The Christian Broadcasting Network

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Latest: The Gospel According to Jazz Chapter IV (2014)

Grammy winner (2011, Best Gospel Song, It’s What I Do, featuring Lalah Hathaway)

12 Grammy nominations

2 Stellar Awards

Best Instrumental

1 Dove Christian (Jazz) Award

20+ Albums including The Gospel According to Jazz, ChaptersI-IV, Hymns in the Garden (2001), Romance Language (2011)

2008 Music City Walk of Fame Inductee (Nashville)

Notable performances include:

Lyon, France for Pope John Paul, III (with French artist Jean Michelle Jarre)

Johannesburg, S. Africa for former president Nelson Mandela

Both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations


Guest Bio

The Gospel According to Jazz


In addition to his work in music and ministry, Kirk has a passion to educate young, aspiring musicians. He currently serves as Volunteer Creative Officer of the STAX Music Academy. The Stax Music Academy inspires young people and enhances their academic, cognitive, performance, and leadership skills by utilizing music with an intense focus on the rich legacy and tradition of Stax Records.

SMA serves approximately 100 high school and middle school students during its SNAP! After School program during the school year and approximately 60 high school students during its 4-week SNAP! Summer Music Experience. Ensembles include Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section, StreetCorner Harmonies, Soulsville Jazz Ensemble and Premier Percussionists.SMA has served more than 2,500 students. Students have performed for Oprah Winfrey, Isaac Hayes, Mavis Staples, Bono of U2, Stevie Wonder, Bill Clinton, and other celebrities and dignitaries.


This award-winning series that was launched with the initial The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter I in
1998 has transformed the concept of sharing the “gospel truth” through instrumental music. Each of the subsequent releases has ascended the Jazz and Gospel charts garnering critical acclaim and award nominations, with It’s What I Do from The Gospel According to Jazz Chapter 3 taking home the Grammy for Best Gospel Song in 2011.

The Gospel According to Jazz Chapter 4 musically explores the convergence of jazz and gospel infused with rhythm and blues, through a "docu-music concert" DVD and live-recorded double CD with musical messages of tribute, tragedy and triumph — musically illustrating God’s radical hospitality. It’s an invitation to pause, hear, and “see” in a fresh, prescient way, but above all, it is a tribute album in a uniquely gospel-centric way. Honored here are heads of state (Mandela), departed and greatly respected and loved artists (George Duke, Wayman Tisdale, and John Coltrane), alongside mothers, and a homeless woman Whalum came to call friend (“Nannette”). Beyond that, the Father who made them and Christ who saved them are honored as well. In myriad ways, the gospel’s welcome is declared and displayed with eloquence and power.


Kirk grew up as a preacher’s son and was immersed in Gospel music and preaching before he could walk or talk.  At 12, he went to a Baptist youth camp to meet girls but instead encountered the Lord.  Three years later, Kirk met his future wife at this same Bible camp and they were married when he was 22.  Kirk formed his own band in college and played the Texas club circuit.  After opening for Bob Jones, a pianist, in Houston, he was invited to New York to appear on Bob’s album.  Soon Kirk was signed to Columbia and released 5 albums for the label.  He also served as an integral part of Whitney Houston’s road band, doubling as chaplain and weekly Bible teacher.  One of the highlights of his career was playing Amazing Grace on stage with Whitney in Johannesburg before a combined live/video audience of 12 million people. 

For years, Kirk resisted doing a Gospel album as he felt he was called as sort of “stealth” to the secular industry.  If he did a Gospel album, he would be turning off the device that made him invisible to radar.  Then in 1992, Kirk heard a sermon about Jesus turning water into wine and Mary telling the servants, “Whatever he says, do it.”  At that moment, Kirk realized he is a minister and preacher; he just so happens to play the sax.

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