I met Brielle Kimmins about 10 years ago in Rittenhouse Square. She was on the corner, playing her flute, being a social butterfly. I liked her look and took her photo. Brielle was the first person featured in my “Street Style” column for the Philadelphia Daily News, back when I was Philly’s own Bill Cunningham, bike and all.
We got to know each other. She told me who her dad was … Of course I knew him: C.B. Kimmins, the steadfast West Philly anti-violence activist — a legend, an icon. I remember him out there with the bullhorn and the hard hat, how he effected change wherever he went, especially in the Mantua area. What he did, what he stood for, is amazing. (Kimmins died in 2020.)
Brielle is a living spirit. When she told me she was moving to L.A. seven years ago, she said she had to break ground out there, and I said, Go for it. That’s been my thing with Brielle: Telling her: Go for it. On the West Coast, she worked on “finding my own voice, identifying myself outside of my dad’s light,” she says. She stayed for four years.
A couple of years ago, we found each other again, again in Rittenhouse. She was having dinner with her friend, an actor from Insecure, at Parc. I was there with friends and my lady. Brielle and I didn’t miss a beat. She calls me, and I’m there. I need a model; she’s there. She and her girlfriend were my guests at Philly Fashion Week. I styled them both. When Brielle arrived, she stayed in the car, nervous about her avant garde outfit. She called me up and I said, Get in here.
Brielle has legendary godmothers: Phyllis Hyman and Natalie Cole. This is where she gets her musical side from. Me being an avid thrift shopper, I find things for her to channel both of their iconic looks. I style her. When Brielle performs (as AprilFoolChild), everybody In the audience is like, Where did you get that? Who styled you?
Building her own legend
Today, C.B. Kimmins’ daughter is writing her own path; it’s a beautiful thing. She’s bringing back her father’s mission, mentoring students in West and North Philly schools through Sen. Vincent Hughes’s program, See Me — Imagine YOU. Sen. Hughes is also behind an upcoming mural of C.B. Kimmins in Mantua by Mural Arts fellow Shanina Dionna. Brielle is raising her 11-year-old son. She’s finishing a degree in music business, getting ready to go to law school to become an entertainment lawyer.
Last fall, under her artist name AprilFoolChild, she released her first album, Lost in Translation.
I went straight from a Phillies playoff game to the release party at Dahlak. Brielle has a beautiful voice; her lyrics are not like everybody else’s. The party was an eclectic mix of people, everyone was paying full attention. An overpouring of love was there for her. You couldn’t even walk around. It was all her voice, no background music, just her beautiful voice. I’d been standing for 10 hours prior, but I couldn’t sit. Her music was uplifting me, and I’m standing up, cheering her on.
West Philly born and raised with a slosh of Brooklyn New York in between, Big Rube partnered with Mitchell & Ness in 2000 to help make it a global brand marketing and selling high-end vintage jerseys. He has been photographing Philly since 2009, including in a Daily News Column from 2011 to 2017. He’s also a chef, operating Chef Big Rube’s Kitchen seven days a week at Pitcher’s Pub in Manayunk, selling the best handmade food in a Main Street dive bar.
MORE FROM BIG RUBE’S PHILLYBrielle Kimmins performing as AprilFoolChild