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KIRK WHALUM: PASTORING THE FLOCK IN MEMPHIS AND BEYOND [JAZZ WEEKLY]

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PLACES LIKE NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES AND NASHVILLE GET THE REPUTATIONS FOR BEING CENTERS OF MUSIC, BUT THE FACT IS THAT MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL CITIES FOR AMERICAN MUSIC, RANKING MAYBE ONLY SECOND TO NYC TO IT’S BREADTH AND WIDTH.

CARE TO DISAGREE? HOW ABOUT IT BEING THE BIRTHPLACE OF WC HANDY? THEN THERE’S THE STORIES OF BEALE STREET THAT ARE LEGENDARY. AS FAR AS ARTISTS, MEMPHIS HAS DELIVERED MORE THAN IT’S SHARE: BB KING, BOBBY ‘BLUE’ BLAND, HANK CRAWFORD, GEORGE COLEMAN, AL GREEN, HOWLIN’ WOLF, ISAAC HAYES, ARETHA FRANKLIN, CHARLES LLOYD, JIMMIE LUNCEFORD AND MEMPHIS SLIM ARE JUST A HANDFUL THAT FIRST COME TO MIND.

NOT TO MENTION, THE LEGENDARY LABEL, STAX RECORDS, WAS FOUNDED HERE AND WAS THE HOME OF ARTISTS THAT CHANGED THE DIRECTION OF MUSIC, BEING ONE OF THE VERY FIRST LABELS TO HAVE INTEGRATED ROCK GROUPS. WITH THE BACKING OF BOOKER T JONES AND THE BAR-KEYS, THE LABEL STARTED THE CAREERS OF SAM & DAVE, EDDIE FLOYD AND A GUY BY THE NAME OF OTIS REDDING.

THEN, YOU’VE GOT SUN RECORDS, WHICH WAS THE FIRST HOME FOR JOHNNY CASH, SAM PERKINS, ELVIS PRESLEY AND JERRY LEE LEWIS. DRY RUB BBQ WAS INVENTED HERE, WITH ‘THE RENDEVOUS’ STILL OPEN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS. THROW IN ELVIS’ HOME OF GRACELAND, AND AL GREEN’S CHURCH WHERE HE HOLDS THE PULPIT, AND YOU’VE GOT JUST ABOUT EVERY SIDE OF LIFE COVERED.

KEEPING AND CONTINUING THE TRADITION, KIRK WHALUM STILL LIVES IN THE CITY WHERE HE WAS BORN. HAVING TOURED AND MAKING FAME WITH WHITNEY HOUSTON DURING HER “I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU” DAYS, HE NOW LIVES THE LIFE OF MIXING SOULFUL JAZZ AND ‘JAZZING UP’ CHURCH SONGS. HIS COLLECTION OF ALBUMS ENTITLED ‘THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JAZZ’ HAS SHOWN WHERE THE SOUL OF JAZZ ACTUALLY BEGAN, WHICH IS THE CHURCH.

HE’S ALSO PARTNERED WITH FRIENDS NORMAN BROWN AND RICK BRAUN FOR A TRIO OF SWINGING ALBUMS. TOGETHER, THEY’VE RECORDED SOUL HITS AND MICHAEL JACKSON MATERIAL THAT FITS THEIR GROOVE. THEIR LATEST ALBUM, ‘BWB’ INCLUDES ORIGINALS THAT ARE TOE TAPPING PIECES OF JOY.

WE RECENTLY CAUGHT UP WITH THE SWINGIN’ REV, AND ASKED HIM TO LET US CATCH UP ON HIS LIFE, AND WHAT THE MEMPHIS LIFE MEANS TO HIM PERSONALLY AND SPIRITUALLY.

HOW ARE THINGS WITH YOU RIGHT NOW?


Read the full piece from: JAZZ WEEKLY

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BWB #: ART7049 RELEASED: 04/22/16