Though she is comparatively new to the gospel music industry, having only performed since 1989, she has quickly become one of the most influential voices in the genre, often said to be "this generation's Ella Fitzgerald".
In 2010, she founded The Love & Liberty Fellowship Pentecostal Overcoming Holy Church, where she serves as Senior Eldress/Overseer-Bishop.
Though Burrell battled double pneumonia for eight years as a child, she performed her first solo with the church choir at the age of only one year old singing Andraé Crouch's "Hallelujah Praise".
She is the daughter of a pastor in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Burrell began her gospel career proper performing with Reverend James Cleveland's GMWA Youth Mass Choir (also known as Rev. James Cleveland's Kids), Trinity Temple Full Gospel Mass Choir of Dallas and The Inspirational Sounds Mass Choir of Houston.
In 1996, she appeared on Ricky Dillard & New G's "Worked It Out" album, as the feature on the reprise of "Jesus Paid It All", which is credited as the turning point of her national career.
Her first independent album, Try Me Again, was released on the Texas-based boutique label Pearl Records in 1995. Though limited distribution kept the album from nationwide recognition, it did build a strong reputation that led to her being signed to Tommy Boy Gospel and the now-classic Everlasting Life, produced by Asaph Alexander Ward. The album performed well and peaked at #12 on the Billboard Gospel Charts.
Quickly becoming known as a virtuoso vocalist and pianist, it seemed only logical to produce a live album, which Burrell recorded in November 2000 at the annual COGIC Convention in Memphis, Tennessee. Though the recording of the concert was widely said to be troubled, requiring notably some overdubs and post-production, the resulting Live In Concert album released in 2001 satisfied eager fans and earned Burrell a Grammy nomination for Best Soul Gospel Album in 2002.
Though her then-label Tommy Boy Gospel closed shortly after the release of Live In Concert, by 2002, she had already signed a recording contract with Elektra Recordsn who had newly considerable success in the gospel market with signing Yolanda Adams and Karen Clark Sheard.
Unfortunately, this contract yielded only a guest appearance on the all-star gospel track Missy Elliott-produced "Higher Ground" which first appeared as a bonus track on Missy's album Miss E... So Addictive, but was later featured on Karen Clark Sheard's 2nd Chance album.
Since that time, Burrell has become a wife and mother to a son by the name of Christian. She has continued to perform live and to collaborate with other artists. Though only intermittently active as a recording artist, Burrell has established and hosts the Ephesians 4 conference annually to show up-and-coming singers, dancers and other artists how to improve the quality of their craft.
At the close of a gospel industry retreat hosted by Dr. Bobby Jones, a local woman named Kathleen Goodin had stopped breathing, prompting a call for paramedics, as well as a call for prayer. While CPR procedures were underway, Burrell initiated a healing prayer.
After escorting Goodin out on a stretcher, those remaining were informed that the woman had died. Adamant about praying with the woman again, Burrell followed the ambulance to the hospital. When she finally convinced medical staff to allow her to pray with the woman a second time, reportedly Burrell prayed "Kathleen Goodin, take off your grave clothes." By the time Burrell left the hospital, the woman was miraculously breathing on her own.
The article's reporter later exclaimed, "if I ever get sick, somebody call Kim Burrell!"
Burrell was featured in a half-hour MTV special From The Church To The Charts in conjunction with the gospel themed motion picture Fighting Temptations.
Among those who count Burrell as an influence are such contemporaries as Jessica Simpson,Beyoncé Knowles and Faith Evans.
In 2004, Burrell made an unlikely guest turn along with Kelly Price on R. Kelly's "3-Way Phone Call" playing the part of Price's "prayer partner" in the soap-opera-like song.
There are many instances of established artists who laud Burrell:The Late Queen of Gospel Dr. Albertina Walker would often encourage Kim by telling her that she'd go far with her vocal talent and to always keep a hymn in her repertoire.
Chaka Khan deemed Kim Burrell "one of the most interesting voices I've heard in a long while".
After expressing an interest in gospel music, pop singer Nelly Furtado purchased Burrell's Everlasting Life on recommendation from Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams.
In a recent interview on XM Satellite Radio, Harry Connick, Jr. said of Burrell, "if she's not the greatest musical mind I've ever been around, she's certainly up at the top of the list." Burrell appears on Connick, Jr.'s 2008 album, What a Night! A Christmas Album.
Kim Burrell's musical impact is widespread: she has released two new recordings (2009's No Ways Tired and 2011's The Love Album) since 2001's Live In Concert and nearly a decade has passed since her 1998 national debut Everlasting Life.
Details of new recordings have periodically surfaced, some of which are listed below: In 2001, shortly after the release of Live In Concert, Kim Burrell was said to be working with Stevie Wonder, Deitrick Haddon, Chaka Khan, and Eric Dawkins on a new studio album.
The long-awaited gospel compilation from Bad Boy Entertainment was slated to release May 8, 2001 featuring Kim Burrell, John P. Kee, Mary Mary, Hezekiah Walker, Fred Hammond, and Vickie Winans among other performers. To date, the project has still not been released and is rumored shelved indefinitely.
Burrell collaborated with Tonéx in 2004 on some recordings for a new album.
Since August 2006, according to Sony Gospel president Tara Griggs-McGee, the anticipated new studio album from Kim Burrell has been turned to plans for a live recording, though no date has been set.
The live album may include several studio tracks already recorded.
However, since the time of that article, Sony Gospel has been merged into Columbia Records and Griggs-McGee is no longer with either label.
An interview revealed that Burrell is planning a live recording at the Lincoln Jazz Center in New York City on December 11 and 13, 2008.
Burrell also revealed on April 26, 2009, on K.I.N.G.(Kingdom Inspiration for a Now Generation) Talk Radio that she is planning a second 2009 album release: "...who knows...actually I plan to put out another album before the year is out..."-Kim Burrell.
Burrell released her first studio album in 11 years, entitled No Ways Tired on April 7, 2009 through Shanachie Records.
The album will feature covers of classic gospel songs like "My Faith Looks Up To Thee", "What A Friend We Have In Jesus", "O Lamb Of God" and "I Surrender All", as well as the classic James Cleveland song after which the album is named.
On May 17, 2011, her highly anticipated The Love Album was released on Shanachie Records. In its first week after being releasted, it was #5 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart, #166 on the Billboard 200 chart, and was the #2 most downloaded Gospel album on iTunes.
The Love Album was widely acclaimed for the vocal ingenuity displayed by Ms. Burrell and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album and two Stellar Awards for Contemporary Female of the Year and Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year, the latter of which she won.
The lead single "Sweeter" also won the 2012 Dove Award for Urban Recorded Song of the Year.
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