Renowned for his singular combination of robust swing and poetic insight, two-time Grammy Award winner Kurt Elling has secured his place among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. The New York Times has proclaimed Elling, “the standout male vocalist of our time.”
Over a 25-year career of touring and recording, Elling has won three Prix du Jazz Vocal (France), two German Echo Awards, two Dutch Edison Awards and has received 15 Grammy nominations. He has had a 14-year run atop the DownBeat critics and readers polls, and has won 12 Jazz Journalists Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year.
Elling’s voice is instantly recognizable, embracing listeners with his warm, rich baritone and navigating the full span of his four-octave range as a virtuoso improviser and a compelling storyteller. He has recorded and toured with Branford Marsalis, Danilo Pérez, Stefon Harris, Fred Hersch, James Morrison and Charlie Hunter. He has performed extensively with larger ensembles like the Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra (led by Sean Jones), Bob Mintzer Big Band, BBC Concert Symphony (led by Guy Barker), Metropole Orchestra (Holland), Irish Radio and Television Orchestra (led by Brian Byrne), Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the WDR Orchestra and Big Band (Germany).
Elling’s dynamism is enhanced exponentially by the fact that he generates new vocal material by writing and recording signature and definitive lyrics to the compositions of foundational jazz composers like John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. Additionally, Elling has co-created multi-disciplinary performances for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater and the City of Chicago. Jazz at Lincoln Center saw the world premiere of “The Big Blind,” a jazz musical-in-progress Elling is co-writing with collaborator Phil Galdston (“Save the Best for Last”).
Elling has toured the world in a variety of contexts, including UNESCO-sponsored International Jazz Day performances in Havana, Cuba; St. Petersburg, Russia; Melbourne, Australia, and Washington, D.C. He has twice performed at the White House, including a performance in collaboration with the late Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony Orchestra for President Obama’s first state dinner. He has served as artist-in-residence at the Monterey and Singapore jazz festivals. As a music industry leader, Elling spent six years serving as a trustee and two years as vice chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.