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Understanding Kurt Elling


While his newly-released album, The Questions, sets out to explore the nature of love, loneliness and the suffering, Kurt Elling shies away from the label of philosopher. “Man, I’m just a guy walking around who can sing pretty good sometimes. I’m just trying to understand, trying to understand who I am.” The ever-busy jazz singer took some time between shows in Austin to join Dianne Donovan of Voices in Jazz for a thoughtful, wide-ranging conversation. For The Questions, Elling collaborated with the likes of Joey Calderazzo and Jeff “Tain” Watts. Even so, he says the album’s themes didn’t fully become apparent to him until it was recorded and mixed. He said, “It was only then that it came into focus for me, how much we were trying to address where we are right now.” “That doesn’t mean it’s a whole bunch of protest songs. It’s asking the questions: Where are we now? How do we overcome loneliness? What is love?”

Listen to the full interview to hear more about The Questions and how Elling’s distinctive voice was born out of church choirs and more.