Carl Winters


The Kalimba King


Carl with Kalimbas 

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Carl Winters' Biography

Carl Winters was born and raised near San Antonio, Texas. In the mid 1950's, after hearing his uncles sing in a gospel quintet called "The Spiritual Five", he was inspired to join the church choir at age 5. Some of his uncles also played the fiddle. During this same time, Texas blues guitar slingers Lightnin' Hopkins, Freddie King and T-Bone Walker were just as much a part of Texas as the Alamo. These elements, combined with rhythm and blues, country and mariachi music gave Winters a broad music foundation. This diverse foundation continued to broaden, thanks to the rich and thriving jazz scene he experienced in Houston while a student at Texas Southern University during the mid 1970's. Suddenly, a spark ignited Winters' musical imagination. That spark came in the form of an Earth, Wind, and Fire concert where he witnessed Maurice White, founder and kalimba (African thumb piano) player of the group, get excess mileage from the instrurnent. Evidently, Winters was not the only one impacted by White's playing. As a matter of fact, kalimba sales skyrocketed across the country as hundreds of Earth, Wind and Fire fans bought and "played" the instrument. But by the late 1970's the kalimba rage had faded as so often is the case with music trends. 

As for Winters, it had been much more than a trend. Playing the kalimba and studying the instrument's history had become a mission. Thus, the journey began, and after two decades of jamming with various bands, Winters commenced to offer his kalimba expertise to all types of venues including, but not limited to, universities, festivals, public schools and libraries. He received his first formal music training from Texas Southern University music professor Howard Harris. However, Winters does find himself in a rather unique, yet pleasing position. Even though the kalimba is indigenous to parts of Africa, he does not play African music per se. Since he cut his teeth on gospel, blues, jazz and rhythm and blues, these genres always manifest in his playing. Nevertheless, he is quick to add that "African sensibilities are a common denominator in everything I play whether it is a standard or an original." Winters' sound has been described as funky yet spacey, earthy yet celestial, charismatic yet serene, and contemporary yet timeless. We invite you to choose a modifier. But first you must choose to listen.