Kari Kirkland

International Jazz Vocalist

As the child of 2 musicians, Kari grew up surrounded by sound. Whether in the recording studio, the green room, or on the tour bus, music was an integral part of her world. Kari began writing and performing pop and rock at a young age, but she was always drawn to the style of contemporary jazz.

She began performing overseas as part of a jazz duo in 2005, traveling through the UK, and most of Western Europe. Kari co-wrote, recorded and released a pop-folk LP with an Irish musician in 2012, but was still called back to jazz in her heart.

In early 2016, Kari met world-renowned pianist, composer and arranger Shelly Berg, and her world changed forever. In Shelly, Kari found a musical confidant whose understanding of her as an artist gave her the freedom to express her own unique style. The result is a sultry, sensual, lush, and richly textured sound that melds jazz, cabaret, blues and pop into its own authentic genre.


Kari Kirkland’s Story

Early this year, my husband (who believes in me more than anyone I’ve ever known – actually a ridiculous amount) secretly set up a meeting with world-renowned jazz pianist, Shelly Berg. Shelly is a four-time-Grammy-nominee, the Dean of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, composer of numerous film and television scores, musical director of the “Jazz Cruise” and a “Steinway Artist”. My husband heard his music, and without telling me, emailed him and asked if he would meet me. Miraculously, Shelly said yes.

Kari and Gary Kirkland Seattle

Kari and Gary Kirkland

Like a scene in a movie, a fateful, midnight meeting brought us together in Shelly’s living room in Miami, in February, 2016. On the spot, with him accompanying, I sang three songs for him. Shelly has performed, recorded, and / or arranged for Gloria Estefan, Patti Austin, Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Michael Feinstein, Renée Fleming, Gregory Porter, Aretha Franklin, Tierney Sutton, Janelle Monáe, Queen Latifa, Lorraine Feather, Monica Mancini, Rita Moreno, Ricky Martin, Kevin Spacey, Dionne Warwick, Carmen Bradford, Arturo Sandoval, and many more.

Incredibly, with so many other options at his fingertips, he agreed to arrange and accompany me on an LP recording of jazz songs after he completed his next project (arranging for and accompanying Steve Miller and Jimmy Vaughan at a concert at Lincoln Center). After we played/sang together for about an hour at his place, he said “You’re really, really talented. Let’s do something great together!”
Mind. Blown.

“Kari is a passionate and gifted musician, both as an entertainer and a maker/creative. Whether you are experiencing her impressive body of recorded works or listening to her live and in person, there are few entertainers that come off as that authentic while still possessing a high level of professional polish. In life, to know her is to love her, which makes bearing witness to her art even more potent and joyful.”
– Julie Mains (The Juliettes)

“The clarity and elasticity in Kari Kirkland’s voice has to be heard to be believed. It’s underpinned by huge emotional depth. In all aspects of music-making, Kari is a consummate professional and it’s always a great pleasure to work with her.”
– Aidan Goldstraw