Kurt Meets Tim Smith, the Grand Prize Winner in the View From My Window Contest

After the release of Passion World, his latest recording for Concord, Kurt Elling held a photo contest inspired by the View From My Hotel Window gallery on his website. For years while on tour Kurt has taken photos from hotel and airplane windows as well as of eye-catching scenes in the places he visits worldwide, posting them for fans on Instagram and his website.
For this View From My Window contest, Kurt asked fans to submit photos of the views outside the windows of places special to them. The grand prize was a single, custom-made, autographed copy of Passion World with the winner's photo on the cover.

The competition took a remarkable turn when Kurt selected Tim Smith as the grand prize winner. Smith is a long-time Kurt Elling fan who runs a design firm in Cincinnati, OH. After expressing his delight at winning, Tim shared some personal stories with Kurt and his team that revealed the deeper significance of his photo.

Tim is slowly losing his vision to Retintis Pigmentosa and he serves as President of his local chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. As a talented designer Tim's eyesight is vital to his craft. He explained that Kurt's music has been an important escape for him ever since he first heard the singer on National Public Radio in the late '90s.

Tim Smith's Passion World cover
Tim's prize-winning photo was shot from the back deck of his home overlooking the Ohio River he loves. He and his wife Paula Toti built the deck so he could enjoy the expansive river view as long as possible. Tim said that having Kurt select his photo of the place that's so special to him was particularly meaningful because Kurt's music has provided comfort to him during difficult times.

Said Kurt, “Tim's is a beautiful image – so many of the entries were, and it was a difficult choice. But Tim's has a dreamy quality that was very evocative – of adventures and literature and travel and something more than mere romance. Tim's photo is a painting.”

Paula Toti, Tim Smith, Kurt EllingTim said, “I would like Mr. Elling to know how much it means to me that he enjoyed the image. It seems the least I could do considering how much pleasure his music has given me over the years. Designing an album cover for Mr. Elling is something I've dreamed of. This may be as close as I ever come and I consider it an honor.”

This heart-warming story concluded recently in Louisville, KY where Kurt presented Tim with the custom-made, autographed copy of Passion World featuring Tim's fabulous photo as the cover art.

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A gallery of all the entries in the View From My Window contest, including Tim Smith's grand-prize winning photo and those of the five runners-up, is here.