Song for Joni

Kim Richey discusses past, future and her 4/22 show at Gilly’s

By Tim Walker

Kim Richey seems relaxed and happy as she enjoys a warm spring day at her home in Nashville, a city she’s called home off and on since 1988. The talented musician spoke with Dayton City Paper recently from there as she prepared for upcoming weekend shows in St. Louis and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“Like a lot of women singers, I caught the songwriting bug after discovering Joni Mitchell when I was young,” the Ohio native said. “I thought her songs were just brilliant.”

“Brilliant” is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days when discussing singers and songwriters, but it certainly applies here—not just to Joni Mitchell, but to Richey herself. Kim Richey knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the subject of singing and writing great songs; she has released eight albums filled with her own compositions, she’s a two-time Grammy Award-winner and she has written and cowritten dozens of songs for other artists, many of which have been hits on both the country and pop charts. Songs you may be familiar with (but which you may not have known Richey had a hand in writing) include “Nobody Wins,” a 1992 hit for Radney Foster, “Believe Me Baby (I Lied),” a 1995 hit for Trisha Yearwood, “You’ll Never Know” recorded by the late Mindy McCready and “Every River” for superstar country duo Brooks & Dunn.

Richey, who will be performing live at Gilly’s in downtown Dayton on Friday, April 22nd, began playing her musical idol’s songs at a young age, and her career has progressed from there.

“I knew some of Joni Mitchell’s songs,” she says. “I was playing in a band back when I was in high school—I was a senior at Fairmont East in Kettering,” she continues, laughing at the memory. “And, as kind of a joke almost—there were three of us, me and two guys—we went over to a place called Steak and Ale in Centerville. I think it’s a Chinese restaurant or something now. So we learned three songs and we went to try out, because a friend of ours had said they were hiring bands for their lounge. We learned these three songs, and we got there and said ‘What do you want us to do?’ And the guy said ‘Play me three songs.’ And we were like ‘Okay, we’ve got three.’ So we played our songs, and the guy said ‘Okay, you got the gig.’”

Still laughing, Richey continues. “So then we were like, ‘We only know three songs. We don’t have any stuff.’ So we had a couple of weeks to learn every song we could think of, and that was the first professional thing I did.”

Richey released her first album, Kim Richey, in 1995 and The Collection, a 2004 release, was a compilation of Richey’s favorite songs from her first four albums. Her eighth and most recent album release is 2013’s Thorn in My Heart from Yep Roc Records, and much of her time since then has been taken up by touring.

“My last album, Thorn in My Heart, did really good for us,” she says. “It came out in 2013 and it got a lot of good press, and it was on a lot of people’s lists at the end of the year. I’ve been out touring a lot since, so that doesn’t leave a lot of time for songwriting and recording. That’s why I’ve been trying to stay home this winter and do some songwriting and start out making another record.”

When asked whether she prefers touring or recording new music more, Richey has a hard time choosing.

“I couldn’t really pick a favorite, I really love doing both,” she says. “It’s great being in the studio, because it’s just a world that you can get into. It’s like a little bubble world that doesn’t exist anywhere else—you can just be in there and it’s all music. All your friends are there, and it’s pretty great. And touring is another thing, you know, and it’s got its own things that I like about it. I just go out with one or two other people—for example, for my show in Dayton, Dean Tidey will be playing with me. He’s a friend of mine that I met when I lived in London for three years. But I really love going to different parts of the country and seeing the different areas and meeting the different people, so that’s really good too.”

She pauses for a minute before continuing, “They’re just completely different things. Sometimes people ask me ‘Do you like writing songs better, or singing?’ They’re all just different.”

Kim Richey will perform at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22 at Gilly’s, 132 S. Jefferson St. in Dayton. Tickets are $15. For more information or for tickets, please visit or, or call 937.228.8414.

Tim Walker is 50 and a writer, DJ and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz and black t-shirts.

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Tim Walker
Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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