Celebrating and honouring the February 16th birthdate of the ever-soulfully brilliant singer and multi-talented songwriter, James Ingram, a reminder of his stellar global contribution to the world of music… Rest Peacefully, James.
2006 Update by David Nathan
With all that he’s accomplished in a golden career filled with achievement – try three Grammy Awards, seventeen Grammy nominations and two Oscar nominations – multi-talented singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and musician James Ingram has never been the kind of artist to rest on his laurels. His latest project, “Stand” is in fact his first complete inspirational album even though the Akron, Ohio-born native has been inspiring music lovers everywhere with songs like “Yah Mo Be There” (his famed 1983 collaboration with Michael McDonald) and “Look What Love Has Done” (the Oscar-nominated 1995 song he co-wrote with Carole Bayer Sager). “This is a natural album for me to make,” explains James, who’s made Los Angeles his home for three decades. “My father was not only the deacon of our church but he was the Sunday school teacher too! And my older brother, Henry is a gospel genius. He’s the Minister of Music for the State of Ohio and my biggest musical influence. This music has been a part of me since I was born.”
Touching people with his music is nothing new for James Ingram, one of six children, who is a self-taught musician, adept at piano, guitar, bass, drums and synthesizer. James spent his early years as a member of local Ohio band Revelation Funk, often opening for The Ohio Players who headed out to Los Angeles; then-keyboard player James Ingram stayed behind and soon found himself working with the great Ray Charles. “He taught me more about this business than anybody in the industry,” he says.
A demo for ATV Music Co. on the song “Just Once” led to a hit-filled working relationship with another musical legend, Quincy Jones which included his participation on the 1981 multi platinum album “The Dude,” resulting in the Top 10 hits, “Just Once” and One Hundred Ways”, which garnered James his first Grammy Award for Best R & B Male Vocal Performance. “Quincy gave me a chance to be a part of some of the greatest musical projects ever,” from “We Are The World” to the film world, he recalls. “I gained an enormous amount of experience in the whole musical process from a genius. He always pushed me to write, and I think I was fortunate to be able to share in some of the best music in Quincy’s life.”
Some of that music included co-writing “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” one of the signature tunes on Michael Jackson’s historic 1982 “Thriller” album (which sold over fifty million copies). That same year, James signed with Jones’ Qwest Records and teamed up with label mate Patti Austin to record “Baby Come To Me,” a No. 1 pop hit. The duo repeated that success in 1983 with “How Do You Keep The Music Playing,” featured in the movie “Best Friends” and nominated for both a Grammy Award and an Oscar.
Released in 1983, Ingram’s debut album, “It’s Your Night,” (which sold over 850,00 copies) included the afore-mentioned “Yah Mo Be There”, (Top 20 pop and Top 5 R&B) which went on to earn James his second Grammy Award for Best R & B Vocal Performance for a Group or Duo in 1984. That same year, he teamed with Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes to record the Top 20 hit “What About Me”.
Always in the company of some of the finest musical artists in the world, James was invited to record “The American Dream Goes On” with conductor John Williams and The Boston Pops Orchestra. He teamed up with Linda Ronstadt for “Somewhere Out There” in 1986, adding an astounding eleventh Grammy nomination to a recording career only in its fifth year.
After switching from Qwest to Warner Brothers Records in 1990 for the album “It’s Real,” James scored his first solo No. 1 hit with “I Don’t Have The Heart,” produced and co-written by the legendary Thom Bell. In 1990, James was also featured on “The Secret Garden,” the No. 1 R &B hit from Quincy Jones’ multi platinum album, “Back On The Block” and in 1993, he teamed up with Dolly Parton and David Foster to record “The Day I Fall In Love” for the film “Beethoven 2.” As co-writer with Carole Bayer Sager of the song, James earned an Academy Award nomination for “Best Song” in 1994; the two repeated the feat by writing “Look What Love Has Done,” the love theme from the film “Junior” in 1995, the same year he recorded “When You Love Someone,” a duet with Anita Baker featured in the film, Forget Paris”.
A constant favourrte among audiences around the world – particularly in South Asia where he always plays before SRO crowds in The Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia – James Ingram’s most recent activities have included working with choreographer /producer Debbie Allen on a number of projects including “Brothers Of The Night” which enjoyed a two-month run at The Kennedy Center in 2002 and opened in Los Angeles at The UCLA Freud Playhouse for three weeks.
Striking an important balance between his amazing career and his home life, James is very much a family man: married to wife Debbie for the past thirty-one years and the father of six children, James divides his time between Los Angeles and his California mountain retreat. “Music’s an important part of my life,” he notes, but it’s not all of my life…my family’s my life.” ‘I never confuse who I am, with what I do”. And what James Ingram does is undoubtedly .
(c) 2022, David Nathan