American Idol Wiki

Kristopher Michael Pooley (born October 30, 1976) is an American pop/rock musician. He is the current music director for American Idol, having been employed in the position since Season 16 (2018).[1] He has also been former judge Katy Perry's personal music director for more than a decade.[1]


Early Life[]

Kris Pooley was born in Waterford Township, Michigan, the day before Halloween in 1976. Both of his parents were nearby Detroit-based musicians,[2] and he developed his own interest in instruments at a young age.[2] In particular, he was drawn to piano, woodwinds, and percussion.[2] After receiving his music degree from Wayne State University (also located in Detroit),[2] he explored Alaska before relocating to Los Angeles in pursuit of his music career.

Career Accomplishments[]

Upon moving to Los Angeles, Pooley found his niche as a vintage keyboard player, among other odd jobs. Eventually, he began to network with more high-profile clients. He became the music director for Gwen Stefani (from No Doubt)—which encompassed being her keyboardist and programmer as well. He has toured with Melissa Etheridge, The Smashing Pumpkins, Siouxsie Sioux (lead singer w/ The Banshees + of The Creatures), Morrissey (formerly of The Smiths), Liz Phair, Tegan & Sara, Jane's Addiction, The Vandals, Kenna, Colbie Caillat, Justincase, and Nick Lachey (of 98º).[2] He has also been the musical director for several other artists, such as P!nk, Ke$ha, BØRNS, Marshmello, Meghan Trainor, Niall Horan (from One Direction), OK Go, Miguel, Lea Michele, DNCE, Rita Ora, Demi Lovato; Idol Season 8 runner-up, Adam Lambert; current judge, Lionel Richie; and most notably, former Idol judge Katy Perry (who departed after Season 22).[1]

Pooley has maintained a collaborative working relationship with Perry for over a decade and a half, and served as the musical director (MD) for her Super Bowl XLIX (49th) Halftime Show in 2015,[3] which received universal critical acclaim. He also toured with her as MD for two successful worldwide tours: her pinnacle Prismatic (2013–2014)[4] and the subsequent Witness (2017–2018),[5] leading up to their employment on Idol. In the midst of Seasons 19 & 22, the two also constructed and orchestrated (with aid from plenty of others) her concert residency entitled Play (2021–2023), in Las Vegas.[1]

American Idol[]

Pooley was hired as the music director for Season 16 (2018), otherwise known as the first season of the ABC revival. He replaced former long-time music director, Rickey Minor. He has remained in that position as of Season 22 (2024).

His band members include or have included:

And the background vocalists (BGV) include or have included:

Personal Life[]

Pooley married Ginger Reyes, a.k.a. Ginger Sling—the bassist from Smashing Pumpkins,[15] on June 22, 2008. They met when Pooley played with the band in the past, including one performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The following year, Ginger gave birth to their daughter, Talula Victoria, on October 17, 2009.[15] His wife now plays bass for the band, Garbage.[15]


  • Greg Suran is a modern touring member of The B-52s, after replacing original drummer-turned-guitarist Keith Strickland, who retired on the road—but remains a present band member—in 2013. This was revealed on the Season 22 Top 7 episode, when a producer told an astonished Julia Gagnon, who had chosen to sing The B-52s' "Roam" for the Dance Songs theme.[16]

Quick Links[]

  1. Kristopher Pooley's Website
  2. Kristopher Pooley on Instagram