Jazz singer Kevin Mahogany dead at 59
American jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany was found dead on Sunday (Dec. 17) at his home in Kansas City, Mo. He was 59. Mahogany, who became prominent in the 1990s, died of a heart attack off the record, but doctors have not yet officially determined the cause of death.
Kevin Bryant Mahogany was born in Kansas City on July 30, 1958, the son of James and Carrie Lee Mahogany. He started playing piano in third grade, then briefly took up the clarinet. He switched to the baritone saxophone, and at age 12 earned a spot in Eddie Baker’s New Breed Jazz Orchestra, a local big band.
It was not until Mr. Mahogany discovered “Look to the Rainbow,” a live album by Al Jarreau, that he began to explore jazz vocalists more fully. He worked his way back to Kansas City’s lineage of male singers, while also internalizing the more erudite styles of Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson.
He attended Lincoln College Preparatory Academy and Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., where he studied music. It was at Baker that he began to consider himself a vocalist; the university did not offer classes in jazz singing, so he studied operatic vocals and helped start a student jazz choir.
After graduating from Baker, he returned to Kansas City. Kevin Mahogany was well known for his scat singing, and his singing style has been compared with jazz singers Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams and Johnny Hartman.