The world of R&B is mourning the loss of singer/songwriter James Ingram. Ingram died at age 66 after an undisclosed illness. Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Ingram began his career as a member of the R&B group Revelation Funk. He received his big break in 1980 after a demo of the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil composition “Just Once” was delivered to songwriter/arranger/producer Quincy Jones. Jones liked the song and Ingram’s voice and invited Ingram to provide vocals on “Just Once” and “One Hundred Ways.” Both appeared on Jones’ landmark album “The Dude.” Ingram released his debut album ‘It’s Your Night” in 1983, which featured the single “Ya Mo Be There”, a duet with Michael McDonald. Over the course of a decade, Ingram became known for collaborations with other artists, including Patti Austin (“Baby Come To Me”, “How Do You Keep The Music Playing”), Linda Ronstadt (“Somewhere Out There”), “Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes (“What About Me”), Dolly Parton (“The Day I Fell In Love”) and El DeBarge, Barry White and Al B. Sure! (“Secret Garden”). In 1990, Ingram took the Tom Bell produced ballad “I Don’t Have The Heart” to #1, but never had another major hit. Following a six year hiatus, Ingram released the album “The Best Of James Ingram.” He devoted much of the 21st century to his family. He remained active as a writer, and he along with actress/dancer Debbie Allen created several plays, including “Brothers Of The Night.” Ingram continued to tour, but reportedly struggled with cognitive issues over the past few years, which prevented him from reaching as many fans as his illustrious career would have warranted. He performed his final concert a year ago. He released the albums “It’s Your Night” (1983), “Never Felt So Good” (1986), “It’s Real” (1989), “Always You” (1993) and “Stand” (2008). My introduction to James Ingram came via “Just Once.” I didn’t know much about him at the time, but I knew I loved what I heard. James Ingram was an incredible singer/songwriter/musician who created timeless music that will be embraced generations to come. I don’t have a favorite James Ingram song. There are too many hits to narrow down just one. He was the epitome of what an artist should be and he will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Ingram family at this difficult time.
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