For years, Kimberly Rossi has been pointing me toward stories that have turned out to be good. I'd get a message or a phone call, pleasantly worded and toned. When a CD from Syracuse blues band The Fabulous Ripcords turned up hand-dropped in my Eastwood mailbox as promised, it came with her calling card: Indigo Productions.
Fine album from Irv Lyons, and he and his fellow First Nation band mates went on to gain recognition at the Native American Music Awards, too. Later, a story idea for my markbialczak.com blog wasn't about music, but rather alerted me of the good work done by Dr. Joan Laura, who on Veterans Day would devote her Eastwood practice to free dental care for those who'd served our country. I didn't go when Rossi invited me to a media get-together to meet Jessica Lahr, Mrs. New York State, but I took notice later when one of Lahr's appearances raised recognition for the services provided abused women by Syracuse's Vera House.
Something clicked in the back of my brain. Not only does Rossi push good stories, she represents good people.
At the Syracuse Area Music Awards, Grupo Pagan was on stage at The Palace Theater for its performance set when leader Edgar Pagan called a group of Central New York singers to form a big and happy accompanying chorus. And he introduced Rossi as one of them. What's that about, was the back-of-my brain thought this time around, wondering if it was because Grupo Pagan was under her Indigo Productions umbrella.
Time to ask about Kimberly Rossi and take notes.
"Those are the kinds of things I'm excited about," Rossi said -- once she'd gotten used to the idea that this time around she was the focus, not somebody or some issue she was representing. So, yes, it's not a coincidence that she aligns herself with good people who fight the good fight.
And it's been an interesting ride to get to this battle.
Rossi grew up here, but left soon after graduating from Liverpool High School. First she attended St. Michael's in Vermont, loving the great outdoors, but then transferred to CUNY-Hunter in New York City because she wanted to be a music major. And she was, from 1993 to 1996. "My highlight was to perform 'The Requiem' in Bryant Park," Rossi says.
After that, she traveled for five months, visiting 30 National Parks. She ended up living in Santa Cruz, Calif., an area that she fell in love with for its beauty. She became a pharmaceutical rep, married, moved to San Clemente. Then 9/11 happened, and they moved back east, to Rye, N.Y., to be near her ex-husband's family. "My ex-father-in-law was a deputy battalion chief, and a lot of people who died had been his best friends," she said. "That made family important. To be near family. To start a family." She had four children, three girls and a boy.
She served on the board of the Rye Nature Center to work with their children's programs.
After five expensive years in Westchester, she said, they moved to Skaneateles in 2011, where they were lucky enough to be able to rent the historic John D. Barrow homestead. She started taking guitar lessons, rekindling that love for music. She started going out to hear different people play at different places around Central New York, "and friends said to me, do you want to start booking gigs? Next thing you know, I'm booking gigs all over the place."
Indigo Productions was born. It's been at most a labor of love, Rossi says, just herself representing the Fabulous Ripcords, Grupo Pagan Lite and Dave Porter.
"I work from my heart, not my pocket book," she says. In the past she has worked with such artists as Pale Green Stars, Medicine Wheel, Greg Hoover and Fat Peace.
"My musical journey is to fulfill the heart and soul, and to help launch others on their journey as well," she says.
"To be successful, I taught myself how to build websites. I met reporters and radio hosts to help my artists. I learned what was involved, the ins and outs, working with venue owners and people," she says. "I'm 100 percent self-taught."
Thinking more, she laughs. "Well, that's not true. Friends have given me guidance, too," she says.
Yes, it is personal.
"Especially on my PR side, there are a lot of jobs I turn away. I'm not going to do something to just get a paycheck. It has to be something I believe in," she says.
She pointed out CNY Jazz, where she works promotion that one day a week, and Masterworks Chorale, where she's served on the board. Both have educational and community programs she believes in strongly.
And then there's her full-time job, which will kick back into high gear with the warming of the season. She's the office manager at Lakeview Nursery, a 150-acre tree farm. That feeds the side of her soul that yearns to be outside, she says, by the water, hiking, kayaking.
Being busy, working hard, is second nature. Rossi recalls that she was a latch-key kid in a single-parent family growing up in Liverpool, her mother, who was born in Latvia always working, as her grandparents, who came to this country as farmers, worked, too, her grandfather at Syracuse China and her grandmother at Crouse-Irving.
"Because of the way my mother grew up, the fact that I had a roof over my head and meals to eat every day, I felt I was fine," Rossi says.
Her children are well cared for and happy as they see plenty of both her and their father, she says.
Which gives her the confidence to now attack this vocal music bug she left behind 19 years ago.
"What musician doesn't want their song to hit big?" she says.
Here's the link for her Dreamy Harper Reverb Nation page, where you can hear her completed songs.