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Vocalist Kurt Elling to perform at Coltrane festival
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Vocalist Kurt Elling to perform at Coltrane festival

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Cuba International Jazz Day

Jazz artists Kurt Elling, center, Bobby Carcasses, left, Herbie Hancok, second right, and Cassandra Wilson, right, perform at the International Jazz Day concert in Havana, Cuba, in 2017. Elling will perform at this year’s John Coltrane Festival in High Point.

HIGH POINT — The winner of the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album will be the featured performer on day two of the 10th annual John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival on Sept. 5.

Kurt Elling’s current win was for the album “Secrets Are the Best Stories.” He has received 11 Grammy Award nominations, winning his first in 2007 for the live recording “Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman.”

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He has received eight Jazz Journalists Association awards for “Male Singer of the Year,” and the New York Times declared him to be “the standout male vocalist of our time.”

A Chicago native, Elling began singing in Windy City clubs at night while studying at the University of Chicago Divinity School by day. He made his recording debut on Blue Note Records with “Close Your Eyes” in 1995. That album not only secured Elling his first Grammy nomination but showcased many of the aspects that came to define his sound: a mix of jazz standards and original compositions, poetry and music.

A past vice president of the Recording Academy, Elling cites Tony Bennett and the Woody Herman Band as early musical influences. Elling has collaborated with jazz legends and classical orchestras; created multi-disciplinary theatrical works for the Steppenwolf Theatre and the City of Chicago; served as artist-in-residence for the Singapore and Monterey Jazz Festivals; and explored the common ground between jazz and poetry, working with the words of Allen Ginsberg, Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda and others.

The John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival will be held Sept 4-5 in Oak Hollow Festival Park. The celebration of jazz and blues music honors Coltrane, who grew up in High Point and graduated from William Penn High School, now Penn-Griffin School of the Arts. For ticket information and festival details, visit


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