Little Big Town Singer Shares Thoughts on Family, Charleston, & the Holidays
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
She's a singer, actress, and the former host of Kimberly’s Simply Southern, a delightful hit television cooking series that ran for three seasons (2012-14) on GAC TV. As if she wasn't busy enough, Kimberly Schlapman, one fourth of country music's Little Big Town found time to write 'Oh Gussie', a down-home Southern cookbook published by Harper Collins in 2015.
Although she's perhaps most recognized with the Nashville super-group who have 24 hits to their credit, Schlapman is basically a down home country girl at heart, as familiar in the kitchen as she is on a concert stage.
"I'm passionate about both. However, they present two different energy levels for me. This year we (Little Big Town) celebrated 25 years as a band. I'm very proud of that. I'm probably the most nervous in the band. There's that little bit of edginess just before hitting the stage or doing TV, or performing at the Opry. But it's a good kind of edginess."
She admits home presents somewhat of a varying contrast. "Although I feel comfortable the stage, it's different in the kitchen. I consider the kitchen a stage of sorts, but at home it's okay to make mistakes, in concert in front of a live audience not so much."
While she has several friends in greater Charleston, Schlapman's visits to the low country would normally be on tour with Little Big Town. However, Schlapman along with five other notable guest talents will take part in the annual Illumination Charleston happening December 1st and 2nd at the Charleston Place Hotel and Visitor's Center.
Explore Charleston and Southern Living host the two day event as they light up the season with Southern Living editors, special guests, and a curated holiday market in the magical city of Charleston, South Carolina. "I know it's all things Christmas and holiday related. And I love Charleston and Christmas so much I can't wait to take part."
Schlapman admits she has to control herself this time of year. "I absolutely love everything about Christmas and the holidays. I have a hard time keeping myself from breaking out the decorations on November 1st. But usually closer to Thanksgiving we're starting to decorate the house."
She adds, "I thoroughly enjoy getting into the Christmas spirit. I love baking and making meals for friends and family. I especially love sharing that experience with my daughter Daisy, who by the way is amazing in the kitchen. She really loves to bake. Her friends get excited when she brings a Tupperware to school because they know they're in for a treat."
Schlapman and her husband Stephen have two daughters, Daisy their oldest and Dolly a lovely young girl they adopted in late 2016 and the inspiration for Schlapman's second book 'A Dolly for Christmas: The True Story of a Family's Christmas Miracle', what Schlapman and Daisy consider a true Christmas miracle and a gift from God.
Illumination Charleston opens on Friday (Dec 1st) evening with a kick-off party at Charleston Place, followed by a Holiday Market at the Visitors Center the following morning, closing out Saturday night with a Holiday Cocktail Fundraiser for MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital at The Parsonage from 6-7:30pm.
Schlapman will be bringing her chef skills to the two day event on Saturday. "I'll be doing a cooking demonstration. So I'm looking forward to that, and sharing with the people that are coming out. I get excited when I perform on stage in front of thousands of fans, but doing shows like this are more intimate. I get to interact with people. I'm passionate about cooking and decorating, and it ramps up around the holidays."
Faith and family have always driven Schlapman. "Getting together with my extended family every year is such a joy. We spend a few days before Christmas and after. It's just a lot of fun. And as soon as it's over we're talking about what we're going to do next year. We are very close."
Providing a welcome environment year round is something she's proud of. "I love making my home a haven, a place of comfort. I want people to come in and sense a feeling of 'cozy & warm'." She goes on to say, "I want it to be a place of fellowship where we can share with each other, and a lot of that has to do with food."
She admits she learned from the best when it comes providing comfort and hospitality. "My mother taught me you love on them by cooking. A good meal or a something baked can help with a healing process. One hundred percent of all I've learned in the kitchen and the home has come from my two grandmothers and my mother."
Schlapman glows when talking about her mom. "My mother was a school teacher. She'd work all day. Be the last to leave the school. If she knew a friend was hurting, maybe they lost their job, had a death in the family, or was celebrating a new birth, she'd go home make a casserole or a pie."
Her mom would go a step further. "Then she'd load my sister and me in the car and take it to them. She'd knock on the door and offer whatever words were needed, whether it was a happy of sad time. And then on top of all that we'd head home and she'd cook for the family." Schlapman hopes to pay it forward. "I learned so much about lifting people's spirits up from my mom, and I hope to pass that on to my girls."
Schlapman's time will be fast and furious in Charleston as she heads to Washington DC later on Saturday. "Little Big Town is going to take part in a celebration to honor Barry Gibb (Bee Gees)." It's all part of the 46th annual Kennedy Center Honors. "We're all big fans and it's a great honor to be able to salute an icon in the entertainment industry." The show tapes Sunday December third and will be broadcast in January on CBS.
Despite a quick turn-around, she hopes to take advantage of every minute she's in the Holy City. "I absolutely love Charleston. Can't wait to get back there and take part in this wonderful event."
She has nothing but rave reviews for Charleston. "It's such a unique town and worthy of all the accolades it receives. It has an impeccable food and beverage scene. I love the overall charm you get by just walking down the streets. It has so much to offer. Hopefully I'll find time to shop and walk around the town some before I head out."
Also taking part in Illumination Charleston are Andrew Zimmern, an Emmy-winning and four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer and social justice advocate, as well as floral designer of your dreams and Atlanta native Canaan Marshall.
Rounding out the celebrity talent are Editorial Producer for Southern Living Ivy Odom, Jocelyn Delk Adams founder, author, national television personality and brand ambassador behind the award winning cookbook Grandbaby Cakes, and New York City-based, American fashion designer Lela Rose widely regarded for her elegant aesthetic and fresh point of view.
Join Explore Charleston and Southern Living as they host Illumination Charleston December 1st and 2nd. For event schedule, talent bios, and ticket info visit https://www.southernlivingilluminationcharleston.com/