A naturally gifted singer, blessed with a word-for-word perfect recall for song lyrics, Kim Willoughby was 18 years old when her flatmates asked her to be the singer in their band The Gurlz. By saying yes to their proposal, a successful career in music, dance, acting and entertainment unfurled.
Kim signed up for the Supervised Performing Arts Training Scheme run out of TVNZ and led by Sir Howard Morrison. Her time was cut short when she was talent-scouted for Billy T James’s television show. Kim picked up her acting experience on the job in her roles on the Billy T James Show and her on-screen charm was magnetic, leading her to be cast in the seminal 1986 film, Queen City Rocker.
Kim met Annie Crummer during a performance on the TVNZ show Hui Pacific, the duo becoming in-demand vocalists for many groups of the era, notably both featuring on Netherworld Dancing Toys’ much-loved anthem, ‘For Today’.
Having already formed friendships with Debbie, Margaret & Annie, Kim was then drafted into When The Cat’s Away. Originally intended to be a side-project, the band caught everyone by surprise when it became a bone fide cultural phenomenon, selling out nationwide tours for years and establishing the singers as household names.
In 1987 the group released signature tune ‘Melting Pot’ to promote their summer tour. The song peaked at #1 and stayed in the charts for 15 weeks. During the summer of 88-89, they performed to 100,000 people across New Zealand, winning Best Group at the 1989 Aotearoa Music Awards.
Kim took time out from performing in the 90s to raise a family, re-emerging in 2001 for a Cats reunion, and once again, selling out shows up and down the country. A live album of the tour reinforced Aotearoa’s love of the group, with Platinum-certified sales and a Top 10 chart position.
In 2008 Kim branched out as a radio host on Hawke’s Bay Classic Hits, as well as voiceover and MC work before returning to gigging with her band which features members of fellow Hall of Famers, Hello Sailor.
It is with great pleasure that we induct and welcome Kim Willoughby into the NZ Music Hall of Fame | Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa.