Kirk Lightsey’s profound pianisms originate from the Motor City. Kirk LIGHTSEY was born into Detroit 's rich music scene on February 15, 1937. He grew up in a town known for its jazz pianists, which included Hugh Lawson, Sir Roland Hanna, Barry Harris, Hank Jones and Tommy Flanigan, whose brother gave Lightsey his first piano lessons at the age of six. He then took lessons with Glady's Wade Dillard, who also taught pianists Barry Harris, Alice McCloud and Tommy Flanagan.
At Cass Technical High School Hugh Lawson and Paul Chambers introduced Kirk to playing jazz. They all performed in the school orchestra, which included Ron Carter and Kiane Zawadi. Late afternoons were often spent at Barry Harris' house where Lightsey would jam with Ira Jackson, Lonnie Hilliard and Charles McPherson. Under the tutelage of Harris they honed their improvisational skills. Kirk also learned about music by listening to his mother's record collection, and he went to hear all the Swing Era Stars who came to Detroit.