Shirley Walker was born in California where her musical education was assisted by a piano scolarship, and followed by further study in both Piano and Composition. She performed at various gigs around the San Francisco area as a soloist or with jazz bands. She played piano with orchestras in the area, before gravitating towards film work. Her apprenticeship in film music included working as orchestrator and conductor, working with a substantial list of established film composers such as Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Brad Fiedel, Mark Snow and Carter Burwell. This led to occasional billing as co-composer before achieving full billing as composer starting with "Memoirs of an Invisible Man". This was directed but not written by John Carpenter, and therefore not a typical Carpenter film. However with this score Walker made history as the first orchestral score to be written solely by a woman for a major studio movie. Walker was to work again with Carpenter on "Escape from L.A." with a co-composer credit, and indeed she found work on a number of films through the 90s until beyond.
Throughout this period, Walker was also providing music for a large number of television productions including episodes of "Cagney and Lacey", "Falcon Crest" and "Knott's Landing". It is within television that some of her most memorable music is associated, particular on genre shows such as "Flash" and "The Others" and particularly the animated superhero series for Batman and Superman. Again there is an association with Danny Elfman on the Batman animated series, where she incorporated the theme from his original movie, and these animated series served as a platform for other composers such as Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis.
Sadly Shirley Walker died of a brain aneurism on November 29th 2006. The latest film in the Final Destination series called "The Final Destination" has been scored by Brian Tyler.
Although not many of her soundtracks are available on CD, these Shirley Walker soundtracks can be found at the following links:
Here is the CD cover for Batman The Animated Series, signed by Shirley Walker's co-composers on the series, Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click on the thumbnail below to see the image full size in a separate window.