It is almost an impossible task to discuss music influencers without mentioning the name of Kimble Funchess. His love and interest in music is highly regarded among his peers. He became a music educator while simultaneously pursuing a professional music career as a trumpeter. He is now releasing his new single “Reconnect and Sacrifice.” According to Funchess, “I felt a need at this point in my life to reconnect to God, family, and those components that have kept me grounded in life.”
As a professional musician, Funchess has performed with some of the nation’s greatest artists in jazz, gospel, blues and R&B. Some of the most noted artists are B. B. King, The O’Jays, Wilson Pickett, Charley Pride, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Johnnie Taylor, composer/arranger Benjamin Wright (The Benjamin Wright Orchestra), The Fifth Dimension, Paul Overstreet, Mavis Staples, Brandy, Dorothy Moore, Lionel Hampton’s Big Band, David “Fathead” Newman, Willie Clayton, Eddie Cotton, Bobby Rush, Nanette Workman, Hubert Sumlin, Pine Top Perkins, Raphael Semmes and “Mississippi LIVE!”, Fusion Coffee House Jazz Series, rap artist David Banner, and The Spinners. He performed as part of the orchestra for the first Mississippi Grammy event that honored Mississippians who have won Grammy awards such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Overstreet, Marty Stuart, Brandy, Charley Pride, and Robert Johnson.
Funchess has also performed with local Jackson churches, including Anderson United Methodist Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Broadmoor Baptist Church, and Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church. He is a founding member of Anderson United Methodist Church’s instrumental ensemble “Gospazz”. Presently, he serves as a member of the orchestra at Pearl Street African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Funchess has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education. He also has a master’s in school counseling. He has served as the facilitator for classes that focused on learning problem solving skills as a tool for 6th graders, assisting them through music therapy, mindfulness, and relaxation methods. His wide-ranging career led him to positions as a Pre-GED teacher and Director of Bands at McComb High School, Yazoo City High School, Peeples Middle School and Yazoo County Schools’ Director of Bands. The Yazoo County Panther Band has performed the National Anthem at the New Orleans Pelicans vs Los Angeles Lakers basketball game in November 2016 and then again in 2018. As an area band director, Funchess’ groups have earned superior and excellent ratings in marching and concert evaluations.
He has been featured on many blues and gospel recordings on Ace Records, Malaco, and Blackberry Records. He has also recorded with and arranged horns for The Williams Brothers, The Jackson Southernaires, and Pastor Tim Rogers and the Fellas. The gospel single, “Happy with Jesus” has been featured on Video Gospel on BET. Funchess made his movie debut with a musician’s role in the Dixieland Band for the James Brown movie “Get On Up!”
In September 2019, Funchess performed Satchmo! A Tribute to Louis Armstrong as part of the 2019 Mississippi Opera season and also for the 2021 Natchez Festival of Music. He was also honored as the recipient of the Mississippi Jazz Foundation (MJF) 2021 Music Education Award for commitment to musicianship and creativity in education in schools. The Kimble Funchess Music Group performed at the W. C. Handy Festival 2022 and was the 2022 JMA Jazz Group of The Year recipient. He is listed on the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Artist Roster.
Teaching children through his Mindfulness Through Music, LLC is a service that promotes the daily practice of social skill sets through a four-pillar concept. It is an encouraging and self-motivating concept of infusing positive social and emotional skills using music as the catalyst. It promotes coping mechanisms that are helpful throughout life. Funchess says, “My goal is to infuse the arts and mental health nurturing as a daily practice in the educational setting. Also, our (busyness) in life can rob us of valuable time with family.”
“Reconnect and Sacrifice” (The Journey) single can be found at https://kimblefunchess.hearnow.com.