Grammy winner Kurt Elling is among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. He has won every DownBeat Critics Poll for the last thirteen years and has been named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association eight times in that same span. Every one of Elling’s nine albums has been nominated for a Grammy.
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 performance.
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 and music.”
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.
Mark G. Meadows
“Best Composer” and “Recording of the Year” —Washington City Paper, 2016
“2nd Best DC Jazz Album of 2016” —CapitalBop, 2016
“Tight and poised hitting the keys of Jelly Roll Morton’s intricate compositions and singing Susan Birckenhead’s pointed lyrics, Meadows is pure jazz nirvana.” – DC Theater Scene, 2016
Meadows “fuses the tradition of jazz with the sounds of today in a very musical and entertaining way that is certainly worth the listen” —JazzTimes, 2015
“Artist of the Year” and “Composer of the Year”—Washington City Paper, 2014
Meadows’s writing is “outstanding and his compositions fresh”—All About Jazz, 2014
Meadows “has a level of creativity that will define him amongst others in his generation”—Cyrus Chestnut, jazz pianist
Acclaimed jazz composer, pianist, vocalist, collaborator, recording artist, teacher—and now actor—Mark G. Meadows is a man on a mission: to create a unifying sound that breaks through social barriers. There’s something for everyone in his music, which harmonizes pop, gospel, R&B, hip hop, funk, and jazz. With his lyrics, suffused with meaning, and his velvet voice, Meadows cuts through the noise to speak to all. Debonair on the stage, he is also an entertainer of the highest caliber.
The son of a gospel and jazz vocalist, Meadows—who released his third studio album, To The People, in 2016—began his musical odyssey at the age of three with the gift of a toy keyboard. At age five, he started formal piano lessons under the tutelage of renowned Russian classical pianist and pedagogue Rosalie LeVant. Then, at age 13, he expanded his training to include jazz piano with the equally renowned Julie Bonk.
Meadows’s formative years were short, beginning to draw attention for his artistry while still a teenager. DownBeat magazine twice awarded Meadows honors for his work, first in 2007, dubbing his song Groovalicious “2nd Best Pop Rock Composition in North America.” In 2008, Downbeat named his performance of In The Groove “Best Pop Rock Solo in North America.”
After graduating from the famed Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Meadows went on to earn two bachelor’s degrees in psychology and jazz piano from Johns Hopkins University. Afterwards, he decided to focus on music for the first time, and went on to earn a master’s degree in jazz piano from the prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.
Increasingly in demand around the globe, Meadows has performed alongside world-renowned artists, including Bobby McFerrin, Kendrick Lamar, Nicholas Payton, Kurt Elling, and Warren Wolf. He has headlined at premier venues, including Jazz at Lincoln Center and Smalls Jazz Club in NYC, Blues Alley, Bohemian Caverns, The Warner Theatre and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; and the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD.
Meadows is also an adjunct instructor at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., where he directs and arranges for the Mellow Tones, a student jazz vocal ensemble featured on To The People. Meadows and the Mellow Tones in 2016 opened up for Kendrick Lamar and the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, and also opened for acclaimed jazz musician Kurt Elling at The Hamilton Live.
In August 2016, Meadows made his acting debut as the titular role in the Washington, D.C., premiere of the hit Broadway musical Jelly’s Last Jam at the Signature Theatre.