Kimberly StarKey was born in Ashland, Oregon on May 30th, 1986. As a young child, she enjoyed exploring the smooth and shiny keys of the piano. After her father passed away when she was five, her musical interest deepened. Comforted by making up simple melodies, she found that music lessened the gap his passing had created between them. Her mother enrolled her in piano lessons at age 8, but she quit within a year. As her interest in creating her own music increased, the desire to take piano lessons decreased. Despite a lack of formal training, she often performed her own compositions, none of which were notated, 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 becoming a film composer she left high school at age 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 in California, she moved to Alaska at the age of seventeen with her sister. Together they rented a small cabin without running water, and attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF), where Kimberly aspired to enter the 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 age 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 dark, mysterious, powerful, radiant, intense, and transcendent. It is rooted in both romantic-classical and contemporary musical styles, and has been described as "neo-classical", "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 and an improvisational arrangement 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.
After becoming an independent artist in 2013, she released her first original solo piano album, Dream. Dream is powerful, beautiful, and intensely charged. It's warm and dreamy atmospheric quality makes it the perfect soundtrack to life. Dream has premiered on the radio in New South Whales, Australia, and will soon hit stations in Kimberly's home country, the United States.
She continues to record and release her original music and looks forward to continuing to express the joy she feels in the art of composing and sharing her work with the world. She is in the process of composing and recording a her own concerto, a 3 movement piece for symphony and piano, to be completed in 2013.
"Kimberly's music rises like a flood from her soul. It encircles the room and lifts us time and time again."
"Kimberly plays from her heart with creativity, passion and deep heartfelt soul. She is exceptionally talented and her notes roll with amazing fluidity. Kimberly is one of a kind and a musician whose love for her art is evident in every note."
"Kimberly is fearless, I have no doubt her music will reach people all over the world"
"Kimberly plays the piano with beauty, elegance and subtlety. Her music creates an atmosphere of warmth."