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Ingram, James (16th February 1952-29th January 2019)

Singer-songwriter-producer who was just as famous for his collaborations with other artists as for his own distinguished solo career.

In 1973, he moved from his hometown of Akron, Ohio, to Los Angeles, California, with a band called Revelation Funk, which frequently opened for The Ohio Players.  Although the band split up and most of the members moved back to Akron, James stayed behind and soon found himself playing piano and performing backing vocals for Ray Charles, who showed him the ropes.

He also found himself in demand as a session vocalist for the likes of Motown legend Lamont Dozier.  On a whim, he cut a demo of a Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song called “Just Once” for Quincy Jones.  To his surprise and delight, Jones contacted him and asked him to record it and “One Hundred Ways” for an album he was working on called The Dude.  Both parties benefited.  ” Just Once” went to #17 and “One Hundred Ways” went to #14 on the Billboard pop chart.  The album went multi-platinum, and Ingram won a Grammy in his first outing as a lead singer for Best R&B Vocal Performance.  The two of them co-penned “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” which had the good fortune to be included on what was to become the biggest-selling album ever, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  (Ingram also played keyboards on the track.)

He now had the clout to release his first solo album, It’s Your Night.  The album went gold, thanks in part to a couple of duets, “Yah Mo Be There” with Michael McDonald and “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?” with Patti Austin.  ” Yah Mo Be There” went to #19 and won Ingram his second Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo.  “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?” went to #45 and was featured in the movie Best Friends.

In 1985, he appeared with a virtual Who’s Who of pop icons on the Jones-produced “We Are The World”.  A year later, he recorded the Grammy-winning theme song to An American Tail entitled “Somewhere Out There”, with Linda Ronstadt.  The song, penned by the lucky tandem of Mann and Weil, along with James Horner, reached #2 on the Billboard pop chart and garnered an Oscar nomination.

Solo success finally arrived in 1990 in the form of his first #1 hit, “I Don’t Have The Heart”.  It was to be his last hit in the States, although he charted in the U.K. with two more collaborations, “Secret Garden”, with Jones, El DeBarge, Al B. Sure and Barry White, and 1994’s “The Day I Fall In Love”, with Dolly Parton, which was featured in the film Beethoven’s 2nd.  The latter was co-written by Ingram and Carole Bayer Sager, who also teamed up on “Look What Love Has Done” from the 1995 Arnold Schwarnezegger film, Junior.  A greatest-hits package, Forever More:  The Best of James Ingram, was released in 1999.

He was married to his childhood sweetheart Debbie for and had six children between them, although he did manage to squeeze in an appearance on the reality TV show Celebrity Duets in 2006.  He was also a special guest in Cliff Richard’s Soulicious Tour in 2011

He died from brain cancer at his home in Los Angeles, California, in January 2019 when he was 66 years old.

James Ingram and Linda Ronstadt recordings
Somewhere Out There (James Horner/Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil)