Much like his music, there is really no pigeon-holing Brian Culbertson.
The multi-instrumentalist with 25 albums and 40 Billboard No. 1 singles is also a visual artist and has a wine club.
“I am inspired by all the visual arts, from photography, filmmaking, graphic design, architecture, sculpture, and fine art,” he says on his website.
He may love art in all its forms, but when he comes to The Clyde Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 30, his attention will be on his bread and butter: contemporary jazz.
8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30
The Clyde Theatre
1808 Bluffton Road, Fort Wayne
$39-$74 · (260) 747-0989
Prior to his visit to Fort Wayne, the man of many hats was in Chicago from Sept. 14-16, hosting a Jazz Getaway, which he also does in New Orleans (March 14-17) and Napa, California (June 5-9). With the Chicago Jazz Getaway behind him, Culbertson’s focus is now on his Trilogy Tour, which kicks off Thursday, Sept. 21, in Chesterfield, Missouri.
Showcasing his work ethic, Culbertson will play 10 shows in 11 nights, wrapping up Oct. 1 in Madison, Wisconsin. Following a month off, he’ll get right back on the road.
On tour, he’ll be performing from his three-album Trilogy collection. The Trilogy began with Red on Sept. 24, 2021. Blue followed on Jan. 14, 2022, and White closed out the “three-part arc of a long-term relationship” on May 6, 2022.
“Hearing the three albums in a row provides the context,” Culbertson says on his website. “All the songs on Red were clearly about passion and love. Blue is melancholy and sad songs, breakup songs and ‘losing people’ songs. Once you get to part three, White is all about songs that have an uplifting feel to them. Emotionally, they all feel similar even though they are stylistically broad.”
Before embarking on any of his business endeavors, Culbertson was a college student trying to make his way in the music world.
The son of a music teacher, Culbertson was attending DePaul University in Chicago when he recorded Long Night Out in 1994. Sending the album to Mesa/Blue Moon, he received a record deal and has not looked back, releasing 25 albums in 29 years, as well as two live records.
Along the way, his talent has been awarded with numerous honors, including Keyboardist of the Year at the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards in 2001, International Artist of the Year at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards in 2010, and Artist of the Year by the Smooth Jazz Network in 2020. His busiest year came in 2011 following the release of XII. That year he won six awards at the Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards for Entertainer of the Year, Keyboardist of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Song of the Year for “That’s Life,” Album of the Year, and Collaboration of the Year with Earl Klugh.
Klugh was featured on the song “That’s Life,” but he wasn’t the only musician Culbertson collaborated with on XII, as Faith Evans, Chuck Brown, Kenny Lattimore, Brian McKnight, Avant, and Ray Parker Jr. are also featured.
The performers on that album are only a sampling of the heavy-hitters he’s shared a studio or stage alongside. A small sampling of that list includes Stevie Wonder, Bootsy Collins, Prince, Michael McDonald, Buddy Guy, and Barry Manilow.