Kalil Wilson

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Kalil Wilson
Kalil Wilson in Moscow, 2018
Background information
OriginOakland, California
GenresJazz soul classical R&B
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, voice teacher
Instrumentsvoice, percussion, piano
Years active1995–present

Kalil Amar Wilson (born 1981) is an American vocalist, pianist, songwriter, and ethnomusicologist. Wilson began singing as a child with the Oakland Youth Chorus, studied at the UC Berkeley Young Musicians Program, and graduated magna cum laude from the UCLA Music and Ethnomusicology Departments, being named "Distinguished Ethnomusicology Student" of his graduating class.[1] There, renowned jazz guitarist and UCLA music professor Kenny Burrell wrote of Wilson, "A very special young talent with a unique sound that crosses through genres."

Kalil currently teaches and performs in the Bay Area and is a faculty member at the California Jazz Conservatory and a visiting professor and 'curator of jazz' at the Jazz & Music School, St. Petersburg, Russia.



Wilson has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic,[2] Los Angeles Opera,[3] the Oakland East Bay Symphony, at Walt Disney Concert Hall,[4] the Getty Museum, the Hollywood Bowl, the Aspen Music Festival, the Mendocino Music Festival, and UCLA Live at Royce Hall, among others. Wilson was named winner of the top prize at the Western Regional Auditions of the Metropolitan Opera National Council and competed on the Met stage in New York,[1][5] For two years he held a fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where performing the title role in Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring. The Aspen Times reported, "Wilson brought a silken tenor sound and an engaging and often funny stage presence."[6] Wilson has appeared numerous times with the Oakland East Bay Symphony. After hearing Wilson perform in a master class at Aspen, Renée Fleming said, "Kalil makes me cry."[7]

In 2012, Wilson was invited to perform at the Hollywood Bowl in a collaboration with Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Wayne Shorter, Cindy Blackman, Zakir Hussain, Dave Holland, George Whitty, and Carlos Santana for an all-star concert, "Celebrating Peace."[8]

Jazz, Soul, R&B[edit]

Wilson's journey into popular music is rooted in Kalil's family history, with father Nigerian bassist and bandleader Babá Ken Okulolo, and as a youth, frequently performing with Okulolo's diverse ensembles.

In 2006, Wilson was urged by vocal coach Seth Riggs to explorejazz, R&B, and other contemporary vocal genres. That year, Wilson was selected as a finalist in the first annual Jose Iturbi International Vocal Competition.

Wilson soon began headlining at various West Coast jazz venues and festivals, including the Jazz Bakery,[9] the Central Avenue Jazz Festival,[10] the UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival,[11] and Yoshi's.[12] In July 2009, Wilson performed onstage with mentor, Kenny Burrell, at the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles.

In 2009, in collaboration with pianist Berkeley Everett, Wilson released a full-length debut recording, Easy to Love, an album devoted to the American Songbook.

In 2010, Kalil's debuted at La Sala Apolo, in Barcelona with the Barcelona Jazz Orchestra. That same year, Wilson was selected to appear in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist Competition in Washington DC.

In 2017 Kalil began a series of performances the burgeoning jazz community in Russia. Wilson completed two tours of Russia in 2018, headlining in such locations as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Tuva, Abakan, and Murmansk.[13]


Wilson performed with guitarist Carlos Santana on his Grammy award-winning composition Novus, at the Oakland East Bay Symphony's November 2010 season opening concert.[14] and at the Hollywood Bowl. In 2011 Wilson shared a duet vocal performance with Omara Portuondo and the Buena Vista Social Club at the L'Auditori in Barcelona.





  1. ^ a b "Kalil Wilson wins NY Met Regional". Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  2. ^ "Los Angeles Philharmonic". L.A. Philharmonic. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  3. ^ "LA Opera Community Outreach Artists". LAOpera. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  4. ^ "LASplash Review". LASplash.com. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  5. ^ "Quick Takes: Finally". Google Search. October 30, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  6. ^ "Albert Herring". Aspen Times. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  7. ^ Fleming's masterclass w/ tenor Kalil Wilson on YouTube
  8. ^ "Hollywood Bowl: Celebrating Peace". Hollywood Bowl. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  9. ^ "Bakery". culturalcocktailhour. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  10. ^ "Central Avenue Jazz Festival". Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  11. ^ "2009 Jazz Reggae Festival". UCLA Live. Archived from the original on 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  12. ^ "Kalil Wilson at Yoshi's, Oakland". Yoshi's. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  13. ^ "Polovtsian Dances at the Hotel California". BezFormata.Ru. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  14. ^ "Kalil Wilson & Carlos Santana at OEBS" (PDF). OEBS. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2011-04-07.

External links[edit]