Last year, Mzz Kimberley received five-star reviews for her show A Tranny Is Born. This year she’s back with A Tranny On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. What must have happened? Pete Shaw quizzed Mzz Kimberley about the show and the profile of transgender artists at the Fringe.
My main point is to show that transgender people can live productive lives and experience the same good and bad that life offers as anyone else.
Tell us about your Edinburgh show.
“This year my show is called A Tranny On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, a fun show with educational bits about transgender life. My main point is to show that transgender people can live productive lives and experience the same good and bad that life offers as anyone else. And I sing jazz, blues, gospel, showtunes and soul from my home town of Detroit Michigan.
“The word tranny being used in my title and in my signature song has caused much controversy. My reason for using this word is because I’m claiming it back and letting the general public know that I will not be hurt by this word. I respect the many trans people’s opinions who do not use this word, but I can call myself whatever I want.”
Transgender artists have a pretty low profile - will Edinburgh help you change that?
“I do hope so. There are many great performers out there with powerful work. Life is changing and there is more understanding and appreciation. Hopefully the public will learn to look more at the performance.”
You appeared on Britain’s Got Talent before La Voix starting stealing the limelight - how was that for you?
“Performing on BGT was hilarious, I’m still laughing, LOL. And as far as stealing the limelight, never! There’s room for all of us!”
I hear you're crowdfunding for your Edinburgh show - how is that going, and where can people donate?
“OMG my crowdfunding went off with a good start. However, money still needs to be raised. Please, please support me!”
You give great diva as part of your performances. If you could invite four of the biggest legends around for cocktails (dead or alive), who would they be and why?
“I give great diva as part of my performance? LOL That’s funny. I don’t look at myself as a diva, yet, but thank you.
“My five divas would be Josephine Baker, the first black superstar who beat the odds during a time that was impossible for minorities to achieve. Her style and elegance was one to be desired even today. I would give anything to have her stage presence and wardrobe.
“Next would be Sarah Vaughan, my all time favourite jazz singer who is considered one world’s best ever. The National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon her its ‘highest honour in jazz’, the NEA Jazz Masters Award, in 1989. One day I hope to duet with her, as a hologram of course.
“There would have to be Mahalia Jackson. I’m not a religious person but I adore gospel music. Miss Jackson had a powerful contralto voice; she was referred to as ‘The Queen of Gospel’. She became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist. Every soul singer from Gladys Knight to Beyonce look up to Mahalia Jackson.
“Leontyne Price. I absolutely enjoy opera music. I first learned to sing classical music in grade school and plan to introduce a Puccini into my show in the very near future. Price rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was one the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera. She is by far a proper diva that scares me, LOL.
“And finally, Mina, one of the most successful Italian singers of all time. She was a staple of Italian television variety shows and a dominant figure in Italian pop music from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, known for her three-octave vocal range. Most of the time I have no idea what she’s singing about but I can feel her pain and pleasure. I plan to also sing one of her most famous songs, Parole Parole.”
You can help Mzz Kimberley crowdfund her Edinburgh show on her website: www.mzzkim.com