Stylist to the stars

Name: John Grimes

Hometown: La Plata, MD

Current Town: Whites Creek, TN

Experience: I started styling hair professionally in Nashville 17 years ago. I opened Ambiance Hair Studio here in the late 90's which was a passion of mine until I moved to Los Angeles in 2006 to expand my resume and skills at Prive salon, focusing on entertainment related clientele. I returned to Nashville full-time a few years later and currently work for myself at The Look Salon off Elliston Place as a colorist and stylist, in addition to freelance work traveling to New York and Los Angeles.

List of celebrity clients: Faith Hill, Jewel, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paula Abdul, Kristin Chenoweth, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Goodwin, Teri Hatcher, Jordan Sparks, George Lopez, Virginia Madson, Bo Bice, Lorrie Morgan, Suzy Bogguss, Tanya Tucker, Kathy Mattea, Terri Clark, Michael W. Smith, Point of Grace.

Favorite experience working with a musician: That's a tough one! The first time I worked with Paula Abdul and Kristin Chenoweth I had an instant connection. That's very rare in an industry where celebrities are usually more guarded and slower to build a relationship with. Paula and Kristin are both so bubbly and friendly, just "good people!" It makes my work not feel like work.

Most rewarding part of your job: I feel most rewarded working with my everyday clients who have been so loyal and good to me. Ive learned to be a good listener over the years. Some days I feel more like a therapist than a stylist. There's nothing better than witnessing a full-life transformation of a client that was sparked by the "new look" they left with. It's very fufilling to have a part in helping to build ones' self esteem, as I know how it can feel to struggle with self-confidence growing up gay.

What's your take on the acceptance of gays in the music industry?

Personally, I have always felt fortunate that I can be myself around my clients. Generally speaking, I believe that creative people appreciate the diversity around them and respect the importance of how "we" play a part in their success as well. There are a lot of genuine, loving, non-judgmental folks I have come to know in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, I do feel that in working with country music, that comfort level stays private behind the salon door. I really admire Kathy Mattea for publicly drawing attention to the AIDS epidemic in 1992 at the CMA awards, despite the Country Music Association's wish to steer clear of any controversy. A couple years later she headed the creation of Red Hot + Country, an album to raise funds for AIDS education. Twenty years later, I wish that more country artists would have followed suit in efforts to gain acceptance, not just tolerance, for gay and lesbian individuals. I hope to one day be able to use the connections and relationships I have made in the music business to further a movement towards unconditional love for all mankind, despite one's sexual orientation.

Grimes is the owner of James Gang Company, an entertainment venue in Whites Creek. For listings of their music and GLBT-related events, visit JamesGangCompany.com.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

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