Kalil Amar Wilson, born October 8, 1981 in Oakland, California, is an American operatic, jazz, and R&B vocalist, voice teacher, 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, where he was named the "Distinguished Ethnomusicology Student" of his graduating class. 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."
Wilson has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic,Los Angeles Opera, the Oakland East Bay Symphony, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Getty Museum, the Hollywood Bowl, the Aspen Music Festival, the Mendocino Music Festival, and UCLA Live at Royce Hall, among others. In 2008, 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, For two years he held a fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he performed 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." Wilson has appeared numerous times with the Oakland East Bay Symphony. He currently specializes in Baroque and 20th century classical repertoire. After hearing Wilson perform in a master class at Aspen, Renée Fleming said, "Kalil makes me cry."
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."
Jazz, soul, R&B,:
Wilson's journey into popular music is rooted in his family history. His father is Nigerian bassist and bandleader Babá Ken Okulolo, and as a youth he frequently performed with his father's ensembles.
In 2006, Wilson was urged by his vocal coach Seth Riggs to extend his efforts into jazz, 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, the Central Avenue Jazz Festival, the UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival, and Yoshi's. In July 2009, Wilson performed onstage with his mentor, Kenny Burrell, at the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles.
In 2009, in collaboration with pianist Berkeley Everett, Wilson released his full-length debut recording, Easy to Love, an album devoted to the American Songbook.
In 2010, Kalil made his European performance debut 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.
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. and at the Hollywood Bowl. In 2011 he sang in a duet vocal performance with Omara Portuondo and the Buena Vista Social Club at the L'Auditori in Barcelona.
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