William Kurk


Manufactured from the seed of musical ancestry, William Kurk is a Chicago-born artist that comes from a family of artistic lineage. Son to musicians Beverly and William, Sr, grandson to Dr. Lena Mclin, and great nephew to Thomas A. Dorsey, Kurk is a torch bearer of the most distinguished values of humanity and arts.
Formal vocal training for Kurk started with his grandmother, Dr. Lena McLin at age 13. Prior to that, Kurk studied the flute, trumpet, guitar, and bass guitar. His first experience with an instrument was as early as nine-months old on drums. Singing was the first musical stronghold on the early years of Kurk’s artistic identity. Along with performing at various talent showcases around Chicago, singing in the church choir was quintessential to the process, while also singing in all-city youth chorus and mass services weekly as a student at Hales Franciscan High School.
Piano would eventually become the instrument of interest, and Kurk started his own study of the instrument by age 15. As early as 16, Kurk was playing in a big band led by the late-great Ken Chaney as an apprentice, and playing solo piano gigs around town. After graduating from Hales Franciscan High School, Kurk would attend Northern Illinois University for a semester to continue voice study with renowned baritone, Robert Sims (an esteemed pupil of Dr. McLin).
After a semester at Northern Illinois University, Kurk transferred to Columbia College Chicago, accepting a Jazz Studies scholarship for piano performance. While studying jazz pedagogy under the guidance of Bill Russo, Kurk was summoned for studio work as a session player for Motown/Universal artist Prophet Jones, as well as 143 Records. It was during these sessions that Kurk was introduced to Tom Washington (arranger for Earth, Wind, & Fire, Genesis, The Jacksons), who would instantly become a mentor in pop arranging and musicianship.
Kurk started piano accompaniment work at Black Ensemble Theater in 2001, where he played local and touring productions for a variety of shows. In 2002, Kurk began to tour with The Dells, as well as The Marvelettes, Platters, and Coasters, which would be a great aid in developing the mature musical components of Kurk.
After acquiring a Bachelors Degree (B.A) in Music Composition from Columbia College Chicago, Kurk continues to work as a freelance pianist, as well as for several theater companies as a musical director/sound designer/pianist. Kurk was nominated in 2007 for Best Musical Director by the Black Theater Alliance for the musical “Sarafina”. Other notable shows under the musical direction of Kurk include: “Once On This Island”, “Ragtime”, “Hair”, “Runaways”, “Godspell”, “Nefertiti”, “The Wiz”, “Trouble The Water”, and “Cabaret”. William Kurk has always been passionate about the personal vision of art. An ambassador to the Chicago music scene by virtue of efforts to support fellow artists and the continued pursuit of maintaining original ideas, released five studio albums: 'The Sound: Vol.1' (2004), 'The Sound: Vol. 2' (2007), 'The Sound: Vol. 3' (2009), 'Pop Fusion' (2011), and 'Super Pop Fusion' (2012). Members of the Grammy-award winning band Yellowjackets are featured on the third album: Bob Mintzer and Will Kennedy on the contemporary jazz hit, “Another Day”. William Kurk has also been a host to many events and shows around Chicago, as well as reviewed several indie projects under the alias ‘The Musicianarian’.
Other studio credits outside of his own include: Seal, Melba Moore, Dwele, and Maysa Leak among many others. The William Kurk Enterprise- "LIVE IN CHICAGO" DVD was released in 2011, which is a live concert compilation of Kurk's ensemble performing across Chicago.
Some of the other notable accompaniment work for Kurk includes: Dionne Warwick, Melba Moore, Martha Reeves, Koko Taylor, Stanley Jordan, Kindred The Family Soul, Andre DeShields, Chico DeBarge, Eric Roberson, Frank McComb, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, KRS-ONE, Julie Dexter, and Bill Cosby. Kurk has also been featured by the Chicago Music Association as one of the rising young composers on the scene, and is currently the keyboardist for R&B/Funk legend Steve Arrington. The future will present more music to come from William Kurk, as the latest project will be a tribute album to all the artists that have been an influence to the musical journey. The legacy continues.


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