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Kirk Whalum
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Kirk Whalum Biography

Johannesburg is a long way from Kirk's hometown of Memphis, TN. Having grown up a "pastor's kid," it's not surprising to learn that Kirk's warm, melodic sound was birthed in the Baptist church. Born into a musical family, Kirk first expressed his interest in music on the drums, switching to saxophone in Jr. High School when he was "impressed" with the shininess of the sax. Kirk began playing local functions and clubs while still in high school. A music scholarship brought him to Texas Southern University in Houston, beginning his road to musical maturity. "I became enthralled by the "Texas Tenor" sound and was able to spend many years gleaning from Arnett Cobb one of the fathers of that "big" Texas sound." Kirk released five records while signed to Columbia, the first in 1985, Floppy Disk, introduced the still frequently requested tune, "Kyle's Smiles" written for Kirk's yet-to-be-born, son Kyle. But it was the 1995 release of Cache that put Kirk on the charts. That CD went to #1 and remained there for five weeks. Other releases on that label include And You Know That! The Promise and In This Life. Though Kirk had achieved recognition and respect with the success of his previous releases, the 1998 release of For You cemented Kirk's place on the Smooth Jazz Charts. For You has been Kirk's best selling CD to date and rendered four top ten hits for Kirk. It remained on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts for over 65 weeks and was TOP TEN on the charts for 53 weeks! In 2002 Kirk released the critically acclaimed Gospel According to Jazz Chapter II (on CD & DVD), which blends old-fashioned gospel with jazz styles ranging from "cool-jazz? to salsa and all points in between. Kirk's other release that year was a collaboration project with fellow WB label mates guitarist Norman Brown and trumpeter Rick Braun. The group is called BWB and the album is entitled Groovin'. This project quickly rose to the top of the Smooth Jazz charts and dominated Smooth Jazz radio for several months. Kirk signed with RENDEZVOUS ENTERTAINMENT in 2005 and released his first album for them to critical praise and acclaim. Kirk says that he wanted to pay tribute to one of the world's most prolific, contemporary songwriters. His current album for RENDEZVOUS will be released late summer 2007 and is entitled, ROUNDTRIP. Kirk explains the concept behind Roundtrip: "Ever since my album of covers For You (1998) became the best seller of my career, I came to the realization that people love it when you interpret melodies they know and love. So, I decided to alternate between records of covers and originals. For my new CD, I thought, 'Why not cover myself?' So I went back to the beginning and included some of my "hits" from the Texas jazz club days that had never been recorded. I also put a fresh spin on some of my early releases such as, The Wave and Afterthought." Fans are eagerly awaiting the recording and release of Gospel According to Jazz Chapter lll, which will be recorded in '07 and will again feature a DVD. Impressive would, indeed, sum up Kirk's career, but if you asked him, he would simply say, "it's grace."

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