Kurt Elling

Born 2 November 1967.
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Kurt Elling - Stephen Duffy Interview

Stephen Duffy interviews Grammy-winning singer Kurt Elling.

Featured in BBC Music Clips


Kurt Elling (born November 2, 1967) is an American jazz vocalist, composer, lyricist and vocalese performer. Born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Rockford, Elling first became interested in music through his father, who was Kapellmeister at a Lutheran church. Growing up, Elling sang in choirs and played various musical instruments, but was not exposed to jazz until he attended Gustavus Adolphus College. Elling enrolled in graduate school at the University of Chicago Divinity School, but left school one credit short of a master's degree to pursue a career as a jazz vocalist.

Elling began to perform around Chicago, scat singing and improvising his own lyrics. He recorded a demo in the early 1990s and was signed by Blue Note Records, releasing a total of six albums with the label. He has been nominated for ten Grammy Awards, winning Best Vocal Jazz Album for Dedicated to You (2009) on the Concord Jazz label. Elling often leads the Down Beat critics poll, and he was awarded the Prix Billie Holiday from the Académie du Jazz. Since 1995, Elling has collaborated with pianist, composer, and arranger Laurence Hobgood, leading a quartet that regularly tours the world.

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of 1619 Broadway: Brill Building Project

    1619 Broadway: Brill Building Project 2012

    Reviewed by Martin Longley
    Elling’s individualist vocal reinterpretations are well worth hearing.
  2. Review of The Gate

    The Gate 2011

    Reviewed by Kathryn Shackleton
    Another potential Grammy-winner from the jazz vocalist.
  3. Review of Dedicated To You

    Dedicated To You 2009

    Reviewed by Kathryn Shackleton
    Out of a set of American Songbook tunes, Elling's created another original.
  4. Review of Nightmoves

    Nightmoves 2007

    Reviewed by Kathryn Shackleton
    You can’t help but dig it!
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