Having performed and recorded with some of music’s most talented people, in 2002 Kevin Whalum set out to stake his own claim as an artist with his debut release, “Timetable.” Self-written and produced, it received critical acclaim from several entities, not the least of which was “My Favorite CD of 2003” by Chris Rizik, owner of Soultracks.com.
His sophomore release, “One Life to Love” goes even deeper inside the man whose music was already substantive. At once soulful, funky, clever, and jazzy, “One Life…” lets one feel the grooves that have been missing from mainstream radio far too long. “WonderMaze”, a tribute to the groove-laden songs of two of his musical heroes, Stevie Wonder and Frankie Beverly, takes us on a brief trip back to the summer music festivals of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Take a moment to remember the best concert/picnic you ever attended…got it? Ok, that feeling you have now is what “WonderMaze” inspires. Blending styles as varied as Frankie Beverly and James Taylor, Kevin doesn’t miss his self-imposed mark of staying true to his Memphis roots.
“I grew up listening to EVERYTHING!” he exclaims. “The thing that makes me who I am, though, is the music I listened to growing up in Memphis. Everyone from Graham Central Station to Al Jarreau came through Memphis on a regular basis. Aretha Franklin and the White brothers (Maurice, Verdine, & Freddie) of Earth, Wind, and Fire were born there. Bill Withers’ and Al Green’s music was ever-present. We had it all…and it all taught me how to FEEL music. Anyone who doesn’t respond to the foot pats and the guitar line at the beginning of Al Green’s ‘Love & Happiness’ just ain’t alive. THAT’s Memphis right there.”
Now living in Nashville, Kevin tips his hand to how varied his musical taste is now. Co-produced by jazz/funk legend George Duke, Rex Rideout also appears as a co-writer and producer on “One Life…” “Rex and I had worked together before on a duet I sang with Maysa for a Luther Vandross tribute CD called, “Forever, For Always, For Luther – Vol. 2”, but we’d never written together. It turned out to be a match made in Heaven. Rex knocked this stuff out of the park!”
Pure heart. That’s the same element that each guest artist added to this amazing CD. Just check out the top-shelf guest list on “One Life To Love”: Keys; George Duke, Rex Rideout, Kenneth Crouch, John Stoddart Bass; Alex Al, former Chaka Khan bassist Melvin Davis, Kyle Whalum Guitar; Paul Jackson, Jr., Babyface guitarist Michael Ripoll, Darrell Crooks, Freddie Clark Drums; Oscar Seaton, Maze drummer Mike White, Marcus Finnie Saxophones; Kirk Whalum Percussion; Lenny Castro Trumpet; Michael “Patches” Stewart B-3 Organ; Ralph Lofton Lead & Backing Vocals; Lynne Fiddmont Background Vocals; Mark Kibble of Take 6, Kenya Hathaway, Fred White, Kim Mont, Nickie Conley, Nirva Ready
Kevin has more than raised the bar for musicians who will follow him. Given some of the things that make it onto our radios these days, it’s not a moment too soon. As he puts it, Love Hard, Love Well, Love NOW, because we only have “One Life to Love.”