Ken Nordine (b. 1920)

The Eye Is Never Filled (2005)

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."

The son of an architect, Ken Nordine was born in Cherokee, Iowa. In Chicago he attended Lane Technical College Prep High School and the University of Chicago. He has three sons with his wife Beryl whom he married in 1945. He initially attracted attention when he recorded the aural vignettes on Word Jazz on Dot in 1957. Word Jazz, Son of Word Jazz (Dot, 1958) and his other albums in this vein feature Nordine's narration over a cool jazz background. He began performing and recording such albums at the peak of the beat movement and was associated with the poetry-and-jazz movement. However, some of Nordine's "writings are more akin to Franz 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, paranoid undercurrents and bizarre, dream-like scenarios.

Nordine was Linda Blair's vocal coach for her role in The Exorcist,and Word Jazz inspired Tom Waits' spooky, spoken word-type pieces, such as "9th and Hennepin," "Frank's Wild Years" and "What's He Building?"

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. He currently hosts a weekly radio program and maintains residences in Chicago, Illinois, and Spread Eagle, Wisconsin.