Ken Nordine (born April 13, 1920) is an American voiceover and recording artist best known for his series of Word Jazz albums. His deep, resonant voice has also been featured in many commercial advertisements and movie trailers. One critic wrote that "you may not know Ken Nordine by name or face, but you'll almost certainly recognize his voice."
Life and career
The son of Theresia and Nore S. Nordine, a contractor, Ken Nordine was born in Cherokee, Iowa. The family later moved to Chicago, where he attended Lane Technical College Prep High Schooland the University of Chicago. He has three sons with his wife Beryl whom he married in 1945. During the 1940s, he was heard on The World's Great Novels and other radio programs broadcast from Chicago. He attracted wider attention when he recorded the aural vignettes on Word Jazz (Dot, 1957). Word Jazz, Son of Word Jazz (Dot, 1958) and his other albums in this vein feature Nordine's narration over cool jazz by the Chico Hamilton jazz group, recording under the alias of Fred Katz, who was then the cellist with Hamilton's quintet.
Nordine began performing and recording such albums at the peak of the beat era and was associated with the poetry-and-jazz movement. However, some of Nordine's "writings are more akin toFranz Kafka or Edgar Allan Poe" than to the beats. Many of his word jazz tracks feature critiques of societal norms. Some are lightweight and humorous, while others reveal dark, paranoidundercurrents and bizarre, dream-like scenarios. Nordine's DVD, The Eye Is Never Filled, (2005) provides a flow of abstract visuals to accompany the audio tracks.
Nordine currently hosts a weekly radio program and maintains residences in Chicago, Illinois, and Spread Eagle, Wisconsin.
Films and television
Nordine appeared as the narrator, credited as "The Stranger," in Philip Kaufman's 1967 underground comedy Fearless Frank. He was also Linda Blair's vocal coach for her role in The Exorcist.
On television, Nordine did a series of readings on a show titled Faces in the Window, and Fred Astaire danced to Nordine's "My Baby" on a TV special. Nordine's past radio series were Now Nordine and Word Jazz.