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“The People’s Flautist” finds her groove

Mills College Weekly

Though flautist Kymberly Jackson has performed with leading funk
and jazz musicians like Stevie Wonder, she has recently gone solo.
She was let loose on the East Bay on Thursday night, with her
performance at the legendary Kimball’s East.

The show featured Jackson displaying her talents as a vocalist,
composer and flautist. She played two singles from her upcoming
album. “Seaside” and “Day Walking” are two energetic jazz
compositions that displayed Jackson’s extensive knowledge of the

Jackson played an array of songs, including a cover of Stevie
Wonder’s “Do I Do,” with her four piece jazz ensemble, known as
Urban Legends. She ended her musical repertoire with “Fantasy” by
Earth, Wind and Fire.

“I’m hungry,” said Jackson at the end of the show. “I feel good.
It’s wonderful to be able to express myself in this venue. I feel
blessed to be able to do this.”

Jackson started playing the flute at the age of 12, which means
she’s been a flautist for “some years now.” Jackson’s reluctance to
divulge her age leaves the exact maturity of her musicianship a

She was born “back in the day” in Los Angeles where she was
first introduced to the clarinet at the ripe age of five and then
moved on to the drums.

“By the time I went to junior high I wanted to continue playing
the drums,” said Jackson. “But unfortunately I couldn’t roll. The
band teacher couldn’t use a drummer that couldn’t roll on

Her sights were then set on the flute section, where Jackson
decided to challenge the first chair and proceeded to replace her
in the band.

After graduating from Fairfax High School, Jackson attended Cal
State Northridge for a semester before dropping out.

“I really blew it,” says Jackson. “I didn’t understand the
opportunity I had. I wanted to be a professional musician, and I
thought I already was a professional musician.”

Jackson is now working on finishing her Masters degree in music
and spends a significant amount of time in the recording studio
finishing her album.

“I’m writing, playing and singing,” she said.

The pursuit of music has led Jackson on a fortunate path, where
she has had the opportunity play with some of the most talented
musicians in the industry, including Stevie Wonder, El Debarge and
Dwayne Wiggins. She has worked with more contemporary hip-hop
artists like The Coup and Zion I. The versatility in Jackson’s
style has allowed her to try different styles and genres including
funk, jazz, hip-hop, R&B and Latin jazz.

“My degree is in classical flute and I use it in my style,” said
Jackson. “But the style of music I’m really working on is a mixture
of jazz, funk and R&B. One of my pieces can be jazz standard,
or it can be a jazz standard flipped around with a funky

Jackson’s style and her principle influence is jazz and R&B
from the 60s, 70s and early 80s, and by artists such as Cameo and
Earth, Wind and Fire.

“The sound I really identify with most is Earth, Wind and Fire,
because they were a fusion of jazz, funk and R&B,” says
Jackson. “You have the costumes, excellent musicianship, impeccable
vocals and improv jazz.”