*Los Angeles, Calif. –TheGRAMMY® Museumwill welcome GRAMMY® Award-winner and global recording artistKirk Whalumfor an intimate conversation on the making of his latest album, Humanité, moderated by GRAMMY® Museum Artistic Director,Scott Goldmanon January 14.
The program will also include a live performance from Whalum, as well as a preview of his new documentary film created in companion with the album: Humanité: The Beloved Community.
Before headlining as a solo artist, saxophonist Kirk Whalum was a session player for top artists including Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Quincy Jones and most notably, Whitney Houston, in which Whalum’s solo on Houston’s mega-hit “I Will Always Love You” made his sound familiar to untold millions. He spent seven years touring the world with the late superstar.
Humanité: The Beloved Community is Whalum’s new feature-length documentary made in conjunction with his latest album, Humanité. The film and album, woven from the words, stories and original melodies of the diverse cast of international artists featured on the album, channels the ethos of civil rights in a raw and compassionate tale of harmony in a divisive world.
The album was produced by Kirk’s longtime friend, producer, British jazz trumpeter and session musician, James McMillan. Over a period of three months in 2018, Kirk and James recorded the soul-drenched, emotional and highly melodic tracks in locations ranging from studios in Jakarta, Tokyo, Paris, Nairobi, Johannesburg and Hastings, to hotel rooms, office buildings and even Kirk’s living room in his hometown, Memphis, Tenn.
Collaborators on the album include Japanese jazz pianist Keiko Matsui; the young bass phenomenon Barry Likumahuwa, gifted singer/songwriter Grace Sahertian and global pop star singer/actor Afgan, all hailing from Indonesia; soulful singer/jazz guitarist Andréa Lisa from New Zealand; superstar vocalist/guitarist Zahara from South Africa; iconic jazz bassist Marcus Miller from Brooklyn, NY; top percussionistKasiva Mutwa of Nairobi; and Liane Carroll, long considered by cognoscenti to be the UK’s premier female jazz voice.
“I kept bumping into these amazing artists from all over the world and I wanted to make some crazy music with them and prove this point – that we are all one,” said Kirk. “That’s the DNA of it. Like we say in the artwork, ‘With one voice, sometimes with words, we speak.’ This is the essential reality of being a world musician.”
Standout tracks that showcase the album’s harmonious mix of American jazz, blues, funk and pop, along with global indigenous musical forms, abound on Humanité and include the high velocity fusion track, “Korogocho,” featuring jazz master bass player Marcus Miller in a death-defying duel with young Indonesian bass sharp-shooter Barry Likumahuwa; a silky ballad about the power of education and enlightenment, “Wake Up Everybody,” featuring Indonesian superstar, Afgan; and the uplifting, gorgeous contemporary jazz/R&B track and debut single, “Get Your Wings Up,” featuring guitarist/vocalist Andréa Lisa.
Kirk was just nine years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis just blocks away from the Whalum family home. That shattering event shaped young Kirk’s worldview. But rather than turn him cynical, as he grew older his spiritual upbringing led him to embrace Dr. King’s vision of “The Beloved Community.” This message is the ethos of Humanité – the greater good inherent in all of global humanity will lead to a society based on justice, civil rights and love of one’s fellow humans, and an insatiable curiosity about the exquisitely unique musical offerings from each and every corner of our global common-unity.
About Kirk Whalum
Forged from his Memphis, TN gospel roots and the thriving Houston, TX music scene in his early career, Kirk Whalum’s big, rich tenor saxophone sound is unmistakably his. It was in Houston where jazz pianist Bob James “discovered” Kirk and brought him on tour, which led to five successful albums with Columbia Records, including Cache, Kirk’s first No. 1 album. Kirk became an in-demand session player for top artists such as Barbra Streisand, Luther Vandross, 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 Warner Bros. Records album, For You, one of his most successful of over 25 solo recordings to date; others include his eclectic Gospel According to Jazz series, (Chapters I, II, III, IV). Kirk is the recipient of numerous awards and acknowledgements for his musical excellence, including three Dove Award nominations, an NAACP Image Award nomination, and Stellar Awards. A twelve-time Grammy® nominee, Kirk won his first Grammy® Award for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do” featuring Lalah Hathaway) alongside life-long friend and gifted writer, Jerry Peters, who also penned the timeless “Goin’ In Circles” for Friends of Distinction.