Mimi Knowles: This boy is on fire

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Provo musician, Mimi Knowles finishes a show at the Velour in Provo. Knowles won a bracket-style competition to open for Carrie Underwood in this year's Stadium of Fire. (Jake Bunjer)
Provo musician, Mimi Knowles finishes a show at the Velour in Provo. Knowles won a bracket-style competition to open for Carrie Underwood in this year’s Stadium of Fire. (Jake Bunjer)

Not literally, but he is opening this year’s Stadium of Fire in front of more than 40,000 people.

From his wild stage presence to his adventurous style, Mimi Knowles knows how to make a statement. Since December, Knowles has released two popular singles, played with Boyz II Men, started a rapidly expanding fashion line and won a competition to open the 2014 Stadium of Fire this Fourth of July.

It may seem like Knowles has risen to the top of the Provo music scene in a whirlwind, but he has been playing in the area for quite some time and has loved music all his life.

Knowles’ stage name, “Mimi,” has been his lifelong nickname. He was born Michel Knowles in the small town of Machias, Maine. Knowles’ French Canadian mother wanted to give him a traditional French Canadian name. Because Michel translates to a common girl name in the American dialect, Knowles chose to adopted his nickname “Mimi” from a young age.

“My Grandmother picked me up when I was born and was like, ‘Oh Mimi!'” Knowles said.

He moved to Provo to attend BYU and get to know his siblings better before serving a mission in Italy.

Knowles was in a number of bands after returning from his mission, but it wasn’t until this past year that he decided he wanted to seriously pursue music as his profession.

Mimi Knowles, Provo musician and fashion designer is expanding his audience and opening this years Stadium of Fire. Knowles' music ranges from jazz to hip hop to pop. (Photo courtesy Mimi Knowles)
Mimi Knowles, Provo musician and fashion designer is expanding his audience and opening this years Stadium of Fire. Knowles’ music ranges from jazz to hip hop to pop. (Photo courtesy Mimi Knowles)

Provo is home to many bands, but Knowles has been able to make his performances stand out.

Mimi’s live show is unreal. He is so fun and energetic on stage, and that energy is contagious,” said Ashley Hess, a local musician who has played with Knowles in the past. “Mimi is one of my favorite artists to play with, not only because I get to perform with him, but because I then get to experience his live show from the audience, and it’s nothing short of a party.”

The music Knowles sings and writes stands out in a distinct way. It is difficult to peg Knowles in just one genre, as his music pulls from many, ranging from jazz, to hip hop, to pop. Knowles’ music has become popular even among local artists.

“(His music is) so … good,” Hess said. “Seriously, that kid has soul oozing from his pores.”

One of the many factors that have contributed to Knowles’ success is his fan base. Social media has made it possible for him to reach out to his fans on a personal level and develop a community around his music.

“I have a lot of fans through Twitter, and I’ll just tweet at them and get to know them,” Knowles said. “I try to make my fans my friends, and that helps a lot with our relationship.”

Knowles’ genuine desire to connect with people who love his music has become a great asset. Kat Wolf, a Provo resident working in marketing and promotion, first met Knowles on the set of a music video shoot, where they struck up an instant friendship.

What sets Mimi apart is that he is genuine. Everything about him is just real,” Wolf said. “From the way he cares about his band members all the way down to his appreciation for his supporters.”

In a recent contest Wolf went to great lengths, just like many other fans, to help Knowles win. She spent hours sending private messages to strangers on Twitter, requesting that they vote for Mimi because she felt so strongly about Knowles and his music.

“He knows how to have fun, and he spreads a positive vibe to everyone around him,” Wolf said. 

One of the benefits of having an open relationship with fans is that Knowles gets to hear firsthand what they want. Recently a fan posted on Knowles’ Facebook wall to say that she wanted a tank top with his lyrics “I don’t sweat, I just glisten” on it.

“I was like, awesome. I said okay, and we ran it,” Knowles said. “That was two and a half weeks ago, and now we have just one tank left.”

Knowles and his stylist, Tara Brooke, who is also one of his best friends, have since released another line of shirts under the brand name M1M1K.

Brooke, a popular blogger who goes by Miss Tara Brooke, has been instrumental in the formation of this line. While many artists struggle to express their voice through a new medium, Knowles says creating a collection with Brooke has been a pain-free process.

“He and I have the same view that style is a form of expression and the clothing you wear gives you a voice,” Brooke said. “Mimi definitely has a voice that he expresses through his style.”

The clothing Knowles and Brooke have created together already has excited fans, who have posted pictures of themselves wearing the designs across many forms of social media and have expressed a desire for more clothing. Knowles and Brooke already have additional collections in the works.

Knowles is rising fast and has no intention of slowing down. When asked where he sees himself in 10 years he had an answer ready: “A couple Grammys and a world tour.”

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