February 10, 2017
Kimaya Diggs has got heart. It's warm and welcoming, palpable and catching. She's just the kind of person you'd want around on a rainy day. Cellist, vocalist, guitarist, ukulele-ist, she's her own accompanist. Rings are her thing, as are the songs she sings; both of which she's been collecting and culling since a child. When she lets go in a song, her voice is acrobatic with with lilts and lifts. When she dances (she requested The Pointer Sisters at our photoshoot), it's with a goofy abandon. Kimaya Diggs, Be Our Valentine.
Ms. Diggs will be performing her love songs at Ode on Friday, Feb. 10th, from 6-8pm. Come join us and celebrate the love!
What sings to you?
Sunlight! There’s definitely some sunflower and some housecat in my genes, because there is nothing as life-giving to me as being in the sun.
Talk to us about Valentine’s Day.
It’s my favorite holiday--as a homeschooled youngster I never grew out of the little-kid thing where you make valentines for everyone you know. Even now I handmake valentines for my friends every year. I love getting the opportunity to tell people that I love them, and I wish there were more moments in life that facilitate the re/affirmation of love. Since there aren’t many moments like that built into our culture, I try to create or expand those spaces whenever I find one.
You’re not only a singer/musician/songwriter, but you’re also a teacher. What’s your teaching philosophy?
I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by music and my own voice grew in a beautiful, natural setting. I have many students who didn’t have that privilege and who struggle to see their voices as extensions of their emotional and powerful selves. My teaching is rooted in my belief that singing is healing, empowering, and an essential part of community-building--and that everyone can contribute, meaningfully, with their voice.
What breaks your heart? What mends it?
Racism breaks my heart, man! Growing up in the valley not thinking about how you aren’t white, moving away, growing up, learning, seeing, coming home with a president who’s pulled the curtain up on a whole culture of repressed racism that’s just been waiting for the chance to explode is like biting into a perfect mango to find it teeming with maggots inside—
but what mends it is to sing, and it’s hard—at first it comes out shaky and weak and I want to quit right there, but my breath keeps pumping, my amazing, miraculous lungs, my lips move, my tongue slopes, my head rings and resonates and I vibrate a little more love into the air.
First musical memory:
I used to accompany myself on a little drum, and I remember just wailing my heart out, feeling like I sounded just like Ella Fitzgerald, which was far from the truth.
Favorite lyric or line from a song or poem:
Every sorceress is
A pragmatist at heart; nobody sees essence who can't
Face limitation. If I wanted only to hold you
I could hold you prisoner.
— From “Circe’s Power” by Louise Gluck (from her book Meadowlands)
What makes a love song work?
I like a little melancholy. I realize more and more how lasting love is a choice, and not always an easy one. I love me a passionate new-love song, but I also like when you can tell that a love that seems whole is actually a hundred pieces taped and patched together.
What’s on your Valentine’s playlist?
What You Don’t Do - Lianne LaHavas
Love on Top - Beyonce
Aventurera - Natalia Lafourcade
Gatekeeper - Feist
Like a Star - Corinne Bailey Rae
How would you describe your style?
I wear lots of flowers, lots of “sweater-robes” (do those have a real name? long sweaters?), and I almost always have some sort of long wrap, like a pashmina or a kimono shawl, something like that. My body is shaped like a kebab skewer so I like to break up the line with flowy layers and loose silhouettes.
Favorite word to sing:
Woah--I’ve never thought about this. Maybe “farewell.”
What’s a perfect day with your Valentine?
Anything involving soup, haha. I love soup, especially in February. Other than that, giving valentines to our friends, giggling excitedly about this being our last v-day before we get married in June, and probably watching The Mindy Project.