A multiple Grammy Award-winner, the Akron Ohio born James Edward Ingram started his musical journey in 1973. Throughout his expansive career, the singer, songwriter, record producer, and instrumentalist has thrilled us with his velvet voice and pioneering skills on a multitude of timeless classics, including the 1981 chart-topping ballad “Just Once”. The same year, Ingram found more success with the hit ballad “One Hundred Ways”. Extracted from Quincy Jones’s album The Dude, “One Hundred Ways” earned him triple Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, and also won him the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. His wave of hits continued throughout the 1980s with his explosive duet with fellow R&B artist Patti Austin, on 1982’s “Baby, Come to Me”.
The same year, along with Quincy Jones, Ingram co-wrote Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T” for his blockbuster album Thriller. In 1985, he was again triple nominated for his debut album for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, and its single, “Yah Mo B There”,a duet with fellow R&B pioneer Michael McDonald, for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group, winning the latter. The same year, he participated in the chart topping Micheal Jackson and Lionel Richie penned, charity single “We Are the World. In 1986, Ingram’s velvet vocals caressed “Somewhere Out There”, a pop and Adult Contemporary hit with Linda Ronstadt for the animated film An American Tail. Both the song and accompanyning music video, became massive hits.
The song also received the 1987 Grammy Award for Song of the Year. It also received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. The 1990s were also a hit making decade for Ingram with his single “I Don’t Have the Heart”, becoming another number-one hit, from his 1990. It’s Real album, and “The Secret Garden” topping the R&B charts in 1989. The highest-profile collaboration of his career, “The Secret Garden” was from Quincy Jones‘ popular Back on the Block album and also featured vocals from fellow R&B crooners El Debarge, Al B. Sure!, and the incomparable Barry White.
On January 29, 2019, at his residence in Los Angeles, James Ingram departed this life from complications from brain cancer. He was 66.
Many friends and colleagues expressed their condolences via social media, with long time friend and collaborator Quincy Jones tweeting, “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 heart forever”.
With his timeless classics that will never become extinct, James Ingram will eternally be present with us.