Sheldon Kurland

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Sheldon Kurland
Also known as Shelly Kurland
Born (1928-06-09)June 9, 1928
Brooklyn, New York
Died January 6, 2010(2010-01-06) (aged 81)
Nashville, Tennessee
Genres country music
Occupation(s) musician and arranger
Instruments violin
Associated acts Shelly Kurland Strings

Sheldon "Shelly" Kurland (June 9, 1928 – January 6, 2010) was a violinist and musical arranger who worked as a session musician in Nashville and provided arrangements for a number of prominent country musicians.

Life and career[edit]

Sheldon Kurland was a native of Brooklyn, New York, the son of Samuel and Beatrice Kurland. He was trained as a classical musician at the Juilliard School in New York City. After receiving a master's degree, he began his professional career at Cornell University. In 1964 he moved to Nashville to accept a faculty position at Peabody College.[1][2][3]

After arriving in Nashville, Kurland began performing as a session musician for producers such as Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley who were creating a new "Nashville sound" that incorporated classical strings in place of the fiddle sound that had characterized country music. He was to play for thousands of sessions, often as leader of a group credited as the Sheldon Kurland Strings or Shelly Kurland Strings. In the late 1960s he resigned his teaching position to become a full-time musician.[1]

Music writer Robert K. Oermann credits Kurland with playing a major role in the "sweetening of the sound" that gave Nashville recordings a "crossover appeal" during the 1970s, when "the Sheldon Kurland Strings were on everything."[1] The group was a perennial winner of annual "Super Picker Awards", recognizing the musicians who performed on the most number-one records in the previous year.[2][3]

His credits as an arranger included "Half the Way" and "When I Dream" for Crystal Gayle and "I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World" for Ronnie Milsap. Other name musicians he worked with included Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, George Burns, Jimmy Buffett, Conway Twitty, Eddy Arnold, Amy Grant, Hank Snow, Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson, George Hamilton IV and Reba McEntire.[1]

Kurland and his wife Barbara were parents to three children, including movie sound artist Peter Kurland and Bluebird Cafe owner Amy Kurland. His music awards were among the music memorabilia that decorated the walls of the Bluebird Cafe.[1][2][3][4]

Kurland retired from music in the 1980s. He died in Nashville on January 6, 2010, at age 81.[1][5] His book, An Adult Guide to the Orchestra, was published posthumously.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Cooper, Peter (January 6, 2010). "Sheldon Kurland – violinist, string arranger – dies at 81". 
  2. ^ a b c "Paid Death Notice: Kurland, Shelly". New York Times. January 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "On the passing of Shelly Kurland, Peter's father". FilmNashville. January 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ Laura Ewald. "The First Lady of Nashville". GW Magazine (George Washington University) (Fall 2006). 
  5. ^ "Sheldon Kurland Obituary - Nashville, Tennessee". Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  6. ^ "‘An Adult Guide to the Orchestra’ Available for Purchase at the Schermerhorn Symphony". Nashville Arts Magazine. Nov 28, 2010. 
  7. ^ An Adult Guide to the Orchestra. Darkhorse Books. 2011. ISBN 978-0615526782.