“It is my mission to show people that flute that can be just as soulful and
down-and-dirty as sax.
My music sheds a whole new light on urban music and the flute’s place in it.
It’s flute for people who think they don’t like flute.
You’ve never heard it like this before.”
— Jef Kearns
Amazon best-selling Canadian solo artist Jef Kearns is transforming the flute from a background instrument to a serious soul voice in R&B and hip-hop.
Kearns first picked up the flute when he was ten years old, and living in southwestern Ontario. Although he studied with traditional jazz and classical teachers, he loved playing along with R&B and hip-hop stations broadcasting from Detroit. His goal, even from an early age, was to create a distinct and instantly identifiable flute sound with enough presence to command attention—just like an R&B singer’s voice.
Kearns, who says he saves his breath for the music, tells stories through his flute, like he would if he were singing or speaking. His flute is his voice. “For me the flute is an important instrument that has something to say,” he says. “Instead of grandstanding with how many notes I can play and how fast, the songs I write have an accessible melody and story arc that audiences can follow and connect with.”
What he has to say, together with his signature soul sound, is resonating with international audiences who listen to R&B, quiet storm and hip-hop music. Over his two decades as a professional musician, he’s built what would be considered an impressive online following for any independent artist. For a solo flute player it’s unprecedented.
Kearns’s professionally produced discography includes two full albums, Soulfisticated, and On the Level, two EPs called The Flute and Jazzy AF, as well as eight stand-alone singles. All of his works are available on his website, Amazon and across all major online streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.
His EP The Flute was released in 2016 and was the first flute album to chart as a #1 best-selling soul jazz and #2 best-selling contemporary R&B on Amazon. It also charted at #19 on the UK Soul Chart, a category usually dominated by vocalists, including Gregory Porter and Brian McKnight.
His album Soulfisticated (2013) forged a similar trailblazing path to success, hitting #1 on Amazon’s soul jazz charts in the USA, and #9 in Japan (between Janelle Monae’s “The Electric Lady” and Whitney Houston’s “Love, Whitney”). His single, “I Wanna Be the One” also charted in Japan, at #1 in Amazon’s soul jazz category and #2 for contemporary R&B.
Jef’s new EP, Jazzy AF, released in 2020 was touted by popular music critique site Divide and Conquer as “a blend of sounds that creates a soundscape that listeners can easily get lost in. Not merely an instrumental album, Jazzy AF sees the artist mixing genres and creating a new sound. Kearns’ command of the instrument is unmistakable.” The release also hit #1 chart position on renowned Jazziz Magazine’s “Top 5 Inside Tracks.”
His most dedicated fans follow his single releases on YouTube where he has surpassed 1.4 million views.
Jef’s YouTube cover of Warren G’s “Regulate” was recently featured in world renowned Hip Hop at Higher Level “XXL Magazine” in their Top 20 Covers of Hip Hop Using Instruments.
He also attracts audiences on Instagram and in his videos through his unique onstage style. Like Prince, David Bowie and other iconic artists, Kearns wears small label designer clothes from Canada and Europe as an intricately woven reflection of his character.
Jef Kearns is currently in the studio composing and working on his 2021 follow up to Jazzy AF.