Kurt Elling’s 50th Birthday

On Kurt's 50th birthday, he posted an open letter to his fans on his Facebook page. Fans responded with wonderful stories, photographs, and well-wishes.

Dear Friends,

It is with deep gratitude that I accept and embrace your many warm wishes on my 50th birthday. Here it is almost 30 years since I began this professional adventure. Some of you have been around from the earliest days back in Chicago, St Peter and even Rockford. I am humbled that you have chosen to listen to at least some of my notes and pay attention to some of my lyrics. I am encouraged by your kindness. I hope that in 50 years I have learned to sing better. I hope the choices I am making reflect a deepening wisdom and expertise in music and in life.

I want to give a special word of gratitude to the many musicians who have collaborated, assisted, taught and counseled me over the years – Von Freeman, Eddie Johnson, Paul Serrano, John Young, Mark Murphy, Rob Amster – Jon Hendricks, Laurence Hobgood, Ernie Watts, Bob Mintzer, Fred Hersch, Justin Faulkner, Eric Revis, Joey Calderazzo, Guy Barker and, most recently and significantly, Branford Marsalis. Chapeau as well to my fantastic friends in the working band – John Mclean, Stu Mindeman, Clark Sommers, Kendrick Scott, Ulysses Owens Jr. and Christian Euman.

I am especially thankful for my small family – my bride of 21 years, Jennifer, who continues to amaze, inspire and befriend me – my daughter, Luiza, who is a continual source of joy and pride – and our beautiful, wildly happy foster son, “Mr. Fabulous.”

A special aside of gratitude to Peter+Trudy Johnson-Lenz, who regularly oversee, edit and energize this FB page. Thank You.

I am a deeply fortunate person. I have the life I always desired. I thank you for helping to make it possible.


To read the outpouring of fan comments and good wishes in response to his letter, click here.

A second post wished Kurt the jazziest of birthdays, inviting his now 50,000+ Facebook fans to share how they discovered him, a story, photos, a favorite song, or whatever they were moved to. Again fans showered him with many well-wishes.