The multi-talented actress, dancer and producer Debbie Allen first broke the heartbreaking news Tuesday that the legendary singer/songwriter James Ingram had passed away.
Allen tweeted that she had lost her “dearest friend and creative partner” to what she called the “Celestial Choir.”
“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,” Allen wrote.
TMZ confirmed that sources who knew the singer had shared that James had been fighting brain cancer for quite some time.
Ingram is well known for his two No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts: “Baby, Come to Me” and “I Don’t Have the Heart.” One of his hit songs was featured on the soundtrack for the cute mouse movie An American Tail.
His voice can be picked out for its velvety smooth sound. The baritone shone as a soulful singer whose ballads and love songs really reached out and touched the heart. According to WZAK Cleveland, Ingram’s first foray into music was as a member of a local Akron, Ohio, band called Revolution Funk.
Ingram not only sang, but played several instruments, too. He left the University of Akron and relocated to Los Angeles, California, with the band in the hopes of furthering their career, but he quickly caught the attention of former Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier. He was convinced to play piano For Ray Charles and ended up working with producer Quincy Jones, too.
I have lost my dearest friend and creative partner James Ingram to the Celestial Choir. 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.❤️ pic.twitter.com/TDJfpbbJWa— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) January 29, 2019
Jones heard Ingram’s voice on “Just Once,” and reached out to the young singer, encouraging him to sing on his album for which he ended up receiving a Grammy with “The Dude” according to IMDb.
An Ohio native, Ingram won another prestigious Grammy Award. He worked on hit songs with the likes of Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Patti Austin, Ray Charles and Anita Baker. His two most popular duets were with Doobie Brothers frontman Michael McDonald “Yah Mo Be There” and with Linda Ronstadt in “Somewhere Out There.”
As a songwriter, Ingram is best known for penning Michael Jackson’s snazzy hit song “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” that appeared on Jackson’s Thriller album. He even appeared on the reality TV show Celebrity Duets in 2004.
One of Ingram’s Facebook posts gave fans a glimpse into the successful musician’s outlook on life, WZAK Cleveland disclosed.
“I have been blessed to perform in so many wonderful places around the world that have allowed me to encounter some of the greatest fans on the planet. Thank you for your continued support. Some of the greatest advice I ever received was from my father, which was ‘With faith in God and confidence in yourself there is nothing you can’t do.’ I believed him, and it worked!” he wrote.
Jackson is survived by his wife of almost 44 years, Debra Robinson.