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Koger Center for the Arts

Auntie Karen Foundation presents the 19th Legends of... 2023 Concert & Auction


Auntie Karen Foundation presents the 19th Legends of... 2023 Concert & Auction
Friday, February, 24, 2023 • 8:00 p.m.


A Tribute to Al Jarreau featuring Kirk Whalum, Regina Belle, Chris Walker & Bob James
Opening Act: The Auntie Karen All-Star Band

The Auntie Karen Foundation presents Legends of...2023 A Tribute To Al Jarreau featuring Kirk Whalum, Regina Belle, Chris Walker & Bob James

A limited number of AARP, military and student (Grand Tier & Balcony) tickets are available for $ 5.00 off with ID at the box office. Proceeds from this event benefit the Auntie Karen Foundation.  For Sponsorship Opportunities, Premium Orchestra Seating Tickets call 803-748-7124 or visit

The Auntie Karen Foundation is a global non-profit 501(c)3 corporation based in Columbia, SC. Founded in 2001, the foundation's mission is to create and implement a series of replicable community outreach programs designed to empower, enlighten and educate through the arts.

Tickets $ 55.00 - $ 100.00 at The Koger Center Box Office
Discounts for Groups of 10+, AARP, Military in Grand Tier & Balcony only

About the show: Relive the magic of jazz music great, Al Jarreau (March 12, 1940 - February 12, 2017) when 4 musical legends take the stage to pay tribute to his life and work.  The Auntie Karen Foundation showcased Al Jarreau in 2006 and 2016 at the Koger Center. Kirk Whalum, Regina Belle, Chris Walker, and Bob James will join forces to perform Al Jarreau's music as well as some of the tunes they are noted for individually.


Kirk Whalum (saxophonist)
Soulful, passionate, stirring...these are the words most often used to describe Kirk’s music. Forged from his Memphis, (TN) gospel roots and his 1980‘s initiation into the thriving Houston, TX nightclub scene, Kirk’s big, rich tenor sound is unmistakably his. The ’80s were highlighted by Kirk’s stepping out of his blossoming sideman role and forming his own band. It was there that Kirk ultimately developed both his “voice” and songwriting in the crucible of the local club scene––especially at a rooftop club called Cody’s. It was also in Houston where jazz pianist Bob James “discovered” him and brought him on tour, which led to five successful albums with Columbia Records, including Cache, Kirk’s first #1 album. Kirk and Bob also received a Grammy nomination for their collaboration album, 'Joined at the Hip'. After moving to Los Angeles, Kirk became an in-demand session player for top artists like Barbara Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Larry Carlton, Quincy Jones, and most notably, Whitney Houston, amongst many others. It’s his sax heard on the mega-hit “I Will Always Love You.” 

Kirk soon followed that career high point with his phenomenal hit album released on Warner Bros. Records, For You, perhaps the most successful of over 25 solo recordings to date; others include his eclectic and much-lauded Gospel According to Jazz series (Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4). In addition to his many solo projects, Kirk was also a member of the popular soul/jazz group, BWB, which features Kirk as the “W” of the group with Rick Braun (trumpet) and Norman Brown (guitar)..Kirk is the recipient of numerous awards and acknowledgments for his musical excellence, including three Dove Award nominations, an NAACP Image Award nomination, and has won two Stellar Awards-Gospel music’s highest honor. A twelve-time Grammy nominee, Kirk won his first Grammy award (2011) for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do”––featuring Lalah Hathaway) alongside life-long friend and gifted songwriter Jerry Peters. 


Regina Belle (vocalist)
Regina Belle is an Academy Award-winning and Multi Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and actress. She has a string of hits, including Make It Like It Was, If I Could, Baby Come To Me, and This Is Love. Regina Belle has made a career following her heart and moving gracefully between the worlds of R&B, Gospel, and Jazz. This New Jersey native has earned distinction as an international treasure. Her luminous vocals on the Peabo Bryson duet, A Whole New World, (Grammy’s Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group in 1994) solidified her place as music royalty. 

Belle’s vocal abilities were demonstrated at a young age, with her first solo at the age of 8, at Friendship Baptist Church in New Jersey church pastored by her uncle, the late Dr. Fred M. Belle, Jr.. In 1985 Belle left Rutgers University, her senior year, just 15 credits shy of completing her degree, to go on the road with the Grammy Award, World Renown Group, THE MANHATTANS. She remained with them for two years before being springboarded into her own career. Thirty years after leaving Rutgers and 10 albums later, Belle earned her Bachelor's Degree in Africana Studies and a Minor in Music from Rutgers. 

After releasing her first Gospel album in 2008, Love Forever Shines, with the hit single God Is Good, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This devastating news came at the height of her gospel career. After two surgeries and 10 months of rehabilitation, Belle found herself back at the top of her game, ready to take on the world. 


Chris Walker (vocalist, composer, producer, musician)
It is most appropriate if there was anyone to continue the legacy of Al Jarreau; it’s Chris Walker, who served as Al Jarreau’s Musical Director, co-vocalist, and bassist for more than twenty years. In the summer of 2019, Walker released his homage to Jarreau: We’re In This Love Together – Celebrating Al Jarreau, which continues to receive rave reviews from both critics and fans alike. Almost all the musicians on the record and performing in the live shows worked with Jarreau.

Chris Walker’s first release First Time produced two top-five singles, “Giving You All My Love” and “Take Time,” which crossed over to become top 30 on the pop charts. His second release, entitled Sincerely Yours, included the classic song, “How Do You Heal A Broken Heart,” written by Chris and Carole Bayer Sager. It has received over 60 million views on YouTube. His former teacher, Gil Goldstein, brought to fruition a longtime dream of Walker’s to work with 7-time Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau and continued working with him as his Musical Director, bassist, and co-vocalist until Jarreau’s passing in 2017. 

Among other highlights in Chris Walker’s varied and ever-evolving musical career include Co-Executive Producer for “Bossa Nova Noites,” which produced shows for the USOC, French, German and Japanese Houses during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, featuring Daniel Jobim and Alexandra Jackson, being part of “Joined at the Hip;” a group with Bob James and Kirk Whalum, and performing regularly on Dave Koz’s cruises. 


Bob James (pianist)
Keyboardist Bob James is a man who has worn many musical hats. He began as a progressive jazz pianist in the early ‘60s; he even recorded for the famed underground avant-garde label ESP. By the ‘70s, however, he’d incorporated electric keyboards and become a star in the burgeoning jazz-funk and fusion genres, making records later to be sampled by countless hip-hop artists. Along the way, he was also involved in the soundtracks for everything from Serpico to the TV show Taxi and worked as an arranger and producer for Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, and others. Later in his career, James has done everything from joining the smooth jazz supergroup Fourplay to recording commercially successful classical titles. 

Since I Fell For You by Bob James and David Sanborn featuring the vocals from Al Jarreau, taken from the classic 1986 album ‘Double Vision’. The album spent 63 weeks on the Billboard charts, won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Jazz Fusion Performance’, and went on to sell a million copies. His latest release, Feel Like Making LIVE is a celebration of Bob’s unique artistry and reflects a storied career that stretches back 59 years. James is reunited with the piano trio format, which was how the Grammy-winning Missouri-born musician began his professional music career back in 1963.