Kim Manning is an electrifying, red-hot performer who has been singing vocals with George Clinton and Parliament / Funkadelic / The P-Funk All Stars for ten years. She has also worked with artists including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dogg, and Sly Stone, and was “Peaches” on the first season of the reality TV show Flavor of Love. Manning just released a new album called Good People. She answered the following questions by email, with answers received on 3/12/12.
Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to at the upcoming George Clinton / Parliament / Funkadelic concert in Ventura?
Kim Manning: If you’ve never seen George then you should come, period. He’s a legend, you can only get this funk from one place and it’s here. It’s almost church; you’ll change when the groove hits you. Now, if you are already a funkateer you will be delighted in all the old Funkadelic material G has put into the set recently.
JM: I understand that you will also be the opening act for the show. What can we look forward to for that?
KM: Yep, it’s gonna be a Funky good time. I’ll be doing it as my CD Release party for my new album Good People. I’m going to have my boys Groovesession back me up and the dance troupe Diatomaceous Love will be dancing and doing aerial. It’ll be a mini rock opera, an excerpt from the full musical that I wrote called “The Recycled” that same cast will be performing in the summer.
JM: How did you get the gig touring with George Clinton?
KM: Nearly a decade ago, I met a girl who knew him, I went to the show in San Francisco at the Warfield and then down to LA for the House of Blues. George brought me on stage to dance and “baptized” me in a grand bow center stage. Later that day, Shock G, from the Digital Underground, had this jam session, I was to naïve to be intimidated so I just went and sang my ill heart out. My mom called a few days later and said “Kim, some guy named George Clinton called, I don’t know, but he seems really serious, he wants you to go to the studio”, and the rest is history.
JM: Could you describe the George Clinton that you know?
KM: G, as we call him, is amazing. I’ve never seen him mad, he’s always good with his word, in 10 years I have never had a single problem with him. He is good people! I feel like as long as you are always acting in the higher self then everything is gravy with him. Being in a 36 person band is weird but I always knew G had my back and wanted me there – so there I have stayed.
JM: What is your favorite Funkadelic / Parliament album?
My Favorite P-Funk song is “Clones of Dr. Funkenstein”.
JM: I saw you perform with George Clinton in 2008, and things seemed a bit chaotic onstage, but somehow it all worked. What is it like performing with such a big band?
KM: George loves Chaos, he says that when things are moving smoothly he will do something to purposely mess it up, keep it interesting. It keeps you in the flow, you can’t go into cruise control, you never really know what song he’s doing next, he might start a new song on top of another song, you better hope its one of the 300+ songs of his that you know and better be ready to find the harmonies in whatever key he’s singing it in, then you got to look around and see what other singers are on stage and make sure that you cover all the parts for those that are missing. It’s a vibe, a groove; it’s real music, real time!
JM: At the show that I saw, Garry Shider was still alive. What did he bring to the band, and how has it been adjusting to his absence?
KM: Wow, Uncle Garry, we miss him so much. Garry was the vocal director, George’s best friend; he was like the heart of the band. He’s a father to me, he and G fathered in the funk for me. How do you replace that, you can’t. We all sing his parts, but you can’t replace him, ever. It helps to have Garrett, his son, out playing with us. It’s funny because ever since Garry passed I hear him in my head, saying his famous “Garry’isms”, still bossing me around, so in spirit he lives on through us – the next generation of funk. Did you know that aboriginal nation in Australia sent a letter for Garry’s funeral; they said the world had lost a bright star!
JM: One might imagine that the tour bus is pretty wild and crazy. Any good stories that you’re willing to share from your time in the band?
KM: Boy oh Boy, I’m thinking about writing a book of my life and times in P-Funk, but seriously, it’s very arduous, most people don’t realize the party is on the stage, the rest of the time we are traveling and surviving. We are a family, a family that plays music and survives on the mothership.
JM: I read that you recently sang with Sly Stone. How did that come about, and what was that experience like?
KM: Well, Sly had started coming out on tour with us a couple years back. I’ll never forget the first time he started to sing “if you want me to stay” I remember he sounded exactly like the record – blew me away, I was standing there living in this famous record, singing along even – cause it was my job even – crazy. During that time I had just finished recording “I am Good People” which has a very Sly feel and George was listening to it and Sly was in the room, I was sweating bullets, what was he going to think, and then he started singing along, made up his own riff to it, whew – approval!
KM: I loved being on reality TV, I went in and was just myself, it might not have been the best move for ratings, but people all over the world saw me do Kundalini Yoga, eat vegetarian, and being nice to everyone, so I feel I did my job. I made great friends in that cast too.
JM: What are your plans, musical or otherwise, for the near future?
KM: Well, I just raised $5000 with Kickstarter to release my album, Good People. Ventura will be my CD Release. It’s Funk, Soul and Rock and Roll and features tons of members of P-Funk, and I had my hero, Victor de Lorenzo of the Violent Femmes help with the production. When I’m not on tour with P-Funk, I will be on the Kim Manning & Groovesession tour supporting Good People while at the same time prepping the Dinner theater Rock Opera show via Skype in LA, and preparing to release my third album, called “Space Queen”, it’s a Pop-funk record. Whew, and my dad thinks I’m lazy.
JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?
KM: Okay, if you really feel the calling, and you have a gift, then you don’t really have a choice do you, you have to share your gift. If it’s your destiny, you will be miserable doing anything else so surrender to it and practice, a lot, now, before you’re on tour 350 days a year. But you really have to assess if it’s your ego that wants it, like could you be poor and happy and working for 10 years away from your loved ones, playing bar after coffee shop to 50 people at a time, if so then it’s for you. Otherwise, if you want to be a musician, and you don’t pass those tests, you better have lots and lots of money to make yourself a star like Taylor Swift or Paris Hilton did. “Paris is a Porn Star” is one of my songs from “Space Queen”! She understands the power of doing what it takes to be a star, and she’s hot!