Decades ago, Kim Addison thought she would find a career in media writing. However, a teacher’s strike pushed her away from her original school in Oakville, Ontario, and into Toronto, where she changed her field of study to music.
It was a continuation of her first foray into entertainment at the age of 17, when she went on the road with a band, singing R&B.
“My parents were very worried about the whole band thing,” Addison said. “But they met the band leader and had a long talk with him over dinner and sussed everything out. It’s funny, the first time I went on the road, every single member of the band was from a different place. The leaders were from Louisiana and Washington D.C., the drummer was from Denmark, the keyboardist was from Jamaica, and the bassist was from Trinidad. It was quite the interesting tour.”
“When I first started out, I was completely R&B rock,” Addison continued. “Never even mumbled a word of Jazz. However, when I was on the road with this band, I lost my voice. The leader of the band said it was because I was singing improperly, and suggested that I get training.”
So once the media writing vocation fell through, Addison found herself heading off to Humber College in Toronto, one of two schools where she would hone her singing (the other being the University of Toronto).
“I was one of the R&B singers at the school, but Humber was a jazz college,” Addison remembered. “Half way through the first year, I was placed in a jazz combo, and the teacher gave me a few jazz standards. I was like ‘whoa.’ My voice really suits this.”
Addison never looked back to R&B, going all in on Jazz until her late 20s. Then she had an idea that would once again change the course of her life.
“Somewhere around the age of 28, I got sick of being a starving musician and opened up a music school in Oakville,” Addison said. “It’s been 25 years now, and I’ve never looked back. My school’s been very successful with 22 teachers.”
The school is the Addison Music Learning Centre, and from there, she and her teachers can educate the next generation of musicians on plethora of styles and instruments, from piano to violin, clarinet to ukulele. Students arrive there representing all age groups.
“We’re a one stop music shop,” Addison said. “Not only that, I can run it from wherever I am in the world.”
That place in the world for the past five years has been here in Southwest Florida, and while she is committed to musical education and no longer performs regular gigs, she does look for opportunities to flex her vocal muscle.
“I hate, hate, hate winter,” Addison said. “In winter, I get all bummed out and stay in a lot. It’s just so dreary.”
For the past 20 years, though, she has found an escape. First with her parents’ timeshares on the east coast of Florida, followed by her buying a home in Fort Myers around 2010, following the downturn in the housing market.
“I come down here for four months a year,” Addison said. “I sit in with bands, because I miss it when I’m down here. I sing a little up north, but I’m like ‘oh no, I don’t get to sing anymore.’”
With the help of an administrative assistant at her school, she was able to perform most of her duties for her school remotely during the dreaded winter months, and enjoy her time in the sun.
“January, February, and March are relatively slow months at the school in terms of what I’m responsible for,” Addison said, pointing out that most of her duties are now administrative. “Everything is in place during those months with the teachers, so I can come here.” Eventually, she sold her house for a condo, in order to be closer to the beach, and it was during this time that she found her way into the local music scene.
Addison says that there are two venues down here that have welcomed her to perform: The 86 Room in downtown Fort Myers, and Sundays at the Roadhouse Café on San Carlos Boulevard.
It was at the 86 Room where she ran across the Jay Havalin-Carl Conley Project.
“Kim came into our regular gig there for a couple of shows,” Carl Conley said. “As soon as Jay and I heard her sing, we knew we wanted to feature her vocals some more, so we added here as a featured artist at our Valentine’s Day show to give more people an opportunity to see her perform.”
Addison also recalled getting a very warm reception her first time in the 86 Room.
“Those guys were so nice,” Addison recalled. “I didn’t even have to ask to sing. I just went up and said I was a singer from Toronto and they invited me to join them. It was great.”
By Trent Townsend