WCSU

Artist Profiles - Saxophonist Kirk Whalum

Kirk Whalum is a jazz saxophonist and songwriter. Born July 11, 1958 in Memphis, Tennessee, he attended Melrose High School and Texas Southern University where he was a member of the World Famous Ocean of Soul Marching Band.

In 1986, he performed at Jean Michel Jarre's giant concerts Rendez-Vous Houston and Rendez-Vous Lyon. At each concert, he performed the track "Last Rendez-Vous", also known as "Ron's Piece", in honor of astronaut Ron McNair, who died in the Challenger disaster. Whalum has worked on a number of film scores, including those for Boyz n the Hood and The Bodyguard. He toured with Whitney Houston for more than seven years and soloed in her single "I Will Always Love You”.

Whalum has recorded a series of well received solo albums. He won his first Grammy award in 2011 for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do”, featuring Lalah Hathaway) alongside lifelong friend and gifted writer, Jerry Peters. On June 20, 2014, Whalum was the inaugural Jazz Legend honoree of the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee. In September 2015, it was announced that Whalum would be joining the faculty of Visible Music College in Memphis, Tennessee.