January 31, 2019

From the “Huckabee” show’s resident pop culture guru, Pat Reeder ( 

The music world has lost one of its strongest and most distinctive voices: James Ingram died Thursday at 66, reportedly of brain cancer.  His voice was an integral part of the sophisticated, “smooth” pop/soul/jazz sound of the ‘80s, and his songs crossed over to top the R&B, pop and adult contemporary charts. 

In 1981, Ingram was a session keyboard player and singer when Quincy Jones heard one of his demos and asked him to sing a few tracks on his album, “The Dude,” which went on to score 12 Grammy nominations and three wins.  Three nominations were for Ingram’s tracks.  He won for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance for “One Hundred Ways” and scored a rare Best New Artist nomination before he’d even released a solo album. 

Some of his other hits that will immediately leap to mind when you hear the titles include “Just Once” from “The Dude; his hit duets with Patti Austin, “Baby, Come to Me” and “How Do You Keep The Music Playing;” and Grammy’s 1986 Song Of The Year, “Somewhere Out There,” the classic duet with Linda Ronstadt from the animated movie, “An American Tail.”  Just about every musician of the era wanted to work with Ingram: some of his other famous partners included Kenny Rogers, Kim Carnes, Michael McDonald, Ray Charles, Anita Baker, Donna Summer, Natalie Cole and the chorus of superstars on “We Are The World.”  

Ingram was also an accomplished songwriter who worked a great deal in movie soundtracks.  He and Quincy Jones co-wrote Michael Jackson’s mega-hit, “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing),” and two of his movie theme songs were Oscar-nominated.

I’m sure there will have to be a tribute to Ingram at this year’s Grammy Awards.  Pardon my editorializing, but you'll know it's on when someone in your family hears the TV from the next room and says, "Hey, they're actually playing some real music!"


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