Who Is Kimpedro?
Illustrator/ Drummer/ Author/ Educator/ Visionary/Creative Consultant
Kimpedro! is... a product of the culturally diverse community of the Spring Garden section of North Philadelphia. He is an illustrator, drummer/bandleader, author, educator, visionary and creative consultant. Kimpedro received his formal education in fine arts, advertising design, illustration, and graphics at not only the Thomas Eakins’ House and Fleischer Art Memorial but also The Philadelphia College of Art, Hussian School of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and The Society of Illustrators in New York. That was after the influence of his mother Delores, who is an artist -seamstress/ painter/RN, painter Kippy Stroud at 1812 Green St., teachers Byrde Tuckerman at Masterman, and Leslie Kamison at Overbrook's Arts Magnet Program.
He received his first award as an artist at the ripe age of 7. His first-grade teacher, Miss Knightinger, recognized his gift right away. Kimpedro placed third in the well-known juried "Clothesline Exhibit" held annually in Rittenhouse Square. His award was a scholarship to the prestigious Museum School of The Philadelphia Museum of Art and art supplies. As a young middle school student, Kimpedro served as an intern in Smith Kline & French's design department under the mentorship of artist Charles Johnson, while working in SK&F's community-based Information Services Center (ISC), part-time. He also briefly studied with graphic designer/illustrator Ruben A. Benson (WDAS radio's graphics ads and logos). These mentorships provided the skill sets for him to not only co-edit, illustrate and publish SmithKline's "Potentials" community newsletter but also design a poster for a transitioning Philadelphia Opera Company which would lead to the first time he would appear in the Daily News for his creative gifts. He also received tickets for several operas that season, including Beverly Sills' last performance in Philadelphia. Also while working at Smith Kline/Smith Kline & French he held offices in the "Potentials" program as well as had an office and shared a secretary at ISC. He started as a regular member and later became the secretary. He then was elected to vice president, then finally president of the youth group by his senior year of high school. It was as president that Kimpedro was introduced to the corporate side of the programs' operations. He oversaw the meetings, fundraising, and other activities of the group and also represented them at SK meetings, private and exclusive functions, and several other social engagements. Those functions included dinners and receptions with actors Cicely Tyson and Alan Alda, world-renowned painter, Romare Bearden, Philadanco's Joan Myers Brown, who at the time was also teaching at Overbrook High School, where he attended, humorist/activist Dick Gregory, and the legendary boxing icon, Muhammed Ali among others. The Potentials program was created for career-minded students by the late Carver A. Portlock and Zeb Alston and was located in Spring Garden. It educated students, from ages 14 to college age, in world cultures, economics, politics, and geography through travel as well as community development and a concentration on all aspects of higher education. SmithKline created a matching fund grant that helped accommodate all students who wanted to attend college. Upon graduation, Kimpedro received scholarships and financial aid from the School District of Philadelphia, Concerned Black Men, White Williams Foundation, and Holy Temple C.O.G.I.C. along with his matching fund grant from SmithKline.
Athletically, Kimpedro was a championship high and triple jumper at Overbrook during their long-running #1 track team national status. Overbrook's track coach snatched him from the basketball game in the gym after watching him fly across the court. He offered a safer passage on the track and field. He was also the captain of his Holy Temple basketball team, his Roberto Clemente Knicks basketball team, SmithKline Knicks teams, and the Kingsway Lutheran Church basketball team in Spring Garden.
Kimpedro's musical education began in his neighborhood, where he thought the bombastic rhythms, being played by African American, Puerto Rican, and Indigenous percussionists that filled the air daily, was his personal soundtrack for his life. Supervised drum lessons began at Julia Reynolds Masterman. His percussive skills would further develop at St. John's Music Settlement, Overbrook High School, Lutheran Ministries Touring Performing Arts Program, random private instruction, in his living room, and on the bandstand.
Kimpedro went on to play in several musical situations, including a band comprised of first-year foundation students from the Philadelphia College of Art, a few friends from the community, and the Community College of Philadelphia Big Band under the direction of Dr. George Allen and the late Wayne Smith Sr. until co-founding the successful JazGuardian Musician’s Organization in 1993 with Dm Hotep (Sun Ra guitarist). In 1996, It was J Michael Harrison of WRTI 90.1fm who put JazGuardian on the map. He partnered JazGuardian - Kimpedro, Dm Hotep, and Alim "The MindGrewsome" Lucas with Jill Scott in the studio for his Friday night broadcast. Alim blew Jill away with his presentation on "Trap Door" that J Michael debuted on the program. He was mentored by a Who’s Who of Philadelphia musical royalty including Robert Kenyatta and Byard Lancaster among others. Kimpedro organized his JazGuardian ensemble complete with strings, and they would serve as the house band for The Philadelphia Eagles’ Celebrity Auction/Dinner and Golf Tournaments for @7 years with Dm Hotep as MD. During this time, Kimpedro with JazGuardian accommodated a variety of clients including The Barristers Association, United Negro College Fund, Madam C.J. Walker Foundation, Womens' Black National Congress, Dawn Staley Foundation, Community Marketing Concepts (on retainer), Un Litter Us, Welcome Americas, WHYY Channel 12 and WPVI Channel 6, the late Lana Felton Ghee, Ron White, former mayors, and dignitaries, etc…
In 2012, Kimpedro founded The NU GRuV Network. It is an artists’ collective, where a family of approximately 25 multi-disciplinary artists collaborate, build ensembles, compose, direct, produce, and audio engineer, troubleshoot a wide variety of creative challenges that our clients encounter, and resolve them with innovative solutions. NU GRuV quickly became a reliable source in the Philadelphia area's diverse cultural & creative community.
Kimpedro has produced and co-produced more than a dozen successful events and shows since NU GRuVs’ inception. Those shows include “Transitions: Change Gonna’ Come” featuring 2015-2016 Kimmel Jazz Residents Kendrah Butler Waters and Shamika Byrd with Aisha Brooks-Lytle and “The Intersection of Jazz and Hip Hop”. Both were at Venice Island. “The Living Room Sessions”, "Dreams and Visions", and “Spirits In The Dark” were presented at The Community Education Center under the leadership of Leo Gadson of The Producer's Guild. He art/music directed four of eight “Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra” concerts under the supervision of Homer Jackson and The Philadelphia Jazz Project (PJP). He showcased at The Barnes, Ardmore Music Hall, Johnny Brenda’s, and World Café Live. All of these shows either sold out or were SRO. Kimpedro created the ‘HoodStock InnerCity Arts & Music Festival in Spring Garden (2003-2015) as the musical component of "The Survivors Reunion" - created to bring together several families abruptly displaced by gentrification.
In the summer of 2018, he was a production assistant to Homer Jackson for the concert series "Courtyard Fridays" held on Staten Island in conjunction with New York Council on the Arts, that engaged folk as they boarded and unloaded from the Ferry directly across the street. Kimpedro was a featured and supporting artist in the "Mysterious Traveler" Concert Series with The Central Branch of the Free Library and PJP. He also provided musicians from NGN to accommodate other featured artists in the series. He produced a jazz/R&B tribute to Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, and Sade, showcasing a 9-piece interchangeable ensemble from his NU GRuV Network. He co-produced a Martin Luther King tribute with CSN Productions, "A Visit From The King", a multi-disciplinary presentation. Kimpedro participated as a studio session musician in the "Remedy Project" which was a musical collaboration between local jazz musicians, healthcare workers, and medical professionals, who worked together to interpret classics, as well as create new arrangements and original music ( PBS aired one of the studio sessions at Spice House Sound on their series "Movers & Shakers") He also performed in and recorded compositions for "The Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy Project" which was a year-long series of cultural events and artistic commissions generated by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Ten mixed tapes and two videos were produced by PJP during this project. Kimpedro was part of the ensemble that presented "We Shall: A Lyrical MLK Celebration" at The Museum of the American Revolution in 2019 and 2020 as well as "Sounds of the Revolution - Revisiting Fife & Drum".
Several of these PJP performances can be seen on YouTube, PhillyCam TV, and on FIOS and Xfinity cable/streaming services
Kimpedro has recently served as a pit musician for two stage plays, “Beauty Monster” by Elise Moreau and “Walk In My Shoes” by Teya Sepunick. He has worked and toured with choreographer, breaker, lyricist, and adjunct professor Raphael Xavier developing a new stage presentation that was scheduled to continue touring in Spring 2020, entitled “Sassafrazz: Roots to Mastery”, but was reinvented during the pandemic and became "The Musician and The Mover". Because of the pandemic, we had to do our tour presentation via Zoom with the Michigan Institute of Technology and St. Josephs in Connecticut from theatres in Philadelphia (Performance Garage, Hedgerow, Koresh Dance Studios). "TM&TM" began its new in-person trek in June 2021 with a developmental residency at "The Yard" on Martha's Vineyard. showcased at The Featherstone Center for the Arts on the Island. It then premiered and ran for three sold-out shows at New York Live Arts before another sell-out run at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Boston.
Kimpedro has held musical residencies at Dean Koukulos' Frangelica Restaurant, Delilah Winders’ Bluesette’s Restaurant, The Blue Moon Jazz Club in the Bourse, Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant, and Triumph Brewery & Restaurant. He co-produced a seasonal "Memorial Porch Jazz" series in conjunction with an active Mantua community where he started as an assistant recreation leader for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in 1985. He has been a member of Clay Corley's internet radio programs' - Spotlight On Jazz & Poetry Radio's -House Band since 2014, in 2019 he made his debut as “artistic musical ” director and successfully produced "Muses in Motion" in 2019 and "Love & Cigars" and "Ascension" in 2022 and "Future Now" in April 2023.
Kimpedro is currently a Creative Arts Recreation Specialist for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. He introduces school-age children to the creative arts and develops them to perform on a major Philadelphia stage (Venice Island and The Robin Hood Dell East) in eight weeks. He then rotates to another site and repeats the process over again with another group of children. He also is the director and an instructor at PP&R's performing arts camps. He has served as an illustrator and counselor and has led middle, high school, and college youth groups ( Smith Kline Potentials and Department of the Interior Youth Conservation Corps) since the 70s.
He is completing his first solo book project “GOD is The Ultimate Time Keeper: This Drummer’s Story” with his illustrations and accompanying musical compositions to be released in 2023. "The 6th Hour..." from the aforementioned book has been separated from the whole as a pilot project with a screenplay in progress. The soundtrack for this "mini' project is being composed by Kimpedro, and Marcell Bellinger and is being brought to life by several other members of KNGN. Kimpedro also serves as a creative consultant for a growing number of clients in the region. When he’s not drumming, writing, or teaching, he operates his PaperBag Graphix creative arts service that provides custom greeting cards, flyers, CD/Album art, in-home murals, major illustrations, and more.
PaperBag Graphix was born during a very dark period of Kimpedro's life. His upcoming book, "The 6th Hour - Kimpedro's Greatest Hits & Other Cocaine Related Stories" goes into depth about how Kimpedro fell victim to his cocaine addiction in 1987. Because of his behaviors, he no longer could afford art supplies. He would ask local merchants who knew him if he could have a few paper bags. Without question, they said to take as many as you need. Kimpedro used the paper bags to document and illustrate his downward spiral. He didn't realize the impact of this creative episode on his life. It would not only provide an escape but create sustainability. Kimpedro was subsequently incarcerated due to his addiction, but resources in prison created a platform for him to exhibit his new mixed-media artwork. Third Street Gallery showcased artwork from prisons across the state and Kimpedro's work was center stage, because he actually attended the exhibit while still incarcerated. He exhibited 15 illustrations and 8 were from his PaperBag Graphix collection. He sold all but one from the collection. Upon his release, he continued to develop his new concept. One of his paper bag illustrations was recently published in "Philadelphia Jazz Stories" - Volume 1, produced by The Philadelphia Jazz Project and art directed by Marvel Illustrator Eric Battle. A children's book, "Battery Man", written by Victoria Huggins Peurifoy was also illustrated by Kimpedro in 2014 and the cover is done on paper bag stock. Two other original children's books have been laid out for his illustrations. He has also designed CD art for members of NGN as well as his own CD covers, also on paper bags. PaperBag Graphix thrives!
Kimpedro loves the LORD, from WHOM all his Blessings flow, His early church affiliations were with the Salvation Army and Kingsway Lutheran Church under Roger Zepernick in his neighborhood. He has since served in the music ministries of Philippian Baptist Church under Rev. Samuel Amos Brackeen from 1990 - 1996; Greater Exodus Baptist Church under Pastor Herbert H. Lusk ll from 1996 - 2010. During his time at GEBC, he played for fundraisers such as "Stand For Africa", a private block party that hosted former president George W. Bush and a presentation for NFL great, Walter Payton before he transitioned. He served at Calvary Baptist Church under Sean Wise in 2000. He's served at Crossroads Missionary Baptist Church under Pastor John Johnson since 2014 - present, St Thomas under Fr. Martini Shaw, St. Michael's Episcopal Church under Fr. Jordan Casson on special occasions, and as part of the Community Choir at St. James The Less under Fr. Andrew Kelner since 2021 and finally church Done Different under Pastor Jamal Vann 2020. Because of his deep spiritual roots, Kimpedro created an Inspirational Jazz presentation to share with churches in the region to accommodate and cross-pollinate church/spiritual events.
Kimpedro has performed in many notable venues/events including The Kimmel Center, Ardmore Music Hall, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Foundation, The International House, The Philadelphia Convention Center, The Mann Center for Performing Arts, The Painted Bride, The Museum of The American Revolution, The Discovery Center, African American Museum, The Mayor's Reception Room, Philadelphia International Airport, JJ's Grotto, The Chesnut Cabaret, Zanzibar Blue, Hard Rock Cafe, The Discovery Center, Historical Belmont and Upsala Mansions, Welcome America Festival, Media Jazz Festival, West Oak Lane Jazz Festival, Lancaster Avenue Jazz Festival, Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, PAFA, Lewis Arts Complex (Princeton) , Hightstown Harvest Festival, New York Live Arts, ICA ( Boston), Martha's Vineyard, Palmas Del Mar (P.R.).. and as a leader and/or sideman with Vanida Gail, Kendrah Butler Waters, Odean Pope, Adam Faulk, Millenium Big Band, Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble, Hip-Soul, Souls On Ice, Kaligata, R.A.I.N., Reggae Thunder, Tyrone Brown, Eye2Eye Trio, Sumi Tanooka, Barbara Montgomery, Steve Baylock's Jazz Planet, Carla Gamble, Gloria Galante, Bobby Zankel, After Hours, Dr. Jay Fluellen, Ruth Naomi Floyd, Monika Herzig, LAB Test, Raimundo Santos, Sharif Abdullah's Express, Marcell Bellinger, Mike Boone, the late Monnette Sudler, Byard Lancaster, Bernard Samuel, Khan Jamal and Barry Shuck, as well as hosts of others.
When you acknowledge GOD for being the Source of All Creativity, The Sky is Not the Limit!"