In an interview with the website London Jazz News, Kevin Mahogany said, “Every song that you sing onstage, you have to absorb the persona of that song.” This statement can define Mahogany’s prodigious talent and illustrious career as well. Every time he had been on the stage, he left the audience mesmerized in the best sense of the word. With his spectacular career graph, Mahogany has been a proud recipient of innumerable awards and critical acclamations. Let’s have a look at the career of the musical maestro—renowned for his silky tone and languid swagger—with respect to awards and recognitions.
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Awards And Recognitions
Graduating in music and drama from Baker University in 1981, Mahogany’s musical career boasts of 12 albums starting from 1993—including records for Warner Bros. and Telarc labels. He has been the recipient of many critics’ polls in his musical career. His first solo release—Double Rainbow in 1993—got colossal press coverage and was widely loved by the audience.
The resounding response to Double Rainbow was followed by his eponymous album Kevin Mahogany. It garnered a lot of critical acclaim. Newsweek recognized Mahogany as “The Standout Jazz Vocalist of His Generation.” Whitney Balliet, jazz writer for the New Yorker magazine, titled Mahogany as ‘The Baronial Baritone’, saying: “There is little Mahogany cannot do.”
Appreciating Kevin Mahogany, Willard Jenkins of Jazz Times wrote: “Mahogany sounds relaxed and in high spirits, poised to take his place as the standard-bearing male jazz vocalist [he] works this material with a great deal of spirit, care for the lyrics, and abundant feeling.”
DownBeat Magazine honored him with the Male Vocalist, based on DownBeat’s Readers Poll, in 1998. Subsequently, he topped the Male Vocalist category of the DownBeat Critics Poll in 1999. In fact, when Mahogany passed away on December 18, 2017, DownBeat published an article in memoriam of the legendary musician.
He also won the Jazziz magazine Critics’ Pick in 1998. He has also been a proud recipient of Jazz San Javier Award 2016 at the 19th San Javier International Jazz Festival in Spain—recognizes an artist’s career and contribution in Jazz.
Kevin Mahogany’s Career
Mahogany’s earliest musical influences came from Motown. People like Charlie Parker and Ben Webster left a lasting impression on his musical taste. Born to James and Carrie Lee mahogany, Kevin started playing piano in the third grade and later, graduated to baritone saxophone. However, what truly inspired him to take up jazz was Look to the Rainbow by Al Jarreau.
Soon, he dabbled into a full-fledged career in jazz music—a bold and ambitious move as the industry was majorly dominated by women and men in their 60’s. But Mahogany’s talent grabbed everyone’s attention. His versatile discography created a stir in the market. His album with Warner Bros., Another Time, Another Place opened to unanimous praise. “With his full-bodied, deeply masculine voice he makes the past come alive again by drawing from the rich traditions of blues, R&B and jazz,” wrote Phyl Garland for Stereo Reviews.
He closely collaborated with Client Eastwood on two major projects: Eastwood After Hours: Live at Carnegie Hall CD and the soundtrack for the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, directed and produced by Eastwood.
In 2000s, Mahogany started his own label—Mahogany Jazz—that released an album Kevin Mahogany Big Band in 2005. In Kansas City, his native place, he started 2 R&B groups: the Apollos and Mahogany.
With his supreme talent and unadulterated passion for music, Kevin Mahogany didn’t just set benchmarks but also left a legacy of good music for the posterity.