Skip area navigation

Grammy Winning Saxophonist Kirk Whalum to Headline OBU Jazz Festival April 6

March 23, 2017

Oklahoma Baptist University will host the fourth annual Bison Hill Jazz Festival Thursday, April 6. The festival will culminate in a 7:30 p.m. evening concert featuring Grammy and Dove-award winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum and Grammy-nominated pianist John Stoddart with the Bison Jazz Orchestra and OBU Gospel Choir. Admission is free and open to the public.

Whalum served as Whitney Houston’s saxophonist for seven years, and can be heard on her hit "I Will Always Love You." As a solo artist, he has recorded twenty-six albums, including four volumes of The Gospel According to Jazz, featuring original compositions and collaborations with top names in jazz. On Friday morning, April 7, Kirk Whalum will present a worship music workshop at 10 a.m., providing insight from his life and career. All events are free and open to the public, and will be held in Raley Chapel Potter Auditorium.

High school jazz ensembles from around the region will participate in the daytime festival, including Shawnee, Dale, Del City, Midwest City, Tishomingo, Sulphur, Crossings Christian, Pauls Valley and Choctaw. Guest adjudicators include OBU trumpet instructor Paul Stephens, OU saxophone professor Dr. Jonathan Nichol and University of Central Oklahoma drum professor Justin Walke.

The comments from judges will assist bands in preparing for the OSSAA state jazz contest in late April. Performances will take place throughout the day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium, followed by an improvisation masterclass with Whalum at 4 p.m.

Justin Pierce, assistant professor in instrumental music, organized the event.

“It is a valuable opportunity to host artists like Kirk and John, whose artistic excellence is entwined with their Christian identity,” Pierce said. “OBU students will gain valuable insights on a life in the music industry.”

For more information on the event, contact Pierce at or 405.585.4312.