At 25, Kris Bowers skillfully fuses the hip-hop and rap he grew up with with his classical music and jazz training to create beautiful music. Considered one of the newest and brightest stars in jazz today, Bowers’ sound – though rooted in traditional styles – is teeming with rich external influences that keep his music fresh for a new generation of cool.
Bowers was raised by parents whose tastes ran from Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye and other old school greats. He soon took piano lessons, and developed an ear for music. Like many teens of the 90s, Bowers’ tastes gradually leaned more toward the rap and hip-hop of the 1990s. He was also intrigued by the musical stylings of several high-profile film composers.
He soon became frustrated with the piano and took up jazz lessons. “I liked the freedom of jazz,” Bowers said. “The truth is, a lot of popular music – including the music I was listening to as a teenager – came from jazz and the blues.”
After high school, Bowers began his undergraduate studies at Juilliard in 2006.
Bowers finished his undergraduate degree and stayed to earn a master’s degree in jazz performance with a concentration in film composition. In September 2011, he won the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Co-chairs of the program included Madeleine Albright, Quincy Jones, Debra Lee and Colin Powell.
Although considered primarily a jazz artist, Bowers has never been afraid to step outside of the genre’s traditional boundaries and dabble in other forms of music. Bowers performed with Q-Tip at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, and later performed on Watch the Throne, the 2011 collaborative album by hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Kanye West.
We are so delighted to feature Kris Bowers on our 2015 AOC Festival lineup, and as our artist of the week.
What songs are you looking forward to listening to from Kris Bowers?
Make sure you check out Kris’ album Heroes and Misfits before the festival to get your cool ready!