Kenny G, a Seattle kid with a love for music, started life as Ken Gorelick in 1956. He was playing sax and clarinet by age 10, and the school’s symphony orchestra and band, along with private lessons, helped his talent grow quickly. He was still in school when he got his first serious gig and has never looked back. Kenny G is now considered one of the most successful musicians ever.
Instrumental songs don’t typically hit the top 10 on the pop charts, but Kenny made it happen. This guide showcases Kenny’s rise to fame, goes over his biggest hits, and discusses some ways you can get your kid interested in playing a musical instrument.
The Rise of Kenny G
Kenny G got his first taste of fame at age 17 while still in high school. R&B singer Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra came to Seattle and needed a sax player who could read and solo with a soulful flair. Kenny was the only one in the area in the late 70s with the right sound and enough talent.
It was his first professional performance, but it lit a fire in him that remains to this day. He spent the next few years in college obtaining an accounting degree. He went to school during the day and played his saxophone in jazz bars at night with visiting performers like Barry White and Liberace.
Kenny graduated from the University of Washington, after which he joined jazz-fusion pioneer Jeff Lorber’s band. For the next four years, 1979 through 1982, he played with Lorber’s band and learned his revolutionary fusion style.
Lorber helped Kenny produce his first album, Kenny G, in 1982, which saw nominal success. A bit more success came his way with his second album release, G-Force, but his fourth album, Duotones, released in 1986, defined his music career. The album was an indisputable smash hit, with the single “Songbird” shooting up to the number 4 spot on the pop charts.
Kenny continued to delight his fans worldwide with chart-topping songs for the next 13 years.
Highest-Ranking Kenny G Songs
Kenny G has released 19 studio albums, with global sales including over 75 million records. “Songbird” remains his best-selling single ever, but his string of top-grossing songs helped him achieve platinum status in the United States.
“Forever in Love”
Kenny G wrote and produced this song on the Breathless album, released in 1992. Breathless was the best-selling instrumental album of all time. This song won a Grammy in 1994 and reached the number 1 spot on the adult contemporary charts in Canada and the United States.
“Silhouette,” which Kenny produced, is from the 1988 album of the same name. It reached number 2 on the adult contemporary charts but topped out at number 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
“Don’t Make Me Wait for Love”
Sometimes Kenny uses a vocalist in his songs, and this was one of his greatest successes doing so. Kenny plays tenor saxophone, with Lenny Williams singing lead vocals. It peaked at number 2 on the adult contemporary charts. Michael Bolton sang the lead vocal on a live version of this song.
Kenny G released this cover of “You’re Beautiful,” written by James Blunt, in 2006. It was included in the I’m in the Mood for Love album and reached number 3 on the U.S. jazz charts.
Havana was the second single from the album titled The Moment, released in 1996. Written by Kenny G and Walter Afanasieff, this song peaked at number 10 on adult contemporary charts.
Hit songs aren’t the only accomplishment of this skilled sax player. Kenny G also earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1997. He played the longest note ever recorded on the saxophone. He held an E-flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds using a circular breathing technique at J&R Music World in New York City.
How to Inspire the Kenny G in Your Child
Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to motivate a child’s interest in music and playing an instrument. There are many ways to inspire a budding Kenny G in your household.
Listen to Music
The easiest way to get your child interested in music and instruments is to listen to them. Expose your child to the sounds of varying instruments of all types. Woodwinds, strings, percussion, brass, and keyboard sounds can arouse any kid’s interest.
Attend Performances Together
Listening to music together is a fantastic experience, especially when it’s a live performance. It doesn’t have to be a chart-topping band with expensive tickets. Check out a free concert at the city park or local school.
Encourage and assist your child in collecting music they really like, even if you don’t. The newest bands might not be your cup of tea, but when your kid owns their favorite songs, it gives them a feeling of autonomy that helps inspire new interests.
Learn to Play Yourself
Nothing inspires a child quite like watching their parents. Seeing you enjoy learning an instrument can motivate them to try it themselves.
Inspiring your child to take up an instrument is as simple as exposing them to music, performances, and lessons. The magical spark of interest happens naturally in the right circumstances.
Saxophone Lessons Are a Great Way to Appreciate Music
The saxophone is a fun instrument to learn, no matter how old you are. It’s also one of the easiest instruments for beginners to learn. Sloan is a music school that provides lessons (private, group, virtual, and so on) in a variety of musical disciplines and offers top-of-the-line musical instruments and accessories for sale, plus instrument rental programs for those who do not want to own their own.
Contact Sloan School of Music for more information about musical instruments, accessories, lessons, and more.