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Ursula Walker

PERFORMING (1952-present)
2019, performed with Detroit jazz all-stars at tribute to Detroit saxophone legend, George Benson at Detroit Jazz Festival

2019, performed at V.I.P. party to open Detroit Jazz Festival

2018, 2013, performed with internationally-acclaimed bassist, Rodney Whitaker, and the Michigan State U. Professors of Jazz, in an all-star Christmas concert, and with Whitaker in past years at his Women in jazz Concert Series and as a guest artist and clinician at his Michigan State University Jazzorama

2018, 2013, led her sextet in performances at Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown Concert Hall

2016-17, performed with the Detroit Jazz Festival All-Stars at the Mackinac Island Policy Conference

2015, performed at 100th Anniversary Tribute to Billie Holiday with the Wayne State U. Jazz Band at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall and again at the Detroit Jazz Festival

2015, performed Irish jazz with Chris Collins’ Jazz From the Shamrock Shore at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

2015, performed at the Concert of Colors Tribute to trumpet legend, Marcus Belgrave, at Orchestra Hall

2014-15, featured vocalist with Detroit jazz Festival All-Stars at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe and Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown Concert Hall

2014, performed with the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra, led by and in tribute to iconic Detroit big band leader, Jimmy Wilkins

2014, featured vocalist with the Detroit Jazz Festival All-Stars in a Tribute to Horace Silver and Detroit saxophone legend, Sonny Red

2013, performed with internationally-acclaimed pianist Geri Allen and Detroit jazz all-stars at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor

2013, featured artist at the Grove Music Festival in Midland, Michigan

2013 and 2012, featured artist at the Detroit Jazz Festival-sponsored Divas Concert at the Eleanor and Edsel Ford House

2013 and 2004, collaborated with Detroit Dance Collective in staging multi-media jazz-dance concerts

2012, featured soloist on “The Sacred Music of Duke Ellington”, first at Orchestra Hall and, later that year, at the Detroit Jazz Festival

2012, led her own group as a featured artist at the Detroit Jazz Festival

2011, as one of Aretha Franklin’s favorite jazz vocalists, performed at her annual Christmas party, and for Aretha on many occasions in past years

2011, in concert at Orchestra Hall as part of the Detroit Symphony’s Jazz Educational Series

2010, performed at the Grand Hotel Jazz Festival on Mackinac Island

Performed many times at the Detroit Jazz Festival (formerly, the Ford/Detroit International Jazz Festival, and the Montreux/Detroit Jazz Festival) since its inception in the early 1980’s through, and including, 2019

Opened concerts for many international artists, including Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Tania Maria

2002, performed “Shop Around” for Smoky Robinson, upon his receiving the International Achievement Award at the Michigan Governor’s Arts Awards

1998, performed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with the Detroit Jazz All-Stars, which included trumpeter, Marcus Belgrave and saxophonist, George Benson

1992-94, led a 6-piece group, featuring Belgrave and Benson

1984-85, featured vocalist on soundtrack of Fox Network sitcom, “Duet”

’80’s, sang locally with the Stan Kenton Band

1975-’80’s, sang National Anthem at final Detroit Lions game at Tiger Stadium and then at many games at the Silverdome

1976, performed Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” with the Detroit Symphony

Performed, over the years, with a number of community symphony orchestras, including the Southfield, Royal Oak, Rochester, and Warren, and Pontiac/Oakland Symphony Orchestras

1969, began a 21-year association as featured vocalist with the 21-piece Brookside Jazz Ensemble, initiating the popular “P’Jazz” Series at Detroit’s Pontchartrain Hotel

’60’s, sang for four years with Jack Brokensha, internationally-known vibraphonist, formerly with the Australian Jazz Quintet

1960-63, featured performer on WJR-Radio in Detroit on the Music Hall Cavalcade with Jimmy Lontz

’50’s and ’60’s, in frequent demand as a commercial jingle singer

1956-1960, regular live performer on WJR-Radio in Detroit as a choral member and featured singer with Don Large and the Make Way For Youth Chorus

1951-’55, regular performer on the Auntie Dee Show, a popular children’s variety program on WXYZ-TV

2018, received Lifetime Achievement Award from Kimmie Horne at the Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival

2013, featured in PBS documentary, ”Detroit, Remember When: The History of Detroit Television”, as the first regularly-featured black entertainer on Detroit TV

2012, received Lifetime Achievement award at the Detroit Black Music Awards, honoring her then-60-year career as a jazz vocalist in Detroit

2011, honored by Detroit Symphony Orchestra for Contribution to the Detroit Jazz Community

2011, ’04, and ’00, was named Outstanding Jazz Vocalist at the Detroit Music Awards

2007, received the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Aretha Franklin Award in Recognition of Accomplishments in Performing Arts, presented by Aretha Franklin

2006, was honored by the Detroit Metro Area Musicians and Entertainers Association with the Teddy Harris, Jr. Legendary Music Award

2000, was elected to the Metro Times Music Awards Hall of Fame

2000, received the Southeastern Michigan jazz Association (SEMJA) Jazz Artist of the Year Award for Contributions to the Performing Arts and Excellence in Music

1997, received the Midwest Arts Legends of Jazz Hall of Fame Award

1997, was honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the People of Wayne County

1995, received the Michigan Council For the Arts Outstanding Musicians Award

1979, won the Clio Award for best vocal performance on a commercial

’70’s, entertained offers to tour internationally with the Harry James Band, the Stan Kenton Band, the Count Basie Band, and as an opening act for Tony Bennett, all of which Ursula elected to turn down to remain in Detroit with her young children

1960, traveled to New York to audition with Harry Belafonte for his upcoming television special, was considered too youthful-looking for the ingenue part, but was subsequently offered a contract with the William Morris Agency, which Ursula declined as she was not ready to travel at the time

1953-54, at the age of 12-13, performed at the iconic Ziggy Johnson Extrvaganza at Detroit’s Latin Quarter, the premier showplace for national and local black performers in the city

1953, at the age of 12, received offer to record with Mercury Records, which was turned down because of her age

1953, presented with a special award at the Detroit News Music Festival for being the youngest performer in the Festival

For the past 8 years, mentor for the winning vocalist for the Detroit Jazz Festival-sponsored Diva Competition

Over the years, put on clinics at Detroit-area schools and colleges, including University of Michigan and U of M/Dearborn, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and Northwestern Michigan College

2016, guest artist mentoring cast of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at Detroit Country Day School

2014-18, Detroit Jazz Festival-sponsored mentor to the jazz vocal program at Detroit School of Arts

1998, joined the Sisters in Jazz mentoring program, an endeavor devoted to mentoring and encouraging young, talented women in jazz music, and performed with them at the Montreux/Detroit Jazz Festival

Early ’90’s, jazz vocal chair at the Center for Creative Studies Institute of Music and Dance

’80’s, mentored young people at the Actors’ Alliance Theatre Company

Past 7 years, led musical performance at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall and Book Cadillac Hotel to raise funds for multiple myeloma research

2014-17, led musical performance for the “Night For Sight” to benefit vision research

Helped establish and performed for the Henry Ford Hospital-West Bloomfield Music Heals Program

2011, as volunteer, performer and planner on the steering committee, of fundraising event at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall to benefit Children’s Leukemia

1994-2011, as volunteer, sang the National Anthem and a song for the survivors of breast cancer at the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race For the Cure

For many years, volunteered her talents for cancer-related events for Karmanos and Gilda’s Club

1997-99, served as board member for C.H.I.P. (Creative Healing Initiative Partnership), organization dedicated to addressing the under-met healthcare needs of the artistic community

’70’s-’90’s and beginning again in 2018, regular participant in fund-raising events for Focus Hope

’80’s, co-hosted, with Soupy Sales, the Telethon For the Mentally Retarded

’70’s-’80’s, performed at many events for Head Start

’70’s-’80’s, regular participant at events and Telethons For Muscular Dystrophy

’60’s, performed for inmates at Jackson State Penitentiary

1953-60, beginning in the final year of the Korean War, entertained service men and women for the U.S.O.

2013 Today and Yesterday”, Ursula Walker

2011 “New Beginnings”, Doug Halladay

1998 “Unwind”, Compilation of Detroit jazz Artists, Creative Healing Initiative Partnership and Gilda’s Club

1998 “Hope For the Holidays”, Detroit Jazz Greats, S & S Entertainment Group

1997 “You Be the Judge”, Myron Wahls Trio

1995 “Focusing the Vision”, Vincent York

1988-89 Sound Track of Fox Television Network sitcom, “Duet”

1982 “The Montreux/Detroit Collection, Volume Two: An Evening of Song”

1981 “Cookbook No. 1”, Brookside Jazz Ensemble

1976 “Boppin’ at Bobbie’s”, Jack Brokensha Trio, featuring Ursula Walker

1975 “Jazz Mass”, James Tatum

2002-19, wrote and performed lyrics to numerous jazz instrumentals

upcoming events






Ursula Walker and Buddy Budson, 2020 Detroit Jazz Festival Legacy Artists, will be appearing at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2021, with their sextet. The sextet includes URSULA WALKER, vocals; BUDDY BUDSON, piano; JEFF HALSEY, bass; DAVE TAYLOR, drums; DWIGHT ADAMS, trumpet; and KEITH KAMINSKI, saxophones. The sextet will be performing standards, jazz classics, ballads, with a special focus on jazz standards with lyrics written by Ursula and Buddy.

The Dirty Dog Jazz Café is located at 97 Kercheval Ave, Grosse Pointe Farms *RESERVATIONS: (313) 882-5299

*Specific dinner seating times and band performance times will be announced as we get closer to the performance dates.



The Ursula Walker/Buddy Budson Quartet featuring bassist, Jeff Halsey and drummer, Dave Taylor, will be presenting a special narrated concert of The Music of the Great Jewish Broadway Composers for the Jewish Ensemble Theatre’s 2020 Jazz Series, on Sunday, January 12.



Ursula Walker will be a featured artist on Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation Family Holiday Jazz Concert and Jazz Parrandas with Papo Vazquez, Jose Mangual Jr, Carlos Maldonado, Perry Hughes, Dwight Adams, Cliff Monear, Paul Keller, Sean Dobbins, Ozzie Rivera and Eddie Caraballo



Ursula Walker performs with an all-star band at a Tribute to George Benson, the legendary Detroit saxophonist who died earlier this year. The band includes: Dwight Adams, trumpet; Russ Miller, alto saxophone; Chris Collins, tenor saxophone; Rick Margitza, tenor saxophone; Buddy Budson, piano; Dan Kolton, bass; and Sean Dobbins, drums. The set is 5:45-7:00 at the Waterfront Stage at Hart Plaza.



Ursula Walker and Buddy Budson appear, as mentors, at event where the student winner of the Detroit Jazz Festival Vocal Competition, Joe Thomas sings one of Ursula’s big band arrangements with the Wayne State University Jazz Big Band. The set is 1:15-2:30 at the Carhartt Amphitheatre Stage at Hart Plaza.



The Ursula Walker Quartet, with Buddy Budson, piano; Jeff Halsey, bass; and Dave Taylor, drums performs for the opening event of the Detroit Jazz Festival, the V.I.P. Party at the plaza of the Chase Bank, downtown Detroit.
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