Kalil Wilson `06

2 min read
Kalil Wilson '06, Department of Ethnomusicology (Jazz)
Kalil Wilson '06, Ethnomusicology (Jazz)

Department of Ethnomusicology (Jazz)

Kalil Wilson is a vocalist whose style crosses genres of jazz, R&B, pop, and even classical. He entered UCLA in the vocal and opera program before discovering his love of jazz. His albums include “Easy to Love” and “Time Stops.” Wilson has performed across Europe and the U.S., including the Metropolitan Opera House and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

In an interview with Wilson, the versatile vocalist shared his insights on how UCLA helped him cultivate his unique voice and advice for young alumni.

  • As a vocalist you are well-known for incorporating jazz, r & b, pop and classical into your style. How did UCLA help you develop that unique voice? 

Having the departments so close together was key. I really felt the value of all the varieties of music that I loved–old and new–being expressed in the same place, almost on top of each other. It was an exquisite joy to be able to have my ears sample such a rich diversity of beautiful musical traditions so closely inter-cooperating.

  • Have there ever been times when your doubted yourself as an artist?  What guidance would you give to young musicians who might be questioning themselves or their musical path?

The arts always invite us to do new things. Music is eternal. It will always be here. No break from it is too long.

  • What is one overlooked skill that you suggest up and coming musicians cultivate? 

Something I overlooked was the ability to talk to people. Make conversation and connections with people as early as you can. Relationships are critical in this industry, and others.

  • Can you share a favorite memory from your time as a student?

Studying for our exams was always a blast when it meant getting together to listen to or play music that we loved or found really far out.

  • What advice would you give to current students and / or young alumni of the School of Music?  

Always have a backup plan, and a backup plan for the backup plan. I think it’s the smartest thing anyone could do.

Learn More about degrees in Ethnomusicology and Global Jazz Studies

Are you an alumnus who would like to share your success with the school? Please e-mail alumni@schoolofmusic.ucla.edu. We’d love to hear from you!