GRAMMY winner Kurt Elling is among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. He won the DownBeat Critics Poll for fourteen consecutive years and was named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association on eight occasions. An international jazz award winner, he has also been GRAMMY nominated a dozen times.
Elling’s rich baritone spans four octaves and features both astonishing technical mastery
and emotional depth. His repertoire includes original compositions and modern
interpretations of standards, all of which are springboards for inspired improvisation,
scatting, spoken word, and poetry.
The New York Times declared, “Elling is the standout male vocalist of our time.” The
Washington Post added, “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.”
Elling was the Artist-in-Residence for the Singapore and Monterey Jazz Festivals. He has
also written multi-disciplinary works for The Steppenwolf Theatre and the City of
Chicago. The Obama Administration’s first state dinner featured Elling in a command
Elling is a renowned artist of vocalese—the writing and performing of words over
recorded improvised jazz solos. The natural heir to jazz pioneers Eddie Jefferson, King
Pleasure and Jon Hendricks, Elling has set his own lyrics to the improvised solos of
Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. He often incorporates images and
references from writers such as Rilke, Rumi, Neruda and Proust into his work. The late
poet and Bollingen Prize winner Robert Creeley wrote, “Kurt Elling takes us into a world
of sacred particulars. His words are informed by a powerful poetic spirit.” Said Robert
Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States, “In Kurt Elling’s art, the voice of jazz
gives a new spiritual presence to the ancient, sweet and powerful bond between poetry
Kurt Elling has toured vigorously throughout his career, thrilling audiences throughout
the world. In that time he has led his own ensemble and has collaborated with many of
the world’s finest orchestras.
Passion World, Kurt Elling’s latest recording, culminates nearly five years of collecting
and honing songs – and in some cases writing new lyrics – that express love, romance
and heartbreak around the world. Throughout his travels, Elling has observed how deeply
felt passions are shaped in countless ways by each unique culture. Those insights have
guided the creation of Passion World, a tour-de-force project that is vibrant with
diversity, celebrating what makes us all human. In concert Elling tells rich stories about
the history and context of each of these songs to sweep you away on a grand tour of
exotic places, cultures and times. Passion World is a musical magic carpet taking you on
a fascinating journey through the realms of romance.
"Elling is the standout male vocalist of our time."
"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."
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Jazz St. Louis is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to lead our community in advancing the uniquely American art of jazz through live performance, education and community engagement.