Kevin Toney

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Kevin Kraig Toney is an American pianist and composer, known as an original member of The Blackbyrds and now is a solo artist and performer.


Toney was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where he attended Cass Technical High School. He was performing with the jazz-fusion group The Blackbyrds when he received his B.A. in Composition and Jazz Studies from Howard University.[1] Seven albums were recorded with the group, three of which were certified gold. Many of their hit songs including "Rock Creek Park" and the Grammy nominated "Unfinished Business" were written by Toney.[1]

In the years between the Blackbyrds and his subsequent career as a solo recording artist, Toney was a conductor and arranger for recording and performing artists including: James Ingram, Patti Austin, Michael McDonald, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., Carl Anderson, Edwin Hawkins and Isaac Hayes. He also served as conductor and arranger for productions of: Ain’t Misbehavin’, Five Guys Named Moe, Sophisticated Ladies, Harlem Suite, Wild Women Blues (featuring Linda Hopkins) The Magic Of Motown: A Tribute To Barry Gordy and Atlanta. He has also recorded and/or performed with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Seal, Annie Lennox, Shirley Caesar, Ray Charles, Ray Parker Jr., Pink, Kenny Burrell, Nancy Wilson and O.C. Smith to name a few.

Although Toney released his first solo recording, Special K, in 1982, his career as a solo artist really began to take off in 1993 with the release of Lovescape, which yielded two major smooth jazz radio hits in "Kings" and "Aphrodisiac". His follow-up was the 1995 release of Pastel Mood, which featured Carl Anderson, and subsequent releases of: Extra Sensual Perception, Strut, Sweet Spot, 110 Degrees and Rising and Retrospectives, which was released in 2006. The 2002 Winter Olympic Committee selected the Strut CD as part of its official music.[1] Toney’s collaboration with Unwrapped producer Tony Joseph on the compilation Def Jazz, a smooth jazz interpretation of rap classics, was released in 2005 on Def Jam Records.

Toney’s current project titled A Grateful Heart is his first solo piano recording. Toney recently released the Kevin Toney Collection Volume 1, which includes 24 of his most popular recorded compositions, and scored a full-length feature film titled Kings of the Evening.

Kevin Toney is a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.


“Toney’s intricate compositions and sophisticated piano playing are evidence of his rich and solid jazz, blues and gospel roots” - Jazz Times[2]


As Leader[edit]

  • Special K (1982)
  • Lovescape (1993)
  • Pastel Mood (1995)
  • Extra Sensual Perception (1999)
  • Satin Doll - Smooth Jazz Plays Duke Ellington (2000)
  • Strut (2001)
  • Sweet Spot (2003)
  • 110 Degrees and Rising (2005)
  • Retrospectives (2006)
  • A Heart Of Gratitude aka A Grateful Heart (2008)
  • "Kings Of The Evening" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2012)
  • New American Suite (2012)

With Blackbyrds[edit]

  • Blackbyrds (Fantasy, 1973)
  • Flying Start (Fantasy, 1974)
  • Cornbread, Earl and Me (Fantasy, 1975)
  • City Life (Fantasy, 1976) (RIAA Gold LP)
  • Unfinished Business (Fantasy, 1977) (RIAA Gold LP)
  • Action (Fantasy, 1978) (RIAA Gold LP)
  • Better Days (Fantasy, 1981)
  • Happy Music (Concord, 2007)
  • Lovebyrds (Concord, 2007)

With Various Artists[edit]

  • Bobbi Humphrey Live: Cookin' with Blue Note at Montreux — Bobbi Humphrey (Blue Note, 1973)
  • Live at Montreux — Alphonse Mouzon (Blue Note, 1973)
  • Live at Montreux — Marlena Shaw (Blue Note, 1973)
  • Places and Spaces — Donald Byrd (Blue Note, 1976)
  • Caricatures — Donald Byrd (Blue Note, 1977)
  • "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" — Sylvester (Honey/Fantasy, 1979)
  • Scratch My Back — David “Fathead” Newman (Fantasy, 1979)
  • Sharon Redd — Sharon Redd (1980)
  • You Can Call It What You Want — Bill Summers and Summers Heat (MCA, 1981)
  • We Call It the Box — Bill Summers and Summers Heat (MCA, 1983)
  • Soul Jazz — Rahmlee Michael Davis (1986)
  • After MidnightRay Parker, Jr. (Arista, 1987)
  • Piano in the Dark — Brenda Russell (A & M, 1987)
  • Midnite Blue — Phil Upchurch (KICJ [import],1991)
  • Joyful Noise — Chester Thompson (Rhino, 1992)
  • Get the Feeling — Two Tons: Martha Wash/Azora Armstead (Fantasy, 1993)
  • Unforgettable Sax — Hugh Brodie (1994)
  • Duets — Paul Jackson, Jr. (Blue Note, 1996)
  • Love Letters — Craig T. Cooper (Sin Drome, 1996)
  • Street Sax — Chazzy Green (1999)
  • Life Changes — Doc Powell (Sampson, 2001)
  • Nu Life Stories — Dave McMurray (Hip Bop, 2003)
  • The House Of Urban Grooves — Various artists (Peak, 2004)
  • Def Jazz — Various artists (Verve, 2005)
  • Full Circle — Andre Delano (7th Note, 2005)
  • Live at the Funk Lounge — Val Watson (2005)
  • I'm FreeRay Parker, Jr. (Raydio Music, 2006)

As Producer[edit]

  • Send It On Down (WHHB Records 1985)
  • Love In Motion - Jeannie Tatum (Uotahum 2000)
  • C-Note - Reggie C (Liquid 8 2003)
  • Back To You-Talia Long (TLR 2006)
  • Cornbread Earl and Me Fantasy 1975
  • Armed and Dangerous Columbia 1986 (Michael Henderson)

With Andrew White[edit]

  1. Passion Flower AM-5 1973
  2. Songs For A French Lady AM-6 1974
  3. Theme AM-7 1975
  4. Live At The Foolery (Vol I) AM-8 1975
  5. Live At The Foolery (Vol II) AM-9 1975
  6. Live At The Foolery (Vol III) AM-10 1975
  7. Collage AM-14 1975
  8. Marathon (Vol VI) AM-20 1976
  9. Marathon (Vol VII) AM-21 1976
  10. Marathon (Vol VIII) AM-22 1976
  11. Marathon (Vol XI) AM-23 1976
  12. Fonk Update AM-37 1979
  13. I Love Japan AM-38 1979
  14. Have Band Will Travel AM-39 1979

Awards and Achievements[edit]

- Grammy Award Nomination Best Instrumental Song, Unfinished Business - The Blackbyrds, 1978

- Grammy Award Nomination Best R & B Song, Walking In Rhythm-The Blackbyrds, 1976

- RIAA Certified Gold Album “Action” - The Blackbyrds, 1978

- RIAA Certified Gold Album ”Unfinished Business”, The Blackbyrds 1977

- RIAA Certified Gold Album, “City Life” with The Blackbyrds, 1976

- NAACP Image Award Best Jazz Group - The Blackbyrds, 1977

- Billboard Magazine Award #1 Pop Instrumental Group - The Blackbyrds, 1976

- Record World Award #1 Jazz Group - The Blackbyrds, 1976

- National Endowment For The Arts Fellowship Grant for Jazz Composition and Performance, 1981

- Keys To the City” Awards Detroit, New Orleans, Los Angeles

- Madison Who’s Who In America 2008

- Service To The Community Honor Inglewood Unified School District Visual & Performing Arts Theatre, 2008

- Division Marshall 37th Annual Black History Parade - City Of San Bernardino, 2006

- Certificate Of Commendation College Bound Program, Los Angeles, CA 2001 & 2002

- Who’s Who In America 1984, 1992


  1. ^ a b c Widran, Jonathan. "Kevin Toney: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  2. ^ Tauss, Lucy (2002). "Kevin Toney". Jazz Times. Retrieved 13 July 2011. 

External links[edit]