About Kurt Elling
Chicago-based vocalist Kurt Elling is one of the most acclaimed figures in jazz. His voice, rich and bold, is always interesting, and his musical ideas emerge fully formed on record and in person. His constant goal is to do something new in vocal jazz, and this often leads to exciting results for his ensemble and his fans. His name appears on Downbeat polls and Grammy nomination lists nearly every year.
Elling was born and raised in Northern Illinois, and his early musical experiences occurred at church and in school. While attending Gustavus Adolphus University in St. Peter, MN, Elling became interested in jazz while working on a history degree. Upon his return to Chicago, he began singing in clubs while working on a graduate degree. His weekly appearances at the Green Mill gained regional interest in his work. He decided to pursue vocal jazz just short of finishing his degree, and quickly landed a recording contract with Blue Note. He released six albums over eight years with Blue Note, each of them receiving a Grammy nomination.
Lately the awards have been stacking up for Elling: he has won the DownBeat Critics Poll 14 times in a row, the Jazz Journalists Association Male Singer of the Year Award six times, and he recently received the Nightlife Award for Outstanding Jazz Vocalist in a Major Engagement. After eight nominations, he earned the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. The winning album, “Dedicated to You,” was inspired by the classic 1963 recording “John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman” featuring the legendary saxophonist and jazz vocalist.
Kurt is touring in support of his latest recording, 1619 Broadway: the Brill Building Project. The Brill Building, described by the London Telegraph as “the most important generator of popular songs in the Western world,” applied the concept of professional songwriters to popular music. Elling pays homage to the classic songwriting teams of Lieber and Stoller (“Stand By Me”), Goffen and King (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”), Mann and Weil (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”), Bacharach and David (“Walk On By”), and other incredible songs created at the Brill Building.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“He is the standout male vocalist of our time.” - New York Times
“Since the mid-1990s, no singer in jazz has been as daring, dynamic, or interesting as Kurt Elling. With his soaring vocal flights, his edgy lyrics and sense of being on a musical mission, he has come to embody the creative spirit in jazz.” -Washington Post