When Tim Cunningham was faced with the choice between the football field or the musical stage, lucky for us, he chose the latter. Having played the saxophone for over half his life, Tim spent his college years at Michigan State splitting his time between playing defense and playing music. And although a football scholarship saw him through school, his passion for the sax has carried him well beyond, as he passed up an NFL contract and eventually pursued a career in music.
For decades the words “smooth , sultry, cool & funky” have been used to describe Tim’s high energy and emotional stage show as his sexy blend of smooth jazz and soulful R&B connects with people of all ages, races and genres of music. This unique and versatile style has earned Tim the pleasure of opening for such jazz greats as Dave Koz, Norman Brown, Brian Culbertson and George Benson. On the flip side, his bumpin’ R&B flavor has on occasion paired him with Earth Wind & Fire, Cameo, Boyz II Men, Patti Labelle, Frankie Beverly, Jeffrey Osborne, and the late Luther Vandross.
Signed to Atlantic Records in 1996 his first major label release, “Right Turn Only” featured the efforts of Will Downing, Brian Culbertson, Kevin Whalum, and Bobby Lyle. It’s featured single, “This is the Life,” hit #19 on the Smooth Jazz Chart and received much international airplay. Tim’s additional CD credits include “Sax Change Operation”, “A Change in Altotude”, “Waiting For Love”, “Inner Peace”, and “Manchester Road” which was picked up by Nite Breeze Music/Universal in 2008. His 2011 release entitled “Reflection”, features a cool collection of original tracks packed with smooth grooves and emotional ballads. The “Tim Cunningham Live” album, where he covers some of his favorite songs, was released in 2012.
Tim’s new CD entitled “Freedom” was released in October 2022.
Tim hosted and was the opening act for the 1st Annual Smooth Jazz Cruise on Land in St. Louis on September 7, 2019 with Brian Culbertson, Eric Darius, Grace Kelly and Erin Bode produced by Entertainment Cruises Productions and producers of the Smooth Jazz Cruise.
Tim’s experiences bridge beyond the live stage to TV as he co-wrote and performed the theme song to 20th Century Fox’s “Bertice Berry Show”. He also appeared in the movie, “The Ghost Who Walks” as Officer Taylor, three episodes of “The Untouchables” TV series as the saxophonist, BET’s “Jazz Central and a Budweiser commercial. Tim also co-wrote a song with Al Caldwell entitled “Smile” from his “Waiting for Love” CD that will be a part of the movie “The Job” by actor, writer, director and producer Randy J. Goodwin that was released in 2021.
Tim credits his mother and his strong Christian beliefs for keeping him grounded as he strikes that delicate balance between the world of music and that of family man with his 3 children and wife of 30 years, all whom he has written and named songs for on past CDs. Tim continues to wow audiences near and far with his explosive live stage performance, which typically will take him out into the depths of his audience and yet he makes a point to stay after each show to sign every last CD sold. This approachable and down to earth quality is what endears Tim to his fan base…and his gift to touch their hearts with his music is what keeps ’em comin’ back for more!