Kafé Kirk with a Kick of Sheila E. kicks off Chirstmas season at Halloran Centre


Kafé Kirk is Kirk Whalum’s love letter to his hometown, as well as a chance to bring some of the musically gifted friends he’s made over the years to Memphis. But he’s also made a holiday tradition of “The Gospel According to Jazz,” a love letter, well, to the Birth of Christ.

Both of these came together spectacularly Sunday night at the Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts – with an assist from legendary drummer and percussionist, Sheila E.

Check out the clip above for a humorous intro for Sheila E., in which the band is grooving her smash hit “The Glamorous Life,” and just as she’s about to sing, the rest of the band breaks into “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” And if that sounds like fun, it was.

Whalum and his band, which also featured vocalists Lynn Mabry and brother Kevin Whalum, ripped through holiday classics like “The Christmas Song,” “Christmas Time is Here” while mixing in Memphis classics like “Love and Happiness.”

Later, Sheila E. emerged in the audience with an African drum to kick off . . .  wait for it . . . “Little Drummer Boy.” And after appropriately destroying said drums, she put on a cutesy voice to say, “God told me . . . girls can play drums too.”

By the end of the night, Whalum had launched into full worship mode, complete with a foot-stomping, dancing in the aisles, organist solo finale that would have been right at home at the end of any Missionary Baptist or COGIC sermon.

The next Kafe Kirk is set for February. To get tickets, visit orpheummemphis.com.