Gary Starling is a veteran of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, including 15 performances since 1985. Starling has also performed in local jazz clubs and private venues throughout the North Florida area. He has also appeared at the Hilton Head Jazz Society and the Gainesville Friends of Jazz. Starling’s professional jazz career began at 16, playing with Doug Carne at the El Dorado Lounge on Moncrief Road. During the late 60s and 70s, Starling encountered many of his heroes in music while on the road including Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, George Benson, John McGlauglin, Barney Kessell, Herb Ellis, Howard Roberts, and Jimmy Smith.
In the 80s, Starling was hired by Fran Kinne to teach jazz and jazz guitar at Jacksonville University. He is currently the Artist in Residence and has shared his passion for jazz for many years with his students. In addition to teaching jazz, Starling has served as a clinician for AT&T Jazz in the Schools program. He also appeared on WJCT radio shows and has been a judge for the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. For his talent and dedication to jazz education, Gary Starling has been inducted into the 2012 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.