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Photo: Emily Plunkett

Gig Pick: Kimberly Sunstrum at Westfest—06.09.18

By Terry Steeves on June 5, 2018

Ottawa’s singer-songwriter Kimberly Sunstrum is the kind of artist that truly wears her heart on her sleeve, simply by being herself. She fearlessly conveys personal life experience, societal reflections, and lessons learned; and does it in a way that makes one stop and take notice. It’s an infectious combination of her catchy and uplifting melodies, along with the crisp spectrum of her vocals, delivered with soulful honesty.

In fewer than two years, Kimberly has been on a non-stop itinerary of club gigs, festival shows, music cruises, and released her first self-produced studio album, The Kid, The Wall & The Box (May 2017). Currently nearing completion stage for her second album, she decided to take a different approach:

“For this album this time around, I decided to get myself some fresh ears and collaborated with producer Dave Draves from Little Bullhorn Studio (Lynn Miles, Kathleen Edwards). Collaboration isn’t something I typically do, but it was an awesome and interesting experience… I never realized how beneficial it was to let other people into your writing process. Added to that I had ridiculously talented musicians Kira Montfort (drums) and Sean Duhaime (guitar), who came in with their intuitive, fresh ideas which was beyond anything I had hoped for.”

Both Kira and Sean, along with Ottawa’s Crystalena on backing vocals, will be joining Kimberly onstage at Westfest to deliver the full band experience on songs from her current and past recorded material, as well as a few new unrecorded pieces. It will be her second time performing on the Westfest stage, but her first in a full time slot. Kimberly reflects on her journey as a full-time singer-songwriter, and why Westfest is near and dear to her heart:

“It’s daunting to put your own music out there, but also to be candid and honest in your journey, your experiences, hardships, and your gains and losses. Whether it’s music or not, I think we need to realize as a society it’s very important that we have open minds of communication with things in general. And that’s why I love what Westfest does. It’s a unique festival in that it’s got such great and diverse entertainment in an environment that feels comfortable for everyone. As a queer woman of colour, I find the idea of having an inclusive space important, and that’s why Westfest is like a piece of home to me. It definitely embodies that idea of making every human being feel welcome.”

Kimberly Sunstrum performs on the Thom Fountain Team Stage on Saturday, June 9 from 5:50-6:40pm. Westfest celebrates their 15th Anniversary from Friday June 8 to Sunday June 10 at Tom Brown Arena and Park, located at 141 Bayview Road. Westfest is a free and inclusive music/arts festival. For more information, please visit