More than just household name among the St. Louis music scene, Kim Massie was proof that living the life you dreamed for yourself is possible from right where you are. Massie passed away Monday night after battling several health challenges in recent years – including thyroid cancer.
“Words cannot express what this amazing soul meant to me and my family,” cousin Wende Wilson said via Facebook. “Although we are saddened by the loss, we are rejoicing that she is turning the heavens out with that angelic voice that has blessed this world!”
Born in the Metro East, Massie lived a large portion of her life in Lorain, Ohio.
“I spent 33 years there, and when I decided to move back to St. Louis in 1999,” Massie told The St. Louis Beacon in 2013. “It was absolutely the best thing I ever did!”
The beginning of her love of music begins like many – in the Black church. She started singing gospel at nine years old. But put her passion on the back burner to carve out a life for herself and her children. In the early 1990s she discovered karaoke. In less than a decade she had become a karaoke master – which earned her countless prizes, including cash and a few cruises.
Soon after returning to St. Louis, she decided that she would earn a living with her voice. It was a bold move for a middle-aged grandmother with no professional experience, but the St. Louis entertainment industry will be forever grateful for her decision.
Massie introduced herself to the music scene by sitting in at venues such as BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups. When she crossed paths with St. Louis music legend Oliver Sain at the popular downtown spot, she asked him if she could sit in with his band during a performance. After that performance, Sain did the asking. Joining him on stage at BB’s became a regular thing.
She went on to record a song with Sain entitled “High Heel Sneakers.”
Bud Jostes saw Massie singing with Sain while in the process of scouting talent for his new venue, The Beale on Broadway.
The Beale on Broadway’s resident diva
Her name soon became synonymous with the live music spot thanks to an 18-year run. Jostes aided Massie in putting together a band, the Solid Senders. The band featured Matt Murdick and Tom Maloney.
Massie developed a cult following from her residency at The Beale on Broadway. Her fans followed her wherever the music took her. While keeping her gig at the Beale on Broadway, she pursued other offers and opportunities.
She made her way to the theater stage as member of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company’s production of “Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues” in 2003. She opened for several major national acts that came to town. Locally, she was a celebrity in her own right.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed I am,” Massie told The American back in 2004. “I get to provide for my family doing what I love and what I have been gifted to do. It’s a feeling I hope everyone gets to experience in their lives – even if it’s just for a little while.”
A favorite among St. Louis music fans
Back then she was just getting warmed up. In the past twenty years she was a guaranteed good time on stage with the nerve to cover just about any tune – from crooning Aretha Franklin to rapping the bridge on Montel Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.” But Massie’s true legacy will be how she inspired others and committed herself to providing an unfiltered exchange of joy with every performance. Twilight Tuesdays, Blues At The Arch, LouFest she was a sure thing crowd pleaser whenever and wherever she was called to the microphone.
She received several awards – including being named a 2005 Visionary Awards honoree. Her appearances are too many to name. She recorded several CDs, the first being 2001’s “A Diva’s Survival Guide.”
When The Beale at Broadway closed last year, she was the final act to grace the stage.
“The Beale was where I developed the stamina; it was where I honed the craft,” Massie told St. Louis Magazine in 2019. “I had a place. I had a home. It was technically a blues bar, but after Bud saw what I could do, he allowed me to do whatever—blues, jazz, rock and roll, country western, R&B.”
The freedom to cross genres came in handy, as she often covered songs and was presented to audiences outside the traditional Blues and R&B scene. Her fan base was as wide-ranging as her set list. The entire music scene – from hip-hop and soul to country and the blues have are expressing their condolences and speaking on what an inspiration she was to the scene – on both sides of the stage.
Singer Justin Hoskin shared a touching tribute of the impact Massie had on him as a performer.
“One night I was so nervous at a show, unsure of the crowd and what they wanted. I was on a bill with some heavy hitters, and I wanted to make a good impression,” Hoskin said. “In walks Ms. Massie, and says, ‘You singing tonight?’”
She told him she was going to get a seat because she was expecting to hear some “good singing.”
“I knew who she was, but I had no idea she had ever heard of me,” Hoskin said. She gave me a standing ovation herself. I don’t need a nod from nobody, I got a co-sign from Kim Massie!”
Her influence reached beyond the circle of music.
“A St. Louis icon has passed away,” said St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.
Through her non-conventional path, she wanted to give license for others to live out loud.
“I hope when my grandbabies – and everybody else – see me on stage, they know that they can go wherever their gifts lead them,” Massie said.