Kimberley Locke is no stranger to the spotlight, placing third on season two of American Idol, putting out hit songs like 2004′s “Eighth World Wonder“, making TV appearances on VH1′s Celebrity Fit Club and earning a feature in People Magazine. But she’s no one trick pony, either—the Idol alum has a new single on the way, a new ABC show co-host gig alongside Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn and a recently-founded entertainment company. We sat down with Locke to talk about selecting the new single, the challenges of balancing her television and musical careers and her plans for I Am Entertainment.
OS: What sparked your decision to have fans vote on your songs to determine your next single?
KL: I think I was just trying to engage my fans, and I think a lot of the time when it comes to music selection the fans get left out of that process. That decision is left to the powers that be, and sometimes even the artist doesn’t get to have a big say-so in that, depending on the situation.…So I was thinking I’d have to pick the three singles that I really liked, and I was like, “Well, why don’t I just engage the fans and let them help me really narrow it down?” So that’s kind of how we came up with that whole idea, because I think the fans like to be engaged and they like to be a part of that process.
OS: Do you have a favorite that you’re hoping the fans pick?
KL: I have to say not really, because the three that I’m putting up I’m big fans of. It’s one of those things where you can’t decide which one, so it’s like, “Okay, if either one of these make it I’ll be completely satisfied.” [Laughs]
OS: So tell us about I Am Entertainment—what are your plans for that company?
KL: Well, I Am Entertainment is an entertainment company. One of the reasons I wanted to create the company is a) for artists–whether it’s consulting with artists on their project or helping them figure out what the next steps are, and really giving artists great, sound advice about the business of their career. I think that a lot of artists are out there trying to figure it out on their own, when we all can use a little guidance. I think that I can give some good advice, considering that I’ve been in the industry now for eight and a half years. I’ve learned a few things. I’m not saying that I’ve learned everything by any stretch of the imagination, because I am still learning things. But I wanted to create a company that is for the artist….because the sky is really the limit in terms of the different areas and genres that you can go into….I kind of want the company to just be what it is, about entertainment, no matter what capacity or genre of the business it’s in.
OS: When you released your most recent song through Dream Merchant 21, there was a “singles clause” in your contract and you were very conscious of the fact that we live in a singles-driven industry these days. How does that effect you when you’re working on new material?
KL: I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think there’s much of a difference…even when you’re only recording a single. When I first started this process and I didn’t really know exactly what my next move was going to be, I basically was like, “Okay, well I’m just going to write every day.” So what happened when I did start the company and I did decide that I was going to go independent and release the next single, I looked up and I already had ten songs recorded. So I’m like, “I have to pick one single, A, and B, what am I going to do with the rest of these songs?” The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had enough songs for an album, so do we release an album or do we only release a single? I think doing the singles only thing kind of works in the respect that it gives you time to see what the single’s going to do… I think in another respect, it keeps the fans on their toes. They know that next single is coming every six to eight months, they don’t have to wait two years to get another single. I think it’ s a great way to keep the artist out there on a consistent basis with new, fresh music and new sounds or something different. But at the end of the day, you can say, “Hey, I’ve got ten songs, let’s do an album,” and that gives you a little bit of flexibility I think in how you want to work it and what your plan is and what your goal is.
OS: You’ve had more and more co-writing credits as your career progresses. Do you find yourself becoming more comfortable with songwriting as time goes on?
KL: Yeah, absolutely. I went from not writing at all to writing five days a week. I think what people don’t understand is the writing process is so mentally exhausting some days. Some days are better than others—some days you go in there and you have these great ideas and it just kind of spews out of you, and then other days it’s a little more work and it’s a little more taxing. Especially when you’re writing from the heart and writing from your experience. But I think you get better at it, and you find out what you’re strengths are. Then it’s all about being partnered with the right person that makes you even more comfortable…
OS: In addition to your music, you’re also lined up to co-host a new ABC show—The Revolution—can you tell us what that’s going to be about?
KL: I’m so excited! The Revolution—which by the way, that’ s a working title, I don’t know if they’re completely sold on that title yet—basically is a lifestyle transformation show. It’s going to be on five days a week. When you talk about health and lifestyle, it kind of encompasses everything. I think it’s a feel-good show, it’s an uplifting show. It’s about giving people takeaways on a daily basis that they can actually transform their lives. I think sometimes we get overwhelmed with biting off more than we can chew, and we want a quick fix, and we want it to happen overnight. Change takes time, and that’s what our show is about. We follow our guests for a total of five months, and watch them transform their lives in a way that the viewing audience will be like, “Oh my gosh, I can totally do this.” That’s what we want to leave people feeling, whether it’s their health, their finances, their bedroom, their family—whatever it is they want to do, and however they want to transform their life, we’ll give them daily takeaways… and those things will set our viewers up for success instead of setting them up for failure. That’s what the show is about.
OS: Helping people must be something that’s important to you, don’t you do a lot of charity work?
KL: I do a lot of charity work with one charity in particular, I work with One Heartland. I’ve been working with them for six years—seven years maybe—and I recently became a member of the board, which was very exciting. When I first started working with the organization their focus was pediatric AIDS, mainly focusing on mother to child transmission. And because of wonderful research, mother to child transmission is really down. It’s actually something we can prevent from happening. So we recently revamped our program to include children who are socially ostracized, the LGBT community, children who have other terminal illnesses or just have life-threatening illnesses or who just have liveable illnesses that they’re dealing with. Because what we do is we send kids to camp every year for free. What we’ve learned is that camp is such a healing process, and our camp is a safe camp where they can go and meet other kids who are in the same situation and understand that they’re not in this world alone. Working with them has really changed my life, it’s been such a positive experience… I love it because I love to watch the organization grow into something bigger.
OS: This isn’t the first time you’ve been on television, you’ve appeared on Celebrity Fit Club, Family Feud and of course, Idol. What are some of the difficulties of reconciling your music career with your television appearances?
KL: You know, I don’t see that as a difficulty at all. All the jobs feed the greater good, and they all kind of feed the same dream. I think that being on television five days a week is only going to help grow my music career. People will always know me as a singer, because that’s what I do. That’s my talent, and that’s how I came onto the scene. I think that now, it’s just about me broadening my career and the scope of my career into different areas.
OS: Idol alums Matt Rogers and Kimberly Caldwell have also tried their hands at hosting TV shows. Is there something about the experience on Idol that predispositions you guys for television hosting?
KL: I think there’s a lot that prepares you for that role, I just think that it’s recognizing that. A lot of contestants get off the show and they only focus on the music, and they only focus on singing. And that’s great, if that’s what they choose to do. But there’s a plethora of opportunities out there that you can take, and one of them is being a personality on television. Because that’s where your audience came from—you just spent seven months on television in front of the world, basically.
OS: With the show, the production company, and singing, you must be the type of person who just can’t sit still for too long.
KL: [Laughs] I love it, though. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Voting on Kimberley’s new tracks ends today, so hurry on over to her Facebook page to help pick her next single!