A GoFundMe page started by Katherine Burrell, wife of 87 year old legendary jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, has raised more questions than it answers.
The Burrells are asking for money for rent and health-related issues. But it doesn’t quite make sense. Last September, UCLA endowed a chair at its Herb Alpert music school for $1.2 million in Kenny’s name. (Burrell doesn’t get that money.) UCLA was caught off guard by the appeal when I asked. They responded with this statement:
“UCLA was unaware of Katherine Burrell’s crowdfunding activity on behalf of herself and husband, Kenny. UCLA is concerned and is looking into the circumstances of this matter. Kenny Burrell is a Distinguished Professor of Music and Global Jazz Studies at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. Professor Burrell is currently on sabbatical, and is scheduled to return to UCLA for the Spring Quarter in March 2020. He remains a full-time faculty member with related compensation and health benefits.”
Katherine Burrell has already raised $71,979 toward a goal of $100,000. She writes on GoFundMe a tale of surprising woe: “We are facing possible foreclosure and homelessness if the HOA wins a judgment against us. If we are unable to pay the judgment, they have the right to foreclose on our property. I am fearful of homelessness for Kenny’s sake, and terrified of how I will care for him if left without a home. We will have to move out of our apartment in the next 1-2 weeks for demolition, which will include mold remediation, lead abatement, and major construction. None of this will be covered by insurance, and the HOA may be successful in passing all of the costs to us. I can’t maintain Kenny’s health and safety in that kind of environment.”
If Burrell is truly in need, there’s no question that his fans and friends should come to his rescue. But the appeal doesn’t completely make sense since he definitely has resources starting with UCLA as well as MusiCares and many devoted patrons. It remains to be seen what’s actually going on here. It could be that Mrs. Burrell, who says she’s the sole caregiver, is overwhelmed and needs help.