Kim DeCell and Sharon Levenson met in 2007 when Sharon started working as an RN at a psychiatric hospital in Vermont. Kim had been working there for years as a mental health worker, and had a habit of bringing his guitar to work to strum and sing for the patients. His amazing talent and unique vocals caught Sharon’s attention, as did the healing effect his music had on the patients. One patient shared, “the best I ever feel is when Kim is playing his guitar and singing.” As Kim and Sharon got to know each other and Kim discovered that Sharon loved music, he began to bring her CDs of original songs recorded in his home studio almost daily. She would find the CDs at the nurses’ station, lodged in the mirror of her car in the parking lot, or even on her windshield downtown! She was impressed with Kim’s ability to craft beautiful melodies with heartfelt lyrics by sitting down in front of his recorder and pressing “Record” as he reflected on subject matter such as lost loves, chance meetings with exes in bars, time spent in prison. It was one of these recordings, “Why Don’t You Stop By,” that changed everything for them…..Sharon played this original song for her brother Mark, who said “Wow, that guy is great. He reminds me of Townes Van Zandt.” Subsequently Sharon shared this sentiment with Kim and they began to listen to the Van Zandt catalogue. Shortly thereafter they started experimenting with “No Lonesome Tune” with Kim on guitar and vocals and Sharon on mandolin and backing vocals. They employed Kim’s signature “Press Record” and were stunned by the resulting unique, haunting arrangement. They sent a copy to Live 365 Radio and were immediately added to the play list of “Dave’s Indie Music Hall” which received the highest rating of any song in the history of the show! WEFT in Champaign, IL also added it to the play list. Energized by this sudden turn of attention and recognition, the duo composed “Letting Go By Hanging On”, an emotional tribute to a friend who had died, which also received immediate radio play on both of these stations.
Since then the duo has been performing in New England, New York, and New Orleans, and has had a weekly residency at a club in their home state of Vermont. They’ve also shared the stage with popular acts the Lonesome Brothers, Andrew Jones & Spirithouse, Rocky Roberts & Friends, Chip Wilson, Andre Bouvier in New Orleans, and were chosen to perform at the “Zevonathon” in New York City. They recently were invited to open for New Orleans’ favorites The Stooges as well as Terence Simeon! Audience response to their live shows has been tremendous so Kim & Sharon are now performing as much as possible, as a duo, or a 5 or 6 person band; “The Kim & Sharon Allstar Band.” The “Allstars” are Ray Saunders on drums, Mike Slahetka on lead guitar, Smilin’ Steve on bass, Rocky Roberts on lap steel, and Mark Levenson on vocals.
Kim’s one-of-a-kind voice has become one of the main attractions of this collaboration. Andrew Jones said “Where did he come from? His voice is so resolute. I can feel the agony.” The emotion emitted from the vocals, guitar and mandolin, in combination with their brilliant original lyrics, is palpable. Their powerful performances always leave the audiences demanding more, and their weekly residency, though slated to end at 10 p.m. usually ends well after midnight!
Kim & Sharon are rapidly becoming festival favorites! They performed at a benefit gig in New Orleans during Jazz Fest 2011, which they organized in support of New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, and were joined by Nashville songwriter Bud Tower on bass. The duo also opened the downtown portion of Roots On The River Festival 2011 in Bellows Falls, VT. They produced and performed at “Flood Fest” benefit concert in Wilmington, VT, which raised $4000 for the victims of Hurricane Irene, and featured special guest Chip Wilson from New Orleans. Additional festival appearances include Furay’s Folk Festival, Cape May Songwriter Festival, Readsboro Arts Festival, Make Music Harvard Square, Cambridge Music Festival, Music in the Hills, Blue Hawaiian Fest, and Vermont Music Festival.
This duo won Creative Spirit Awards for two original songs, “For Every Lover” and “Letting Go By Hanging On.” The feedback they received from the judges was “You two should be in Nashville.” “Letting Go By Hanging On” was awarded placement as Semi-Finalist in the Song of the Year contest. Another song, “Hey I Bought a Massey-Ferguson” just received honorable mention in the East Coast Songwriting Contest, and “You Should Have Stayed Here Longer” was named as runner up in Gary Allen’s Songwriter Contest.
Rocky Roberts, well known as Neil Young’s guitar tech for over twenty years, who is now touring in support of My Morning Jacket, said of their original works, “This is the coolest sound I’ve ever heard. It’s Appalachian and funky!”
Kim & Sharon continue to write songs and just finished recording a full length record at Spirithouse Studios in Northampton, MA! They are honored to have guest musicians, Brian Nevin, Rocky Roberts, Jim Armenti, Ray Mason, Ray Saunders, Mike Slahetka and Mark Levenson on the CD, as well as to have Danny Bernini mixing and mastering. Stayed tuned after the first of the year for the CD release!