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Kristopher Bowers (born 1989) is an American composer and pianist who has composed scores for films, video games, television and documentaries including, Green Book, Madden NFL, Dear White People, and Kobe Bryant's Muse. He has recorded, performed, and collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and José James. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2011 and a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in 2017 for The Snowy Day. Bowers worked on the score of Ava DuVernay's Netflix mini-series When They See Us.

Kris Bowers
Born1989 (age 29–30)
Los Angeles, California
GenresJazz, classical, electronic, ambient
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, producer
InstrumentsPiano, keyboards
Years active2010s–present

Life and careerEdit

Bowers was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1989.[1] His father is a film and television writer, and his mother is an executive at DirecTV.[2] Although neither of his parents received more than a high school education,[3][time needed] they wanted their son to play the piano, so they played recordings of pianists while he was still in the womb. They sent him to lessons beginning at the age of 4.[2] He had private classical music lessons starting at around the age of 9.[2] He listened to "classic soul records and hip-hop before falling under the spell of jazz, classical music, and film scores."[1] He studied jazz and classical piano at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts[1] where his teachers included Mulgrew Miller and Donald Vega.[4] He studied jazz at Colburn School for Performing Arts.[5] He graduated in 2006[5] then attended Juilliard and obtained a bachelor's and master's degree in jazz performance.[1] While a student, he performed frequently in New York City.[1]

In the same year, he played on Watch the Throne, a Jay Z and Kanye West album.[6] He then toured with Marcus Miller during 2012.[7] He has collaborated with musicians in several genres.[8][9]

In late 2013, he recorded his debut album Heroes + Misfits (Concord, 2014).[10] An AllMusic reviewer commented that the pianist was "based in jazz but with an ear for contemporary R&B, film scores, and electronic music".[10] The album premiered at No. 1 on the iTunes Jazz charts.[11]

In 2014, Bowers performed at the International Jazz Day Concert in Japan,[12][13] the Festival de Jazz de Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain,[14] and at the London Jazz Festival.[15] In 2016, Bowers was invited to perform at The White House for the International Jazz Day Concert hosted by President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama.[16]

Film scoringEdit

His first film composition was for the 2013 documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me.[17] Two years later Bowers' work on the 2015 Showtime documentary Kobe Bryant's Muse gained him attention as an up-and-coming composer well-versed in a wide range of compositional styles.[18] In the same year, he scored two other Showtime documentaries: I Am Giant[6] about the football player Victor Cruz and Play It Forward about Tony Gonzalez. He was one of six composers invited to the Sundance Composers Lab in 2015.[19]

Bowers also worked on the documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You and the film Little Boxes, as well as the television programs Religion of Sports and Dear White People.[20][21] Also in 2016, Bowers composed music for the Amazon children's Christmas special, The Snowy Day, based on the 1962 book of the same title by Ezra Jack Keats.[22][23] It was for this show that Bowers received a Daytime Emmy in 2017.[24][25][26]

During the same period, basketball player Kobe Bryant approached Bowers about composing music for his post-basketball transition into film and television production.[6] When asked about the choice to create an original piece of music for an advertisement, Bryant said, "I thought it was very important for the brand to have an anthem... that's a Bodyarmor 'Obsession is Natural' track."[27]

Bowers wrote the score for the 2018 film Green Book.[28] He was also the piano teacher for the film's star, Mahershala Ali, and was Ali's stand in for some close ups of hands playing.[28]

Bowers wrote the score for Ava DuVernay's mini-series When They See Us.[29]

Collaborating and performingEdit

In 2015, Bowers teamed up with the choreographer Kyle Abraham, to create Absent Matter, which premiered at the Joyce Theater in New York City.[30] During the following year, Bowers and Abraham collaborated again on Untitled America for Alvin Ailey.[31][32]

Bowers performed at the White House for the 2016 International Jazz Day, hosted by President of the United States Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.[33] Bowers participated as a composer in the Sundance Film Composers Lab at Skywalker Sound in 2015.[34]

Bowers shows a continuous interest in pairing his music with extensive and immersive dining experiences. In 2016, he was hired by Bang & Olufsen to create a score to accompany a multi-course meal prepared by chef Fredrik Berselius.[35] In 2017, Krug commissioned Bowers to write compositions inspired by and paired with a signature Krug champagne.[36]

Playing styleEdit

In a review of one of his early shows as a bandleader, The New York Times referred to Bowers' playing as "serious, thoughtful, organized, restrained; he made the piano sound good. His set had range and ambition and said something strong, sweet, and normative about phrasing and rhythm in jazz right now."[37]


Bowers' influences include "Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly ('for his comping and incredible feel'), Duke Ellington ('for his compositions'), Ahmad Jamal and Count Basie".[7]

Awards and honorsEdit


An asterisk (*) indicates that the year is that of release.

As leader/co-leaderEdit

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
2012 Heroes + Misfits Concord With Adam Agati (guitar), Burniss Earl Travis II (electric bass), Jamire Williams (drums); some tracks with Casey Benjamin (alto sax, vocoder) added; some tracks with Kenneth Whalum III (tenor sax) added; vocalists added are Chris Turner (3 tracks), Julia Easterlin (1 track), José James (1 track)

As sidemanEdit

Year recorded Leader Title Label
2010–11 Jay Z and Kanye West Watch the Throne Roc-A-Fella, Roc Nation, Def Jam
2013* Etienne Charles Creole Soul Culture Shock
2013* Next Collective Cover Art Concord
2014* Robin Eubanks Klassik Rock, Vol. 1 Artist Share
2014* José James While You Were Sleeping Blue Note
2014* Takuya Kuroda Rising Son Blue Note
2014* Harvey Mason Chameleon Concord Jazz
2016* A Tribe Called Quest We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service Epic
2017* Maurice Brown The Mood Ropeadope



  1. ^ a b c d e Collar, Matt. "Kris Bowers". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Thomas, Greg (26 January 2012). "Still a Juilliard jazz student, Kris Bowers plays award-winning Monk with knowing, modern edge". Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  3. ^ All of the Above, Podcast. All of the Above Podcast. PodcastOne.
  4. ^ Murph, John (25 March 2014). "Kris Bowers: New Power Generation". JazzTimes. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b Beener, Angelika "On the Rise: A Conversation with Kris Bowers". Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Tinubu, Aramide (23 May 2017). "EXCLUSIVE: Kris Bowers On Scoring 'Dear White People,' Loving Music & Working With Kobe Bryant -". Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b Micallef, Ken (April 2014) "Kris Bowers – Cinematic Listening". Down Beat. p. 24.
  8. ^ "Jose James and Kris Bowers Live at Sculler's in Boston". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  9. ^ "Jose James, Kris Bowers". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  10. ^ a b Collar, Matt "Kris Bowers – Heroes + Misfits". AllMusic. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "Kris Bowers". Harlem Arts Festival. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  12. ^ "Kris Bowers Photos Photos: International Jazz Day in Osaka". Zimbio. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  13. ^ "Global Concert 2014". International Jazz Day. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  14. ^ "Festival Jazz de Vitoria-Gasteiz | 39 Edición: Del 11 al 15 de Julio de 2017". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  15. ^ Flynn, Mike. "Kris Bowers at XOYO, London – EFG London Jazz Festival". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  16. ^ music, Guardian (2016-03-31). "Barack Obama to host International Jazz Day concert at White House". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  17. ^ Beachum, Zach Laws, Chris (2017-05-25). "Kris Bowers ('Dear White People' composer): The show is 'speaking to a lot of people's truths'". GoldDerby. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  18. ^ "Kris Bowers: A Muse to Musicians". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  19. ^ "Sundance Institute and Skywalker Sound Announce Independent Filmmakers and Film Composers for July Music and Sound Design Labs". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  20. ^ "Composer and Jazzman: Kris Bowers on Dear White People". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  21. ^ "Kris Bowers on Composing Netflix's Adaptation Of 'Dear White People'". Awards Daily. 2017-06-12. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  22. ^ a b "The Snowy Day is Amazon's beautiful, hopeful addition to television Christmas specials". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  23. ^ "The Snowy Day, Emmy-winning Holiday Special". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  24. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2017-04-29). "Amazon & Netflix Lead Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Winners - Full List". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  25. ^ "Daytime Emmys: DreamWorks' 21 Nominations Tops Animation Competition". Animation Magazine. 2017-03-24. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  26. ^ Montgomery, Daniel (2017-06-30). "'Dear White People' renewed for season 2 by Netflix, so curb your microaggressions!". GoldDerby. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  27. ^ "Creative Director Kobe Bryant Leads Bodyarmor's First Multi-Million Dollar National Ad Campaign". SportTechie. 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  28. ^ a b c O'Connell, Sean J. (February 2019). "Bowers Explores Shirley's Work for 'Green Book' Film". DownBeat. Vol. 86 no. 2. p. 23.
  29. ^ "Kris Bowers to Score Ava DuVernay's Netflix Series 'When They See Us' | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  30. ^ "Kyle Abraham / Abraham.In.Motion – The Quiet Dance, Absent Matter, The Gettin'". DanceTabs. 2015-11-13. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  31. ^ "Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - April 27–30 Wang Theatre". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  32. ^ "Alvin Ailey's 'Untitled America' tackles mass incarceration". NBC News. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  33. ^ "The International Jazz Day Global Concert 2016". Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  34. ^ "Sundance Institute and Skywalker Sound Announce Independent Filmmakers and Film Composers for July Music and Sound Design Labs". June 30, 2015.
  35. ^ "Bang & Olufsen – The Future Series". Decon. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  36. ^ "Photos: Krug Journey Southampton with Eleven Madison Park". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  37. ^ Ratliff, Ben (2011-12-02). "Kris Bowers at Jazz Gallery - Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  38. ^ "Pianist Kris Bowers Wins 2011 Thelonious Monk Competition". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  39. ^ "Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  40. ^ "The Snowy Day, Emmy®-winning Holiday Special | The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation". Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  41. ^ "Critics' Choice Awards". Critics' Choice Awards. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  42. ^ "Kristopher Bowers". Jackie Robinson Foundation. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  43. ^ DeFore, John (March 25, 2014) "Seeds of Time: SXSW Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  44. ^ Holden, Stephen (February 20, 2014). "Recalling Velvet, Pretzels and Beer, She's Still Here". The New York Times.
  45. ^ Lowry, Brian (February 17, 2015) "TV Review: 'Kobe Bryant's Muse'". Variety.
  46. ^ a b c d Murph, John (July 2016) "Kris Bowers". Down Beat. p. 33.
  47. ^ "'Copwatch' Documentary Profiles WeCopWatch Members". EURweb. 2017-09-26. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  48. ^ "Kris Bowers to Score Ava DuVernay's Netflix Series 'When They See Us' | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 2019-04-03.

External linksEdit