Archive for October 25th, 2019

Kirk Whalum – Humanité

Grammy® Award Winner and Global Recording Artist Kirk Whalum is ruminating on exactly when his eyes were opened to the big, beautiful world beyond his cloistered boyhood in Memphis, Tennessee. There, the minister’s son spent most of his time surrounded by family and friends, soaking up the soulful spirituality he found in gospel music in church. But inside, he knew he had the heart of a wanderer.

“I was 19 and I got a scholarship to study in Paris. I lived with a French family for three months,” he says. “It changed my life – my world was essentially blown open. I told my girlfriend Ruby (now his wife), “Baby, we are so gonna live in this place someday.”

It took Kirk a while to make good on that promise. In the early 1980s, he headed to Houston, Texas, where the gifted saxophonist quickly made his mark in the burgeoning nightclub scene. Fusing together elements of gospel, blues and jazz, he developed his distinctive tenor sound – soul-drenched, emotional and always highly melodic.

Kirk made the leap from sideman to bandleader, eventually joining forces with legendary jazz keyboardist Bob James, a touring and recording collaboration that led to five albums, including his first #1 record and a GRAMMY® nomination. From there, it was off to Los Angeles, where he became an in-demand session player for top artists including Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Quincy Jones and most notably, Whitney Houston.
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