Editor's Note, Jan. 4: Memorial service information has been added into this tribute.
So now they want to clip his precious wings and bring him down
But in his heart and soul's the kind of good they can't destroy
So now I wanna see him fly, fly
I'll be your alibi, my baby
Fly, fly, fly away
We didn't get to say goodbye, goodbye
No need to tell me why, my baby
Maybe it's because you'll fly back home to me one day
These simple words were the poignant lyrics sung by Jeff Kinman at his last public performance in May of 2012. It was his eighth time participating in Broadway Our Way, an annual fundraiser held by Uptown Players. He had been battling Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) for many years and was beginning the downward slope of his illness. He appeared weak and a bit gaunt, but when he opened his mouth and began to sing, the audience thought of nothing but his beautiful performance. He withdrew from the public eye shortly after to battle his illness in private.
Jeff took his last breath a few short months later in the early hours of Dec. 28, 2012. He was surrounded by friends and family. He spent the last two weeks of his life wrapped in love and comfort at Legacy Founders Cottage in Oak Cliff. He was 47 years old.
Jeff was known far and wide in the Dallas theater community for his soaring tenor voice and his perfectionist approach, which always guaranteed a beautiful performance. He was also a renowned voice teacher, having reached the dream of opening his very own Vocal Studio in 2011.
Jeff had a knack for sarcasm and a reputation for a no-nonsense approach to everything around him. He was honest and direct, with a heart of pure gold. He had a dry sense of humor that was matched with a feisty wit, and he topped it all off with impeccable taste.
Jeff received critical acclaim for many of his performances in the area, including his role as "Buddy" in Uptown Players' Rabin Award-winning production of The Last Session and as "The Minister" in A New Brain. He performed regularly with Uptown Players, Lyric Stage, Theatre Three, Theatre Arlington, Flower Mound Performing Arts Theatre and many other venues. He was an active member of Actors' Equity Association.
He met his partner of nine years, local Music Director and Composer Adam C. Wright, when they both worked on a cabaret hosted by Uptown Players at After Dark on Cedar Springs in 2003. During their relationship, they embarked on many projects in the area, including the acclaimed run of Into the Woods at Richardson Theatre Center, and writing the musical A Taste of Beauty along with John de los Santos, which was featured at the Uptown Players' Inaugural Pride Performing Arts Festival. Jeff and Adam lived in the Turtle Creek area of Dallas.
The memorial service honoring Jeff Kinman will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd., Dallas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Jeff's honor to Legacy Founders Cottage. www.legacycares.org
Please share your memories of Jeff in the comments section, below the videos, at the end of this story.
◊ The lyrics at the top are from the song "Fly, Fly Away" from the musical Catch Me If You Can.
◊ Cover photo of Jeff Kinman by Mark Oristano
◊ Here is audio of Jeff Kinman singing the song "Going At It Alone" from The Last Session:
◊ Here is a video of him singing the Jason Robert Brown song "Moving Too Fast" at Bill's Hideaway Club, with Adam C. Wright on piano:
◊ And here is a video of (from left) Philip Bentham, Amy Stevenson, Jeff Kinman and Kelly Holmes singing "Hear My Song" from Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World at Mama's Party in 2010.