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In Memory Of Our Poets

Kimberly Ann Easterling (1964-2006) - Class Of 1982

From Ms. Easterling's  brother Buddy:

... my entire family are deeply saddened by the passing of one of our most precious loved ones, Kimber Clayton, born Kimberly Ann Easterling on Christmas Day of 1964 in Montgomery, Alabama. She passed away August 14th, 2006 at the young age of 41 due to complications from kidney disease.

She was the youngest child of three children and the only girl. Having two older brothers forced her to grow up around mostly boys and learn to play tough. She would play football, softball, and other types of sports and excelled in 2 of them: golf (she had a 6 handicap) and shooting pool. She learned how to use a cue stick from our late father, a professional.

She did very well in school and was moved up a grade and had the street smarts to succeed in any business she chose. She began college at Auburn University of Montgomery and studied acting while there. She moved to Las Vegas to study at UNLV while working part-time as a cocktail waitress at a casino.

Our late father was friends with Hank Williams Jr and his long time manager "Merle Kilgore" (who passed away in 2005). Our father and Merle went to Vegas and Merle got to see kimber sing in a karaoke contest which she won. That's when her singing career really took off.

She moved to Nashville and began singing at the "Stockyard", owned by the late multi-millionaire publisher-producer Buddy Killen who was friends with Mike Curb of "Curb Records". He invited Mr. Curb to come to his club to listen to her perform and he soon signed her to Curb. Kimber then cut her first album and filmed a well received video single "I Know That Car" which was played numerous times on CMT.

She followed with a dance club and radio tour to prepare for its release. At the same time a new fast rising star named LeAnn Rimes released "Blue" and Curb turned all their attention to their new teenage star, neglecting Kimber. Kimber's album was put on hold, but that didn't stop her.

She quickly learned that her songs were becoming club favorites nationally and began booking dates around the United States armed with nothing but a cordless mic and prerecorded tracks, she delivered a high energy show that delighted audiences all over the U.S.

As she often said "it can all get away so fast in this business, you can't afford to waste any opportunity".

Curb Records at the time didn't approve of her flashy lipstick and showing her navel, Mike felt she should aim for a "girl-next-door" image. A short time later a huge star emerged doing the same thing for a different label that approved that approach (Shania Twain). After 4 frustrating years Kimber departed Curb and began to work with others to help get her music more exposure.

After some visiting British radio programmers heard some of her songs being played around clubs, they contacted Kimber and returned with armloads of her music for the Country Music Fans of the U.K. What proceeded was an unbelievable English fan base which became her strongest and most loving fan club. With the help of friend and industry veteran John Lomax III, along with Susan Collier, she began a European Frenzy, doing everything from singing on bar tops and chairs to jumping into the arms of her quickly gained U.K. Fans.

She often spoke about her fans and how much she loved them and the love and support she got back. She toured most of Europe and then did one show in Japan: all were overwhelmingly successful. She received numerous awards that include a very special award from Linedancer Magazine for "Dance track of the Year" in 1997 for "Jose Cuervo" which became a huge song for her and she displayed it proudly in her living room.

She received an additional award for selling 60,000 copies of the 1 line dancing album with the song"Jose Cuervo". That song was a Top-3 hit on the U.S. National danceCard chart, was chosen as "Best Independent Single by the European Country Music Association" (E.C.M.A.) and was licensed by Sony-Australia.

In 1997 she was honored by the European CMA as "Independent Female Artist of the Year" which she was overwhelmingly honored to receive. She had numerous great tracks including "If Wishes Were Horses", "Good Girls Love Bad Boys", "Wrecking Ball", "Addicted To Love" and the Merle Kilgore - June Carter song that Johnny Cash made into a global smash, "Ring of Fire". All of these appeared on her 1998 CD, GOOD GIRLS LOVE BAD BOYS, released in the U.K. By the Hil label/Curb.

Kimber is tremendously missed by her entire family and friends at this sudden and tragic passing but we have a sense of comfort in this difficult time knowing that "you" her beloved fans will continue listening to her beautiful voice and enjoying her music ...

Official Kimber Clayton Website

Kimber on MySpace

Hear Kimber-Clayton's music...