From Memphis to Mars started, we did theatres and arenas, but not full
like, ‘Huh?’ They didn’t know I could sing.”
tions in the heart of Texas — there’s more to a
Bomb threats in Honolulu. Arctic-like condi-
arenas. Little clubs, stuff like that. To go from
Which leads to the bigger picture for Whalum.
Bruno Mars tour than just screaming fans. Just
that in 2011, and that was my first tour fresh off
ask former U of M student Kameron Whalum.
of school, to two years later selling out arenas
make a name for himself. He played his first-ever
and playing in the Super Bowl, it is a dream
solo show at the Hard Rock Café in Memphis — a
sellout — in February, followed by performances
Whalum is a member of Mars’ live band, the Grammy-nominated Hooligans. The University of Memphis Magazine talked
Whalum has played the Grammys twice,
When he is not on tour, he is busy working to
in Atlanta that received rave reviews.
to Whalum just before the platinum-selling
with Mars and The Hooligans teaming with
group’s 40-plus city Moonshine Jungle Tour
Rhianna and Sting for a three-song tribute to
name. When my stint with Bruno is over, or
that included a sold-old performance at FedEx-
reggae legend Bob Marley at this year’s show.
when I am taking a break, I still want to be
Forum in downtown Memphis in June. “The University was definitely a major boost to my aspirations and to my musical career,”
The group was the halftime headline act at the Super Bowl in February, playing before tens of millions of fans at the game and on TV.
says Whalum, who was a member of the jazz
“It was so cold at the rehearsals, 10 degrees,
band at the U of M and who calls the Scheidt
my trombone froze up,” laughs Whalum. “Luckily,
School of Music “extraordinary.”
it was a pleasant 45 degrees the day of the game.”
A trombonist and singer, Whalum was picked
Besides the Super Bowl, the group has per-
“I want to spread my brand, spread my
relevant. A lot of people don’t know me for my singing unless they go to my church.” Whalum’s life hasn’t been all music. Flash back to 2002. “Ever since I was little, all I wanted to do was to play basketball for the Tigers,” says Whalum. “That was it. I was a ballboy for the Tigers
by Mars to be a part of his band in 2011, just
formed on Saturday Night Live, The Today Show
when I was 11, 12, 13 years old. It was during
out of school.
and another spot that had people saying, “Huh?”
the Antonio Burks era. It was going to be the
“I feel like I joined Bruno right on the tail end of the takeoff,” recalls Whalum. “When I 4
FA L L 2 014
“First time I sang on TV with Bruno was on the Ellen Show,” says Whalum. “People were
Tigers and then the NBA.” But then entered a “Mr. Piecuch.” THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS
University of Memphis Fall Magazine