Author Spotlights

Volume VI, Andy Kim

You know how you start singing a song with catchy lyrics and then it gets stuck in your head– the kind that has you singing out loud while simultaneously doing a quick little spin when nobody is looking? 

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Cece chats with Canadian Singer and Songwriter Andy Kim

Volume VI

December 8th


You know how you start singing a song with catchy lyrics and then it gets stuck in your head– the kind that has you singing out loud while simultaneously doing a quick little spin when nobody is looking? 

You know the ones:

Rock me gently
Rock me slowly
Take it easy
Don’t you know
That I have never been loved like this before

Or this song, which will drop you right back into your Friday night high school dance, and will keep you humming and clapping your hands long after you finish this blog:

Sugar, sugar, honey, honey
You are my candy girl
And you got me wanting you
Honey, honey, sugar, sugar

Canadian singer and songwriter, Andy Kim, is the much beloved musician who has gifted us with these kinds of chart topper tunes since he burst onto the music scene back in the 1960s.


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At 16 years of age, Kim, propelled by a passion to visit the renowned Brill Building in New York City, convinced his dad to give his permission to go based solely on the fact that the family had relatives in New Jersey.

“The Brill, which was located at 1619 Broadway Avenue, was an iconic music building where many famous writers and musicians – artists like Jerry Lieber, Chuck Berry, and Carole King – recorded their music. The building also housed publishers and producers like Phil Spector, who made records in that building. Bobby Darrin had an office there too.  I just had to go and see it for myself.”

Young and enthusiastic, Kim didn’t worry about the particulars of his visit –  he just went for it. Once inside the lobby of the Brill Building, Kim scanned the directory board until he found the name he was looking for- Jeff Barry, ninth floor – and that is where he went. Luckily, most would say serendipitously, Barry was in his office and agreed to give the young Montreal native five minutes of his time before running off to an appointment.

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Kim, who is a wonderful story teller with a wry sense of humour, warms up to the story as he recreates his visit with Barry.

“Jeff liked the song I played for him – How’d We Ever Get This Way- or at least some of it,” Kim says. “He told me to do some work on it and then contact him again. When he told me that he was running late, that he had to leave for the studio, I asked him a question that I will never forget. ‘Can I come with you, Jeff? I have never been to a studio before.’ So there I was walking on Broadway with Jeff Barry – this iconic producer- on the way to the studio with him. I only stayed for a few minutes, before leaving and going back to the Brill Building, where I went to the ninth floor, got Jeff’s phone number, then left to go back home. In my mind, I felt that I had already made it. The thing is, ignorance and confidence will get you somewhere; if you blindly follow the beacon of light that you believe in, you are going to find the place that is bigger than your own dreams.”

In 1968, How’d We Ever Get This Way? was released on Barry’s Steed label, just missing the U.S. Top 20. (It came in at #21). Kim and Barry went on to co-write Sugar, Sugar, (One of Billboard’s greatest songs of all time), for the Archies, which reached the #1 position on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.  

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Through what Kim calls sheer persistence, some of his early songs became chart toppers. “Two of my songs were released on the same day – May 24th, 1969,” Kim says.  “Baby I Love You became a #1 hit and my first million dollar seller. But Sugar, Sugar didn’t get on the charts until July of that year.”   

His next song, Rock Me Gently, was not gaining any traction on radio stations, so Kim started his own production company called ICE, because he really believed in the power and the melody of that song.

“I was born with the gene that doesn’t understand the word, no,” Kim says with a wry laugh.

Eschewing a ‘star’ persona, Kim’s attitude and approach to fame is centred instead on being in the moment.

“The present moment is all I have. I could be in a situation where I am stuck on the highway and upset with traffic, but rather than choosing that mindset, or picking up the phone, I stay in the moment and dream,” Kim says. “I think the important thing is that I am happy. There were times when people thought I was irrelevant, but was I happy? Yes. Was I disappointed?  Maybe. But the thing is, I could never be unhappy. We are all born with a certain amount of heartbeats, and no matter what you do, you are not going to get any more heartbeats than you were slotted to have. Remember that.”

A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Kim was inducted into Billboard’s Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009. He is an inductee in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, (2019), and Canada’s Walk of Fame, (2018), as well as being a Juno award winner.  

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“When I was a kid my Mom used to call me ‘friends with the wind’ because no one could ever find me. I would be lost in an environment that was completely magical to me. I just followed my outsized imagination; it was a blessing, it gave me this life,” Kim says with a laugh.

The annual Andy Kim Christmas Special, which is Kim’s brainchild, is in its 16th year. Presented by THE AIR MILES® REWARD PROGRAM, the two-hour music special, which is being broadcast from Toronto’s celebrated El Mocambo on December 19 at 8 p.m. debuts on Citytv and as well as streamed globally at  The event, which is in support of Crew Nation, CAMH Gifts of Light and Food Banks Canada, features performances by Barenaked Ladies, Broken Social Scene, Buffy Sainte-Marie, City and Colour, Glass Tiger & Roch Voisine, Jully Black, Ron Sexsmith, Sam Roberts, Sarah McLachlan, Serena Ryder & William Prince and of course, Andy Kim himself.

“When this Christmas special first came about, I had never produced before, but I felt that I could do it,” Kim says. “It is a moment in time when I give some of my heartbeats. It does not matter which genre the musician plays in. If I feel a connection, I ask the artist to be a part of the show.”

As we are about to hang up, Kim has one final thought, which he voices in the gentlest of tones.

“You have spent a lot of your heartbeats with me today, Cece; I hope they weren’t wasted.”

Quite the contrary, Andy. In fact, the heart is that much warmer, that much more musical for having spent quality time with such a talented yet humble and playful man.

Ain’t it good

Ain’t it right

That you are here with me tonight

Make sure to drop in next week when Cece chats with Stephen Leacock Humour Award winner, Joseph Kertes, whose books include Winter Tulips, Boardwalk, Gratitude, The Afterlife of Stars, as well as his latest book, Last Impressions.

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If you are not a subscriber to Cece’s Chat on Chapters you can do so right here, right now.   Cece is the feature cover writer for several prestigious publications both in print and online, and an informed, connected and enthusiastic book blogger at Her first book, The Love Story, was published in 2019. Her second book will be coming out in early 2021. Cece is also working on a book of Daily Reflections for AutoImmune Condition Warriors.

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