Shaped by his Memphis Gospel roots, he shaped his tone through work in the Houston nightclubs in the early 80’s. He initially became known as a sideman and session player with such artists as Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Larry Carlton, Quincy Jones, and others. He formed his own band in the 1980’s and has won many awards, including a Grammy in 2011.
Inspired by his faith, Kirk became an ordained minister and earned a Masters of Art in Religion. He serves his community in many ways, including his daily podcast, BIYE (Bible In Your Ear).
In addition to his 25 solo recordings, he is also a part of the popular soul/jazz group, BWB: Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown.
We talked about:
- Kirk’s thoughts on notoriety
- How his faith plays a part in his career
- How to play soulfully
- The big lessons learned working for Whitney Houston that can help you as a side person
- His current set up, and why he changed it a year ago
- What Kirk recommends every saxophone player work on
You can follow Kirk here: