I Create Birmingham: Kim Strickland

“Everything starts with a dream, and the rest is as simple as planning out how to make that dream become a reality through practice, hard work, discipline and time management.”

Birmingham native Kim Strickland is a nationally recognized jazz and classical flutist, performing under the name Kim Scott. She also shares her love of music and the skills she has developed with talented young musicians as an Instructor of Music at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, where she has served as the Chair of the Music Department since 2006.

After initially establishing yourself as a classical flutist, you ventured into the world of jazz to great acclaim. What inspired you to make that leap?

I was inspired to venture into the world of jazz because of the small number of flutists who were actively performing in the genre. I love classical music and have degrees in classical performance, but I also have a strong affinity for jazz! I remember listening to a jazz radio station one day and realized I hadn’t heard one recording of a flutist the whole time. In that moment, I decided that I wanted to change that and help put the flute back on the jazz map. I took that leap back in 2011 with my debut album Crossing Over, and now I’m three records in and signed to the Innervision Records label out of Laguna Nigel, California.

In addition to releasing three albums and chairing ASFA’s Music Department, you have a nationally syndicated radio program. How do you juggle all of these elements of your work?

I believe that my years of study as a musician taught me great discipline and patience. I learned early on that applying these lessons to my everyday life would allow me to be much more successful in getting things done. It helps that these aspects of my jobs are related and feed off of one another. I am greatly inspired by my students and teaching at ASFA, and being a great performing artist enhances my teaching and inspires my students! My syndicated radio show Block Party Radio inspires the listening audience, which increases their knowledge and desire for more jazz music in their lives. Then there is my family life, which is a huge blessing and support network for me. I am a wife and mother, so I try to keep a balance between family life and work life. It takes great effort, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it!

You were born and raised in Birmingham, you’ve spent a significant portion of your professional career here, and you have worked with an array of talented local musicians. Who has particularly inspired you over the years?

I’ve been blessed to work with many talented musicians, locally and across the world! I draw inspiration from many people and experiences, so it’s hard to name just one. I believe that’s what also gives me the drive to keep striving and growing, because there are so many greats that came before me and sketched the pathway. I’m committed to continue “paving the road” for other young musicians who will come after me. Early on some of my inspirations were people like my mother Belinda Floyd, who is a retired music educator of the Birmingham School System, and one of my college flute professors, Dr. Sheryl Cohen, who told me that I had an innate gift for playing the flute and that I needed to share it with the world. Other inspirations for me are my students, professionals flutists like Hubert Laws and the late Dave Valentin, and the many educators that poured into me by providing encouragement, opportunity, and allowing me to dream big!

How does your experience as a performer inform your teaching? Would you say that your experience as a teacher influences your performances as well?

My performance experiences most definitely shape my teaching and allow me to offer students the best pedagogy I can provide. I share real world experiences like how to mentally and physically prepare for a performance, how to manage the business of music, how to prepare for auditions, how to read a music contract, and how to market yourself. I even share with my students how to prepare to record their own projects and market them. In turn, my teaching experience does fuel my performances! I know my students are watching my every move and I take great pride in being the very best role model for them.

What advice would you give to Birmingham’s aspiring young musicians?

My advice to Birmingham’s aspiring young musicians is to have a vision and set high goals for yourself! Everything starts with a dream, and the rest is as simple as planning out how to make that dream become a reality through practice, hard work, discipline and time management. I tell my students all the time that I know it sounds cliché, but if they will just trust me on the process, it really works! Just yesterday I was a little girl who loved music and loved the flute. All I wanted to do was play the flute for a living and some people told me that was unrealistic. I saw the vision, set my goals, and worked my way to this beautifully satisfying musical life that I wouldn’t trade for the world!