The singing stylist
This article appeared in the February 2016 edition of the New Edinburgh News - www.newedinburgh.ca. Reproduced with permission.
Local hairstylist Kim Kaskiw has a multitude of talents, only one of which is her mastery of the techniques of cutting, styling and colouring hair.
Kim is well known in Ottawa’s music community as an accomplished jazz vocalist, performing for many years with her own jazz band, The Kim Kaskiw Sextet, who have been regulars at the Ottawa Jazz Festival and in venues throughout the region.
In addition to her performing career, Kim also has long experience as both a voice coach and a singing instructor, taking on private students from a wide variety of backgrounds to whom she has imparted the techniques of breath control, warm up exercises, posture, dynamics and musicality, voice projection, tuning and the myriad other secrets of melodious singing and commanding public speaking. Over the years, her singing students have included stars such as Juno-award winning Kelly-Lee Evans and Sue Foley.
As a vocal coach, she has taught hundreds of teachers, politicians and others grappling with voice challenges. Kim is a member of the Faculty of Music Performance at Carleton University, and has extensive training and experience in the realm of voice pathology, working with singers suffering from vocal cord nodes or chronic voice strain, as well as those recovering from vocal fold surgery.
While Kim has had no shortage of music and voice students, and serves a steady clientele of hairstyling customers at her home-based studio on Marier Street, individuals seeking help in all three of these domains – at once! – are a relative rarity. Shortly before Christmas, Kim was touched to receive a glowing letter entitled “Songs of Praise for Kim” from freelance writer Lydia Louli, an appreciative client who is, in fact, a recipient of both her singing instruction and voice coaching, as well as of her hairstyling wizardry.
Lydia first met Kim when she resolved to pursue a life-long dream of learning to sing, and overcoming her shame and embarrassment at what she assumed was her “tin ear.” Once embarked on a weekly routine of lessons with Kim, Lydia was thrilled with her progress: “The first thing she addressed was my breathing…. We worked on this and matching notes she played on the keyboard,” said Lydia. “The first time I sang a melody from start to finish on key – I was amazed! I have continued my lessons for three years and my ability to carry a tune has improved greatly. My sessions with Kim are bright spots in my week and I love working with her on new, and ever more challenging songs.”
Next on Lydia’s agenda was seeking Kim’s expertise as a voice coach: “Kim coached me in voice projection and diction and my oratory skills were enhanced to the point where I felt comfortable speaking to a large group. My oration was successful and the boost to my ability to speak has become a huge asset,” said Lydia.
Last but not least, Lydia topped up her successes in singing and oratory with a hairstyling transformation: “Kim was incredibly diligent, giving me highlights that looked natural ….(and) a style that suited me...Every cut and style was done with strict attention to detail and utmost care… my hair has never looked better!”
Summing up her happy experience at Studio Kim, Lydia writes: “for either vocal coaching or hairstyling, Studio Kim is definitely the place to be. For the fortunate few such as myself, it can be a One Stop Shop. I found my voice and a rocking hairstyle to boot!”
Studio Kim looks ahead to 2015
New Edinburgh News, January 2015
Master colourist and stylist Kim Kaskiw welcomes new and returning clients to her home salon. Her message for New Year is simple: "I'm here, available, have reasonable prices and I've had many years' experience in the business."
Having worked from her home salon, Studio Kim, for two years, she is trained in Wella and Schwarzkopf products and calls her eye for finding the right hair colour for any woman "a gift." Kim prides herself on her personal service and the discretion she affords her clients. "I take one client at a time and [they] get my undivided attention. I learn about what they do and the kind of people that they are. If my chair could talk... but it never will!" she laughs.
Born and raised in Toronto, Kim's parents both owned salons. "They met in hairdressing school when my mother used to cheat on her theory tests by copying my dad, and he let her because he was in love with her!" Kim was making pin curls at four years old, much to her father's delight. She also trained in a high-end Yorkville salon, but her skills are not limited to the art of women's hair.
Kim is an accomplished tuba player and jazz singer with her own CD, Shades of Love. Her next project is a Latin jazz album inspired by Cuban rhythm.
She also works from home as a vocal coach and is on the faculty of Performance as a voice teacher at Carleton University.
Beyond her many acccomplishments, Kim received a corneal transplant – life-changing surgery in 2014 which gave her 20/20 vision. Her late partner George Burke donated his corneas in her honour and she is a passionate advocate of organ donation. "Because of George, two other people are able to see." She displays a plaque received in honour of his donation.
Looking ahead to 2015, Kim doesn't get bogged down by the small stuff. "I'm just grateful, every day."
To book a hair appointment or vocal session with Kim, call 613-747-8835 or visit www.kimkaskiw.com.
Studio Kim Hairstyling: The Barber of Seville!
New Edinburgh News, June 2013
While Kim Kaskiw is well known in our community, and indeed throughout the city, for her musical talents as a jazz singer, tuba player, singing instructor and voice coach, her second vocation as an experienced hairstylist is perhaps not yet equally common knowledge beyond her circle of her long-time clients. Both Kim's parents were in the hairstyling business, and she worked in their salons while in her early 20s, later training in a high-end Yorkville establishment where she was mentored by Vidal Sassoon's partner Malcolm. Here in Ottawa, she worked at Celadon and Moda salons before setting up her own, home-based operation here in our community (Beechwood and Vanier Park area).
Kim's impressive credentials in the field include certification as a master level colourist with both Wella and Schwarzkopf, and she takes pride in her proficiency in guiding her clients to a colour selection that best complements their skin tone and eye colour. Because of the comparitively low overhead overhead costs of operating a home-based business, Kim is able to keep her prices within a highly affordable range, and offers monthly specials.
While her business is focused primarily on precision cuts, hairstyling and colouring, Kim also has a limited esthetics repertoire that includes eyebrow shaping and tinting, as well as the occasional makeukp makeover.
No account of Kim's talents would be complete without reference to her musical career, first and foremost as an accomplished jazz singer with her own jazz band, the Kim Kaskiw Sextet. In late January, they came together to donate their time for a successful benefit concert to raise the funds required to cover the costs of a prosthetic iris that Kim requires for a third and final surgery to restore the sight in her left eye. Kim and her band will be performing for the Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 24th, so jazz lovers should be sure to take in this local talent and support a long-time community member.
In addition to her work as a vocalist, Kim is on the Faculty of Music Performance at Carleton University, and offers private singing lessons two days each week. Her star-studded clients include such local success stories as Kelly-Lee Evans and Sue Foley, along with numerous other professional singers. She also has a background in speech pathology, and provides voice coaching and instruction in voice care to politicians, newscasters, teachers, singers, and individuals from a range of backgrounds whose vocal chords have been compromised through disease or overuse.
With her twin vocations of music and hairstyling, Kim jokingly alludes to herself as "the barber (or perhaps more accurately, stylist) of Seville," an admirable label that testifies to her life-loving, positive approach to her demanding careers. She is philosophical about both her chosen paths: "I love helping people; I love making people beautiful; and music chooses us!"
We wish her luck with her final restorative eye surgery this summer, and hope that her Burgh-based hairstyling business continues to flourish, along with her rich musical life.
Five Questions for Kim Kaskiw
Ottawa singer Kim Kaskiw has been blind in her left eye for two decades. But if all goes well — and “all” includes a fundraising concert this Friday — she will be able to see again, thanks to a series of surgeries and an artificial iris.
The fundraiser will feature Kaskiw with her band (pianist J.P. Allain, trumpeter RickRangno, saxophonist Mike Tremblay, bassist Tom Denison and drummer Don Johnston), and is to take place at the Knights of Columbus on McArthur Road in Vanier.
Below, Kaskiw discusses this special show and her hopes to see again in her left eye.
1) If you don’t mind, please tell me about the your vision issues.
I am doing a concert to raise money for my next eye surgery. I need a prosthetic iris implanted in my eye, which costs $5,500, as well as living expenses while I recover from surgery. Any extra money will be donated to ‘A Life a Year’ and the Eye Institute at the Ottawa General Hospital.
I received a successful cornea transplant in November of 2011. However, my journey toward sight in my left eye is not yet complete. On Oct. 12 last year, I had adult strabismus surgery. This time they operated on both eyes to straighten the eyes.
In the winter of 2013, I will undergo yet another surgery — this time to implant a prosthetic iris in my eye to protect it from the excruciating pain of bright light, as well as cataract surgery. If everything goes well, I will have my sight restored completely in my left eye by next year. I have been blind in that eye for 20 years!
The prosthetic iris is not covered by OHIP, so I am doing this fund raising concert to raise money for my new iris and also to bring awareness of the importance of organ donation. Friday’s concert will be a celebration of the gift of organ donation, sight and the love of many friends who have supported me in my journey.
2) Tell me about the music you will be performing with the sextet on Friday.
We will be playing some of the music from my CD Shades of Love in the first set and the second set will be some of my original material which is in a Latin Jazz style. We will also be playing a few of J.P. Allain’s arrangements of jazz standards. Three of my very talented young students (ages 11, 12 and 15 years old) will be opening for me singing some jazz and upbeat songs. Teaching music is very important to me and I believe it enriches our community. I am delighted that they are going to be helping me out on Friday night! The audience is in for a treat!
3) Tell me about the musical relationships that have formed over time between you and the members of your sextet.
I have been working with these exceptionally talented men for over 20 years. I consider J.P. Allain to be one of Canada’s great musical treasures and also my musical mentor. I have learned so much from him. I will be performing a composition I wrote for him called Waltz for J.P. Don Johnson has the hardest grooving sense of swing I have ever heard. He hands it out on a silver platter for any musician who works with him. Tom Denison has a deep sense of groove and I have known him the longest. He befriended me as soon as I moved to Ottawa and didn’t know a soul. Rick Rangno and his wife Eva have been friends of mine for many years and I am delighted to be working with him again after a few years of being involved in separate musical projects. Last but certainly not least is Mike Tremblay who I have watched grow into one of the most sought-after musicians in the country. He is the consummate gentleman and a fantastic musician and one of the nicest guys I have ever met. I should mention that all of the musicians as well as Mike Mullin who is doing sound for the evening are doing so free of charge to help me with this project. I am very grateful and honoured to be working with them.
4) What other musical projects do you have in the works?
I am working on writing and arranging original music to record a second CD. I need to get an iris first before I start saving up for that!
5) How do you balance your musical aspirations and activities with the other things going on in your life?
It is always a tough thing to balance. I teach singing, I am a licensed hairstylist and I teach hairstyling at the Ottawa Academy. I work on average six days a week. The work is rewarding beyond imagination but not terribly rewarding financially. I wouldn’t dream of doing anything else though. I am grateful to share my gifts.