For all of his fame and accolades, two things are pretty much universally accepted when it comes to homegrown jazz star Kirk Whalum:

  • He never left his faith behind.
  • He never forgot he’s from Memphis.

Hailed as a musical ambassador who continuously gives back to his hometown, Memphis returned the love on Wednesday. Whalum is the latest honoree to receive a “Beale Street Note” – an honor reserved for those in the music industry who have left an indelible mark on Memphis’ music scene.

Whalum was gracious in his acceptance remarks, saying that he continues to strive to be a good saxophone player.

“If you’re fortunate enough to play for an audience like this, that’s really the icing on the cake,” Whalum told dozens of fans during the ceremony outside the Halloran Centre. “Really, the cake is pursuing what you love to do – day by day by day. So that’s what I’ll continue to do. And there may come a day – maybe – when I say I deserve a note on Beale Street. But until then, I’m just blown away by this moment.”

After talking with media and a few photos, it was Whalum’s turn to blow away the moment. With a backing band led by best friend Gary Goin, Whalum ripped through a 30-minute set that featured songs like “Don’t Ever Wonder,” Grover Washington’s “Mr. Magic,”  and other classic tunes. Not a bad way to spend lunchtime on humpday.

Check out Whalum’s remarks below, as well as comments from legendary producer David Porter and Rev. Kenneth Whalum, Kirk’s brother. And if you missed the live stream of Whalum’s “Beale Street Note” show, just click above to play!