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Person of the Week
Kristy Debuts ‘Hard Times’ COVID-19 Heroes Tribute
Guilford native Kimber Kristy has debuted her original song, “Hard Times” released as a music video on YouTube. The video stars dozens of photos of healthcare workers, first responders, essential job workers, and other local heroes, mixed in with hometown signs of support. It includes workers in New Haven county and “Thank You” signs posted around Guilford. (Photo courtesy of Kimber Kristy)
What do you do if you’re a singer/songwriter in the time of COVID-19? Guilford native and Los Angeles-based musician Kimber Kristy’s response is sharing her original song, “Hard Times,” as a tribute to COVID-19 heroes.
“Hard Times” was released as a music video on YouTube last week. Supported by Kimber’s rich, emotive singing voice and soulful lyrics, the video stars dozens of photos of healthcare workers, first responders, essential job workers, and other local heroes, mixed in with hometown signs of support.
Kimber gathered the photos from friends, and friends of friends, from 14 states in the U.S., including Connecticut workers in New Haven county. The video also includes several “Thank You” signs posted around Guilford.
Kimber says she wrote “Hard Times” well before the world was talking about COVID-19, but found it a perfect fit to thank those facing the virus on the frontlines.
“I knew a lot of people that were working in health care and essential jobs,” says Kimber. “And I realized that the song really fit with what they were doing, and what everyone was going through. So I wanted to find someway to thank those people, and all the people that I knew were going through so much.”
Kimber reached out for photos from family and friends on the East Coast, from those she’d met along the way as a member of the Choate Rosemary Hall Class of 2014; friends of her college alma mater, Berklee School of Music in Boston; and in Los Angeles, where she’s lived and worked in the music industry since 2018.
Her initial request mushroomed into new territories as people picked up on the idea.
“I asked them if they could send me photos to make a tribute video, and then I asked them to also send photos of people they knew who they felt should be recognized in the video, as well,” she says.
In addition to asking for photos of heroes, Kimber also put out a call for pictures of signs of support.
“I asked them if they had any signs they felt were inspirational,” she says. “I knew that people were putting up signs across cities everywhere.”
Her “Hard Times” YouTube music video now captures forever in time the faces of many essential frontline workers who might have otherwise gone unsung. The insider’s look at the daily effort on display ranges from a gathering of Yale New Haven Healthcare staff to selfies taken by medical workers in personal protective equipment. It’s also a time capsule of supportive signs which went up around the country, from chalk messages on a city sidewalk to lawn signs in Orlando, Florida and hand-made hearts and notes of thanks posted in Guilford.
The video features signs in Guilford business windows at Arthur Murray Dance Center, Evergreen Fine Crafts, Ashley’s Ice Cream, and Wendy’s as well as a white flag flying a red heart outside the Goodwill Donation Center, and heart-shaped “Thank You” signs staked in the grass of the Guilford Green and outside Guilford’s Emergency Services police/fire stations.
“I was just blown away by Guilford’s signs, and the amount of signs. It’s kind of what I love about Guilford and the community,” says Kimber.
Kimber grew up in Guilford, attending Calvin Leete Elementary School and Baldwin Middle School. She still comes back to Guilford often to visit family, including her mom, Linda Godleski, who lives in town.
Putting the Pieces Together
Kimber put all the pieces together to create her tribute video during L.A.’s COVID-19 lockdown, which started March 16 and runs through at least May 15. She says it took about two weeks to gather and arrange the photo montage.
“That was one of the touching things, seeing it all come together and putting all of their photos in line,” she says.
And, while she didn’t plan it this way, the pandemic will forever be a touchstone for her musical career. The global crisis caused Kimber to decide to release, for the first time, one of her original songs from her growing catalogue of music.
“This is sort of my debut,” says Kimber, who has already shared some unreleased demos and a number of cover songs at her website, www.kimberkristy.com.
“Up until the coronavirus started, I’d be been working on my own music, and this whole year, I’ve been planning on singles coming next. This wasn’t meant to be the first one, but it turned out to be the first one,” she says.
Kimber’s original lyrics for “Hard Times” include the refrain, “Put the weight that’s on your shoulders onto mine I’ll carry you out of the hard times.” She sings the ballad to a guitar accompaniment.
While she misses her friends and family back home, Kimber feels she’s found her niche living and working in L.A. She arrived in 2018 as one of the first of five to be selected for Berklee’s elite Wachter Fellow internship program for experiential learning in L.A. The program’s mentorship and funding was provided by Paul Wachter, a financial advisor whose celebrity clients include Bono, LeBron James, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“He really helped us,” says Kimber, who interned for a year at different posts. “We would meet with him for advice and mentoring through the internship process.”
Her internship with the GRAMMY Museum helped Kimber land her current job in the Recording Academy at the GRAMMY Museum/L.A. LIVE. Working in public programs and artist relations, Kimber notes her work involves “facilitating intimate concerts and conversations with artists such as Billie Eilish, Andrea Bocelli, the Jonas Brothers, and Lenny Kravitz.”
For Kimber, working in the music industry, as she works to make her own way as an artist, has been inspiring, but debuting “Hard Times” as a tribute video to COVID-19 heroes has been her honor. At press time, the video had nearly 1,400 views since it was first posted on April 29.
“I’m so blown away—I was not expecting that,” says Kimber. “I’ve been encouraging people to share this video as a way to thank others. We’re really trying to spread the word to thank as many people as we can and show them our gratitude.”