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Forged from his Memphis gospel roots and his 1980s initiation into the thriving Houston nightclub scene, Kirk Whalum’s big, rich tenor sound is unmistakable. The 80s were highlighted by Kirk’s stepping out of his blossoming sideman role and forming his own band. He soon became “the” opening act for national artists touring in Houston, where jazz pianist Bob James “discovered” him and brought him on tour, which led to five successful albums with Columbia Records. He later received a GRAMMY nomination for the collaboration album, Joined at the Hip.
After moving to Los Angeles, Whalum became an in-demand session player for top artists including Barbara Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Larry Carlton, Quincy Jones, and Whitney Houston. His subsequent album, For You, soon followed, along with 25 other solo recordings including his eclectic Gospel According to Jazz series.
An ordained minister, Whalum recently earned his Masters of Art in Religion. It is in this spirit that he serves his community. He can frequently be found performing at nursing homes and schools as well as serving at Manna House, a place of radical hospitality for the homeless. In addition to music and the ministry, Whalum is dedicated to educating young, aspiring musicians and was recently appointed CEO/President of the STAX Music Academy and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music in his hometown of Memphis, TN.
Whalum has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for his musical excellence including a GRAMMY Award for Best Gospel Song, two Dove Award nominations and two Stellar Awards, Gospel music’s highest honor. His recent releases include The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter 3 (double CD & DVD) and Everything is Everything-the Music of Donny Hathaway (all available on Mack Ave. Records). In a career spanning decades, Kirk Whalum’s sound continues to leave an indelible imprint on the listener.