Legendary soul crooner James Ingram, who during his career earned eight top 40 hits, two Grammy wins, 14 Grammy nominations (including Best New Artist), and multiple Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, has died at age 66. According to TMZ, he had been battling brain cancer, although no official cause of death has yet been confirmed.
Ingram’s smooth, silky baritone dominated the R&B, adult contemporary and pop charts throughout the 1980s with a series of high-profile movie themes and duets. His 1982 single with Patti Austin, “Baby, Come to Me,” popularized by General Hospital, went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another collaboration with Austin for the film Best Friends, “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?,” was nominated for Best Original Song at the 1983 Academy Awards.
A top 20 hit with Michael McDonald, “Yah Mo B There,” won the 1985 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals. “Somewhere Out There,” a duet with Linda Ronstadt from An American Tail, earned him nominations for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards and Oscars and won the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1988.
Ingram’s successful soundtrack career continued in the ’90s with “The Day I Fall in Love,” a duet with Dolly Parton for Beethoven’s 2nd, and “Look What Love Has Done,” a Patty Smyth duet for the film Junior, both of which received Best Original Song Oscar nominations. During his lifetime, Ingram additionally recorded soundtrack songs for such films as Sarafina!, Cats Don’t Dance and City Slickers, and also worked with Ray Charles, Anita Baker, Donna Summer, Natalie Cole, Kenny Rogers and Nancy Wilson. He scored his only solo No. 1 hit, “I Don’t Have the Heart,” in 1990.
Ingram launched his career in 1973, performing with the band Revelation Funk, playing keyboards for the Coasters on Dick Clark’s oldies revues, and serving as the musical director for Leon Haywood. Super-producer Quincy Jones recruited Ingram for his solo album The Dude after hearing a demo of Ingram singing “Just Once,” and Ingram became Jones’s longtime collaborator — co-writing Michael Jackson’s Thriller hit “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” and “The Secret Garden” (performed with Al B. Sure, El DeBarge and Barry White) with Jones, and participating in the Jones-helmed 1985 all-star benefit single “We Are the World.”
“There are no words to convey how much my heart aches with the news of the passing of my baby brother James Ingram … every beautiful note that James sang pierced your essence and comfort ably made itself at home,” Jones said in a statement. “But it was really no surprise, because James was a beautiful human being, with a heart the size of the moon. James Ingram was, and always will be, beyond compare. Rest in peace, baby brother. You will be in my heart forever.”
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