Kelley Hurt: No Tears Project Ensemble

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Kelley Hurt with No Tears Project Ensemble
North Little Rock, AR

About the Artist

The No Tears Project Ensemble is a jazz-inflected collective formed in 2017 and led by Arkansan-based vocalist Kelley Hurt and pianist Christopher Parker. The group’s repertoire is inspired by explorations into social equality and strives to create recognition as a precursor to reconciliation. Born from a musical composition (“No Tears Suite”) written by Parker and Hurt and commissioned by the nonprofit Oxford American magazine to honor the civil rights heroes the Little Rock Nine, No Tears has evolved into a touring group over the past six years. The ensemble’s second album is forthcoming in late 2024.

Past commissions written for the No Tears Project Ensemble include: a symphonic expansion of No Tears Suite by Grammy-nominated composer Rufus Reid; a suite of music and poetry composed by saxophonist Oliver Lake premiered in 2023 at Jazz St. Louis; a collaboration with pianist Donald Brown and trumpeter Marc Franklin; an original song written by Robert “Bobby LaVell” Garner; and a poem by Dr. Treasure Shields Redmond, honoring Dred and Harriett Scott. In 2024, the group will premiere new work by members of the group inspired by the story of activists Medgar and Myrlie Evers and others.

Memphis native vocalist Kelley Hurt comes from a musical family. She was the recipient of the Phillip’s Award for Best New Artist from the Memphis chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Hurt has toured and recorded with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Joe Walsh, Bruce Willis and the Accelerators, North Mississippi All-Stars, and many others. She has released one solo record Raindance (Archer Records, 2003), plus No Tears Suite (Mahakala, 2020) with Christopher Parker, and appeared on many other recordings, recently as a frequent guest on the avant-jazz label Mahakala Music. Hurt has toured the US, Europe, and the Middle East.

Arkansas native pianist Christopher Parker’s playing associations range from free jazz musicians Kidd Jordan, William Parker, and Douglas Ewart to Brian Blade, Delfeayo Marsalis, Joe Jennings, and Blues musicians Luther and Cody Dickinson, among others. He has appeared on over 20 albums. Parker holds a Master’s degree in Music from the University of Memphis, focusing on jazz composition and 20th-century classical piano performance. He has taught from the elementary to collegiate level in New York, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Parker has performed in the US, South America, and Europe.


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