A native of Akron, Ohio, James Ingram was
exposed to music at an early age. One of six children, he is a
self-taught musician who is adept at piano, guitar, bass, drums and
synthesizer. "When I was growing up, I really wanted to be Jimmy
Smith," he says, referring to the legendary jazz organist.
Using his obvious musical skills,
James Ingram became a
member of a local band, Revelation Funk, often opening for The
Ohio Players. The band headed out to Los Angeles seeking fame and
fortune in the early '70s; when things didn't pan out for the
funksters, members packed their bags and returned home to Ohio.
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. "Even in my singing, you can hear Ray's
influence...stirred up with my own sauce on it."
James did a demo for ATV Music Co. and a person
delivered it to Quincy Jones, pitching the song "Just Once."
A call from Quincy Jones meant a change of plans and Ingram began a
working relationship with the musical icon that spanned several years.
Initially, he was featured on several songs for Jones' 1981 multi
platinum album "The Dude" which showcased James' talent on
"Just Once" and "One Hundred Ways," (Top 10 hits)
which garnered James Ingram his first Grammy Award for Best
R&B Male Vocal Performance in 1981, even though no one had ever
won a Grammy without having his own album released. "Quincy
gave me a chance to be a part of some of the greatest musical projects
ever," 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 (more than 50 million sold).
That same year, James signed with Jones' Qwest Records and teamed up
with label mate Patti Austin to record
"Baby Come To Me," a #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," (sold 850,000 copies) included "Yah Mo Be
There," (Top 20 pop and Top 5 R&B) a collaboration with
Michael McDonald, 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 pop
hit "What About Me."
Always in the company of some of the finest musical
artists in the world, James Ingram 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.
Switching from Qwest to Warner Bros. Records in
1990 gave birth to yet another hit track produced on James' album
"It's Real" by legendary producer and songwriter, Thom Bell.
He provided James with his first solo number one pop hit: "I
Don't Have The Heart" paving the way for more acclaim and
recognition for the powerhouse vocalist. In 1990, James was also
featured on "The Secret Garden," the No. 1 R&B hit and
gold single from Quincy Jones' multi platinum album, "Back On The
In 1993 James 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 B. Sager, James earned an Academy Award nomination for
"Best Song" in 1994. He and Carole B. Sager 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
Baker featured in the film, "Forget Paris."
In addition to all his corporate performances and
activity as a recording artist, James Ingram has performed on
an almost annual basis with the "Colors Of Christmas" tour
and has been constantly busy with trips to South East Asia: in The
Philippines, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, he's one of the most
popular U.S. artists, playing before packed houses, year in and year
out. At home, he's also been working with famed choreographer/producer
Debbie Allen on a number of projects including "Brothers Of The
Night" which played a one-month run at The Kennedy Center in
1998, and a project entitled "The Legend" for which he's
been writing material.
In 1999, James began cutting tunes for "Forever
More / Best of James Ingram," the debut release for his
own Intering Records imprint, distributed through Private Music. In
addition to working with Walter (Juni) Morrison, Ingram enlisted
up-and-coming producer Julian Jackson for the track "No Need To
Say Goodbye," and Swedish producer Lars Enochson for "I
Believe In Those Love Songs," recorded with Swedish musicians
during a week-long trip to Stockholm.
James Ingram brings down-on-the-ground realness and
authenticity to every song he writes, sings or produces. That honest
approach to music stems the balance James maintains between his career
and his home life. Away from the stage and the recording studio, he is
very much a family man: married to wife Debbie for more than
twenty-five years and the father of six children, he divides his time
between Los Angeles and a ten-acre mountain retreat. "Music's an
important part of my life," he notes, "but it's not all my
life...my family's my life."