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CLINE: Kimbro following a stage dream

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
 Catherine Kimbro, a member of tonight’s graduating class at Central Gwinnett High School, is an aspiring singer-song writer. She will perform Monday at The Harvest Table Restaurant in Dacula from 11 a.m. To 2 p.m. 

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Catherine Kimbro, a member of tonight’s graduating class at Central Gwinnett High School, is an aspiring singer-song writer. She will perform Monday at The Harvest Table Restaurant in Dacula from 11 a.m. To 2 p.m. 

Catherine Kimbro will receive her diploma tonight, walking across the stage at Central Gwinnett High School’s stadium like the rest of the graduating seniors. It’s a setting she plans on getting used to as she moves forward with the next phase of her life.

An aspiring singer-songwriter, Kimbro has played the famed Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and had a couple of her songs played locally on country music station 94.9 The Bull. Like the rest of the Gwinnett seniors graduating this week, the 17-year-old has big dreams.

For now, however, they involve the stage and not a college classroom.

“It’s not a question of what I want to do,” she said. “It’s just how I get it done, I guess.”

Kimbro will be recognized as an honor graduate at tonight’s ceremonies. She likes school and has always done well academically. But by her sophomore year at Central, she realized writing and performing songs was her calling.

“I didn’t want to do anything else,” she said. “Nothing held my attention like music could. Nothing gave me goose bumps like music.”

She wrote five songs that she put on a self-made album in 2009, including “Racing,” which has garnered some air play on The Bull’s backyard country segment that highlights local musicians. She feels she’s matured as a songwriter over the past year, and has more original songs that she performs live and that can be heard on her MySpace page: www.myspacemusic.com/catherinekimbro.

Kimbro comes from a family of educators — mother Chris is the head counselor at Central and father Mark is the athletic director at Brookwood — but her passion and aptitude for music has made it easy for them to support her choice to bypass college for now.

“We see the passion she has and know what her goal is,” Mark Kimbro said. “The good thing about college is that it’ll be there in a year, be there in two years.

“Everybody we talk to says she has so much potential in both (singing and song writing). When you have potential you have to take a shot.”

Kimbro visits Nashville regularly and has begun co-writing some songs with writers there. She earned a spot in one of the Bluebird Cafe’s famed writers’ nights in late February, performing three songs. Many of the other performers were older, but Kimbro held her own while also receiving sage advice from seasoned performers.

“They’re honest about things,” Kimbro said. “(They say) it’s not easy and sometimes it’s not fun. But if it’s something you want to do, you have to push through it.”

Kimbro takes advantage of her chances to perform, playing fundraisers at local high schools to support everything from Relay For Life to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Helping Hands and Hearts. On Monday, she’s playing at the Harvest Table Restaurant from 11 a.m. to

2 p.m. as part of the city’s Memorial Day celebration.

As always, her family will be there to support her. Her dad and brother Nathaniel, a junior at the University of Georgia, even back her at times, Dad playing bass and Nathaniel guitar. She says that support has allowed her the freedom to walk off that graduation stage tonight in pursuit of a different stage.

“I told (my parents) I didn’t know if I was going to college, but they never criticized me for going off the path,” Kimbro said. “A lot of people aren’t blessed with that kind of thing.”

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.