Kirk Whalum is an American smooth jazz saxophonist and songwriter. He toured with Whitney Houston for more than seven years and soloed in her single I Will Always Love You, the bestselling single by a female artist in music history.
Kirk Whalum was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Melrose High School and Texas Southern University where he was a member of the World Famous Ocean of Soul Marching Band. In addition to singing in his fathers church choir, Whalum learned to love music from his grandmother, Thelma Twigg Whalum, a piano teacher, and two uncles, Wendell Whalum and Hugh Peanuts Whalum, who performed with jazz bands around the country. He told John H. Johnsons magazine Ebony Man in a 1994 profile, The music I like to play and write encompasses the four elements I grew up with Memphis RampB, gospel, rock, and jazz. The emphasis, though, is on melody, period.