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Kenny Kirkwood

Kenny Kirkwood is a Juno award-winning Canadian musician who has toured internationally in a career spanning three decades. He has worked with Gord Downie, Kim Mitchell, Jacksoul, Kevin Breit, NOJO and Paul Reddick. Kenny has also opened for James Brown, Al Green and performed for Quincy Jones.

Kenny spent his childhood in Zambia, experiencing traditional Bemba and Nyanja music, language and culture, and hearing local folk and pop groups and church choirs. These experiences deeply ingrained in him the value of the communal and spiritual aspects of music, song and dance in everyday life.

Over the last decade Kenny has collaborated with Indigenous people on Turtle Island and worldwide in working towards reconciliation. He worked with Anishinaabe and Onkwehón:we 2-Spirit people to create "Reconciliation Through Music 2017," a concert fundraiser in support of the, "I Am Affected," campaign supporting 2-Spirited people. In 2018, he performed with Mohawk singer-songwriter Lacey Hill and The Wild Blueberry Band at Six Nations Pride.

In recent years he has performed with several award winning Haudenosaunee blues-rock-jazz artists including Derek Miller, Joshua Arden Miller, Cheri Maracle, Murray Porter and The Ollivanders.

As a creative composer-songwriter, Kenny has led several bands known for their dynamic and interactive performances. His Zambian-inspired collective ZAMCAB was featured at AfroFest 2003 in Toronto. In 1999, his smooth jazz group A BAND CALLED KITE, released their debut CD, "Kite Tales," recorded live at Toronto's premiere jazz venue the Top of the Senator.

Kenny was raised as a youth in multicultural Toronto, influenced by the diverse mix on the creative art scene. He was a key member of groundbreaking ensembles as jazz-rock big band NOJO, modern sax quartet 40 Fingers, world music group Vuja De, and played with innovative recording artists including Rich Brown, Andrew Downing, Rita di Ghent, Tim Posgate, Rob Clutton and Steve Koven. With these peers and mentors, he honed his musicianship and voice, earning a reputation for his soulful improvising and rhythmic discovery.


NOJO - Neufeld Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra 1996: winner of Juno Award, Best Contemporary Jazz Album, NOJO 1997: nomination for Juno Award, Best Contemporary Jazz Album, FireWater 1999: nomination for Juno Award, Best Contemporary Jazz Album, You Are Here (with Don Byron) VUJA DE 2002: nomination for Juno Award, Best Contemporary Jazz Album, Mistura


"Who is this man who sounds so happy?" - Avril Benoit - CBC Radio

"Kirkwood’s bari-sax broke from the gate like a raging bull out to get him some matador for lunch. It roared, it shrieked, it bellowed, it flew around, wild-eyed and snorting." - Stephen Pederson - Halifax Chronicle Herald

"Kenny's playful rhythmic music is very challenging... performed with ease and energy...very natural and a lot of fun for the audience." - Michael Occhipinti - Juno-winning bandleader, Artistic director

“The songs give me a lot of images...the melodies are great...the harmonies are really warm....it all just takes you.” - S.D. singer/songwriter, fan.

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Primary Instrument

Voice / vocals

Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced


30 yrs experience tutoring all ages and levels in voice, sax, piano, percussion, musicianship, improv, voicework, bodywork, instrument technique, songwriting.

Clinic/Workshop Information

Experienced motivational educator with insightful and practical tips. MUSIC CLINICS: Group Skills, Creative Improvisation, Instrument Technique, Songwriting/Composition, business. MUSIC WORKSHOPS: Release Your Inner Musician, Jazz Play, Music Leadership in Community, Children/Youth Music Leadership.

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saxophone, baritone
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voice / vocals
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saxophone, alto
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saxophone, alto
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saxophone, alto
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voice / vocals
Stevie Wonder
Earth, Wind & Fire
band / orchestra

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