Chris Walker is one of those soulful people who is deeply grateful for the people who influenced him throughout his life. He thanks his father for his love of music. He grew up singing in his dad’s gospel band, the “Walker Brothers,” where they performed as the opening act for such notables as “Mighty Clouds of Joy,” and Shirley Caesar.
Chris is grateful to his high school mentor, Bob “Doc” Morgan who was director of music at the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts when Chris was attending. He was so aware of Morgan’s influence, he and another former HSPVA student, Ashley Tamar Davis, are the founders of DocFest – a nonprofit that raises money for college scholarships for HSPVA jazz graduates.
He is also thankful for the amazing 22 years he spent with Al Jarreau as his music director, mentee, and bass player. He knows that this experience helped shape him, not only as a musician, but as a person, as Jarreau’s kindness and compassion were shared with everyone no matter the time of day or circumstances.
To honor Al, Chris has just completed a CD, featuring many of today’s jazz greats, titled “We’re in this Love Together, Celebrating Al Jarreau.” To choose the songs for the CD, he went to social media, asking Al Jarreau fans to list their two favorites. Chris received more than 800 responses. From this he tallied the group’s choices, added a few of his own, and wrote two songs for a total of 16 songs as part of the project.
A special piece on the CD is a voicemail recording that Al left on Chris’ phone shortly before he died. “I prayed about putting it (the voice recording) on the CD, and the Holy Spirit instructed me to do so,” Chris said. “So many people have reached out to me that have heard it and said that they cried when they heard Al’s voice. It is endearing.”
In addition to recording, Chris is touring – look for him with Dave Koz on his holiday tour.
Chris’s life is marked by “right place, right time” experiences. One was when he was 18 years old exploring the halls of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. Carrying his bass, he happened upon a jam session in need of a bass player and was asked to join in. The school dean happened to hear him play, and Chris was offered a full scholarship at the school; a school he had previously applied to and been turned down for inability to pay the tuition.
Another such experience was at a concert in South Africa more than 17 years ago. He was playing with Al Jarreau and they were doing a sound check with about 200 people in attendance. Al was introducing the musicians, and when he came to Chris’ name, the crowd started chanting, “Chris Walker, Chris Walker,” much to everyone’s surprise. It turns out that a South African DJ, Eddie Zondie had been playing Chris’ music on the air for years and he had a great following. Chris has been back several times – including this summer – playing to sell-out crowds.
For more information on Chris Walker, visit his website, chriswalkersmusic.com.
Click for Info and to Purchase Tickets to DocFest Presents…Celebrating Al Jarreau Starring the one and only Chris Walker & Friends
Biography written by Gael Hees