Iconic jazz musician, 87-year-old Kenny Burrell, has worked with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, and other legends. That’s why fans were so surprised when Burrell’s wife, Katherine, recently launched a GoFundMe campaign on her husband’s behalf.
Burrell’s wife explained that the $100,000 GoFundMe campaign was necessary due to recent hard times that have befallen the couple.
Recent hardships include crushing medical debt and health issues, legal issues with their homeowners’ association, and even identity theft. Katherine Burrell shared that she and her husband were facing possible foreclosure and homelessness if the campaign was unsuccessful, as their debts were simply piling up too uncontrollably to be managed.
The $100,000 campaign has already raised over $145,000 in donations since May 9, so the Burrells should be able to get back on their feet to some extent with the help of generous funding from jazz fans.
Burrell’s Illustrious Musical Career
One of the reasons that fans were so shocked to hear the news of the Burrells’ financial troubles is that Kenny is one of the jazz community’s most successful icons.
An official NEA Jazz Master, Burrell has recorded hundreds of albums with dozens of jazz legends, taught music at UCLA since the 1970s, and served as the director of the school’s renowned jazz studies program for over 20 years.
But an accident in 2016 set him back, interfering with his potential earnings and piling up medical debts over time.
The Jazz Foundation’s Statement
In the wake of the crowdfunding campaign’s launch, some Burrell fans worried that it might not be legitimate. The Jazz Foundation of America felt moved to step in and verify the campaign’s authenticity on Burrell’s behalf, stating that fans could feel safe donating to the cause.
Representatives from the nonprofit, which provides necessary emergency funding to jazz and blues musicians, verified that they had assessed Burrell’s financial needs via medical bills and other official documents. While the JFA was able to help to some extent, the campaign was necessary to cover the rest of the costs.
UCLA, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that they, too, were looking into the matter. Burrell is currently on sabbatical from the school.