James Ingram, the legendary R&B singer-songwriter with several chart-topping hits in the 80's and 90's, has died at age 66, following a battle with brain cancer.
One of his dearest friends, actress and choreographer Debbie Allen, confirmed the sad news on Twitter. "I have lost my dearest friend and creative partner James Ingram to the Celestial Choir," wrote Allen. "He will always be cherished, loved and remembered for his genius, his love of family and his humanity. I am blessed to have been so close. We will forever speak his name."
Between 1982 and 1996, Ingram was nominated for 14 Grammy Awards, and won twice. One Hundred Ways earned the Grammy for Best Male Vocal R&B Performance, while Yah Mo B Here, a collaboration with Michael McDonald earned the Grammy for Best R&B performance By A Duo Or Group. He also received two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song for his songs in the films Beethoven's 2nd (1994) and Junior (1995).
Ingram created two number one singles on the US Billboard Top 100 chart: 1982's Baby Come To Me, a collaboration with fellow R&B singer Patti Austin, and 1990's I Don't Have The Heart, which he released as a solo artist. In addition, he and Quincy Jones wrote one of Michael Jackson's biggest hits, P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), which was featured on the classic album Thriller.
Born in Akron, Ohio in 1952, Ingram moved to Los Angeles and performed as a session keyboard player and singer. In 1970, he became a member of the band Revelation Funk, who appeared in the 1975 blaxploitation cult classic Dolemite. When record producer Quincy Jones heard Ingram's demo, he received his big break, providing vocals for Just Once and One Hundred Ways on the 1981 studio album The Dude.
Jones mourned Ingram's loss on Twitter, writing, "There are no words to convey how much my ❤️ aches with the news of the passing of my baby brother, James Ingram. With that soulful, whisky sounding voice, James was simply magical. He was, & always will be, beyond compare. Rest In Peace my baby bro…You’ll be in my ❤️ forever."
On the Adult Contemporary Hit, The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite), Ingram sang alongside Barry White, El Debarge, and Al B. Sure! The accomplished musician also boasted collaborations with Ray Charles, Anita Baker, Linda Ronstadt, Natalie Cole, Barry White and Kenny Rogers.
In the 2000's, Ingram's career slowed down, but he still created music, performed in concert and made memorable TV appearances. During the summer of 2004, he was featured as a duet partner on the reality show Celebrity Duets. In 2008, his fifth and final album, Stand (in the Light) was released, following a 15 year hiatus. And in 2012, he played himself on the ABC sitcom Suburgatory, in an episode entitled The Motherload.
The music industry has suffered an incredible loss, but Ingram's "soulful, whisky sounding voice" will live on.