James Ingram, ’80s/’90s R&B Singer, Dead at 66

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James Ingram

Grammy-winning R&B singer James Ingram, whose string of ’80s and ’90s hits included duets with Michael McDonald, Linda Ronstadt and Patti Austin, died January 29, 2019.

No official cause or place of death were reported but Ingram was known to have been suffering from brain cancer. He was 66.

Ingram’s death was confirmed by his friend and creative partner Debbie Allen, in a tweet.

In all, Ingram placed a dozen singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including eight Top 40 placements and two #1 hits: “Baby, Come to Me,” with Austin (1982-83) and “I Don’t Have the Heart” (1990). His coupling with Ronstadt, “Somewhere Out There” (1986-87), reached #2 and was featured in the animated film An American Tail.

Related: Our rare interview with Linda Ronstadt

Born Feb. 16, 1952, in Akron, Ohio, James Edward Ingram began singing professinally in the early 1970s. Prior to launching his solo career, Ingram sang in a Los Angeles-based band, Revelation Funk, and played keyboards for Ray Charles. In 1981 he contributed vocals to two songs by Quincy Jones – “Just Once” and “One Hundred Ways” – and was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy.

“One Hundred Ways,” earned Ingram the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

Ingram released his debut album, It’s Your Night, in 1983, which peaked at #46. While his subsequent albums did not fare as well, Ingram found continued success with his duets. A followup with Austin, “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?,” was featured in the movie Best Friends and earned an Oscar nomination, and his collaboration with Doobie Brothers singer McDonald, “Yah Mo B There,” made the top 20. A song featuring Ingram with both Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes, “What About Me?,” reached #15 in 1984. Ingram also sang on the massively popular charity single “We Are the World.” A 1990 release with Quincy Jones, “The Secret Garden,” also included Barry White, El Debarge and Al B. Sure! Ingram’s final charting single was “Give Me Forever (I Do),” with pianist John Tesh.

He also contributed to a number of soundtrack recordings. Ingram was nominated for Best Original Song Oscars in 1993 and 1994, for co-writing “The Day I Fall in Love” from Beethoven’s 2nd and “Look What Love Has Done” from Junior.

Watch James Ingram and Linda Ronstadt’s video for “Somewhere Out There”

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Friar
    #1 Friar 30 January, 2019, 15:32

    A great singer who, though he had the hits, awards and obvious popularity, was probably underrated. His death, sadly, will remind older listeners of his excellent recordings.

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