Kirk Whalum

Soulful, passionate, stirring…these are the words most often used to describe Kirk Whalum’s music. Forged from his Memphis, (TN) gospel roots and his 1980‘s initiation into the thriving Houston, TX nightclub scene, Kirk’s big, rich tenor sound is unmistakably his. It was in Houston where jazz pianist Bob James “discovered” him and brought him on tour, which led to five successful albums with Columbia Records, including Cache, Kirk’s first #1 album. Kirk and Bob also received a Grammy nomination for their collaboration album, Joined at the Hip. After moving to Los Angeles, Kirk became an in demand session player for top artists like, Barbara Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Larry Carlton, Quincy Jones and most notably, Whitney Houston, amongst many others. It’s his sax heard on the mega-hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Kirk soon followed that career high point with his hit album For You, perhaps the most successful of over 25 solo recordings to date; others include his eclectic, and much lauded, Gospel According to Jazz series, (Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4). In addition to his many solo projects, Kirk is a member of the popular soul/jazz group, BWB, which features Kirk as the “W” of the group with Rick Braun (trumpet) and Norman Brown (guitar). An ordained minister, Kirk has earned a Masters of Art in Religion. It’s in this spirit that he serves his community in various ways when his touring schedule allows.  A twelve time Grammy nominee, Kirk won his first Grammy award (2011) for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do”––featuring Lalah Hathaway, also sailing with us on The Smooth Jazz Cruise) alongside life-long friend and gifted songwriter, Jerry Peters.