositions weren't worthy of success. She thought if she could be part of a clear cut genre, her music would finally be recognized. Within a couple of lessons, Angermeier listened to a recording of one of her compositions for cello and piano and was blown away by her innovative style. He encouraged her to embrace her own style as the genre she was seeking, and offered to help produce her compositions and manifest the vision she had yet to fully discover.
Kimberly's intense musical style is sometimes dark and mysterious. It is powerful, radiant, intense, and transcendent. It is rooted in both romantic-classical and contemporary musical styles, and has been described as "classical crossover", "like movie music", and ”Tchaikovsky-esc.”
In 2011, after graduating from SOU with a Bachelor's Degree in Music, Angermeier produced Kimberly’s solo piano release of a relaxing collection of Christmas songs, entitled Wish. The CD brings together traditional melodies with an improvisational style that is the trademark of her compositions. It has been available since December of 2011, and is sure to become an annual Christmas classic.
Kimberly continues to record and release her original music. She is joyfully looking forward to composing and sharing her work with the world. She is in the process of composing a Classical Crossover Concerto to be completed in 2016.