Kelly Cutrone expressed how important it is to fake it to make it in her book, ‘If You Have to Cry, Go Outside.’ Sometimes opportunities arise where you may not feel equipped, but you must say yes if you want to get to the next level. Here’s where Creative Director extraordinaire Kim Burse comes in.
Beginning her musical journey at church, Kim Burse has always wanted music to be a part of her life in some capacity. And her time preparing and coordinating performances at her hometown church would be an essential key in the path she’s currently walking in. Kim Burse began her career in the music industry at Sony Music and Columbia Records as an A&R director and music executive. At Columbia, she discovered Destiny’s Child, helping the Houston girl group land a record contract with the label. Several years later, Destiny’s stars aligned when Mathew Knowles, the group’s manager at the time and Beyoncé’s father, reached out to Burse asking, “do you know how to put on a show?” Burse had no previous experience with being a creative director or putting together performances for recording artists like Destiny’s Child but knew she could draw from her previous experiences. “I just told him ‘yeah,’ because from growing up in church with the choirs, we’d have things like concerts where we’d have to coordinate wardrobes, what songs we’d be singing,” Burse remembers. “It’s kind of like the same format in my mind.”
Without hesitation, she agreed. Little did she know, this would be a pivotal moment and one giant leap of faith in her career. The performance would be the 2001 Grammy Awards. “Anything I didn’t know I would write it out and then I would research it or just continue to use a certain type of lingo when I was talking to anybody else from show production,” she reflects. And from that moment, Burse career changed.
Burse went on to curating performances for tours (Beyonce’s “I Am…Yours: An Intimate Performance at the Wynn Las Vegas to Jennifer Lopez’s Vegas residency “Jennifer Lopez: All I Have.”), award show performances, and working with artists like Monica, Solange, Ciara, Jamie Foxx, Amerie, and Nelly just to name a few.
When BET was in its early stages of creating the annual award show, Black Girls Rock!, they reached out to Kim to be the driving force behind the music direction. “They had known the work that I had done with helping Beyoncé pick her all-girl band, so they came to consult with me and asked, ‘can you get Beyoncé’s band or put together a band?’” Burse recalls of BET’s first request.
Even with the stellar roster Burse had, the producers of the award show were still skeptical of her abilities. One of the producers went to Kim and asked, “‘Kim, are you going to play?’ and I said, ‘I can if you want me to.’” She cued the band and played a few songs for the producers. “Because everybody is used to me being a creative person, they understood that they were talking to me about music because I do the musical arrangements,” Kim stated. “But no one had ever seen me play much less hit an A flat or whatever…they kind of had some uncertainty.” The band showed out and the producers knew that not only could Kim walk the walk but she and the band were going to put together a great show.
Since the first production of the award show back in 2006, where they honor and promote Black Women who are succeeding and excelling in several different fields including, music, entertainment, medicine, entrepreneurship, and visionary, Kim has been the creative director for the telecast. “To be in a room with that many Black and powerful, as they say, ‘Black girl magic,’ situations in front of you, the energy, I can never describe nor has it been comparable to anything I’ve been involved in,” Burse expressed. “It’s humbling and surreal to play music when Michelle Obama walks on stage or Tracee Ellis Ross when she hosted.”
Though she has had quite the impressive resume of working with Grammy winners and creating memorable performances, Black Girls Rock! put Burse in the forefront. “It’s the only award show that I was able to come from behind the camera and finally create my own legacy as a Black musician and leader,” she said. “Where people could see me and identify me for the first time. I’m very grateful they allowed me to have the avenue.”
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13 years in… the shows and performances are too many to count… that one bday party in Vegas 👍🏽😁and just you being more than just an amazing star I work with to someone who has become my friend 😌🙌🏽❤️Happy Bday @ciara!!! And once again so glad I was able to spend the day with you and getting the chance to see you make the whole world LEVEL UP!! #AMAs2018 #Ellen #24ktworldtour I am forever humbled to be a part of your musical journey and life. To witness the love of your husband and all that were with you yesterday celebrating YOU!! I felt blessed to just be in the room❤️Don’t ever change!! Forever HUGS to you!!!#BIRTHDAYGIRL 🎂🎁🎉🎈
If we learned anything from Burse’s career, it is that you must be willing to say YES to any challenge that comes your way. When asked if she has any advice for young creatives she simply stated, “you have to have the determination and see beyond what you could have imagined even to the point where your parents can’t see it,” which Kim can relate to.
When she was just 6, she presented a project to her class where she announced she desired to be a comedian as a career. When her mother heard of her aspiration she simply said, “a comedian? You know what’s some funny sh*t, your room. Now go and clean your room.” Kim was devasted that her mom didn’t understand her aspiration to make people laugh. Despite not gaining her mother’s wishes, Kim went on to pursue being a comedian for three years and right before she decided to end her side hustle, her mother attended her last show. Burse shared the stage with legendary comedian David Allen Grier at the Funny Bone in Buckhead, Georgia. After her set, her mother was in tears being taken away by her talents and simply said, “I’m sorry.” She apologized for not believing in the fact her daughter could perform sets that made audiences laugh because it was an occupation she simply didn’t believe was lucrative. Her mom was so impressed by her performance she gave her an affirmation we all can apply in our lives: “You can do whatever you want to do, just do it.” Whether it was making people laugh, putting a show together for Destiny’s Child, or signing the next big thing, you just have to do it.
And if you find yourself in a major setback along the way, don’t lose sight of your dream, as Burse shares she’s had many setbacks throughout her career, but what kept her focus was prayer. “Between ’93 and ’99, I slightly got out of the industry,”
Be prepared to say “yes” to whatever comes your way because it may lead to the impossible. It led Kim Burse to
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If this is what 51 looks like I WILL TAKE IT!! Thank you Lord for one more year!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEE!! You’ve been so good to me. This time last year I had just gotten home from the hospital and could barely walk OHHH BUT LOOK AT GOD!! No.. for real look at HIM!! 😄 Thank you everyone for all of your Bday wishes! You all keep me striving for my dreams and making sure I stay a BLACK GIRL THAT ROCKS!!! Kareoke tonight @The Good Nite on Burbank Blvd! BAAM!! See you there!! #livingmybestlife #swipeleft 😜