MAXWELL

 

Early life

Maxwell was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father was Pentecostal and raised in Vieques, Puerto Rico. His mother grew up in a devout Baptist household in Haiti.[3][4][5]

Musical career

Maxwell began working with songwriter Leon Ware and noted guitarist Wah Wah Watson to record his debut Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite in the early 1990s. When the album was finished Columbia had doubts about its potential and shelved it for two years. The album was finally issued in 1996.

Heavily inspired by the sound of classic soul music, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite did not catch on with audiences until the release of its second single, "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)," which became a hit. Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite sold over 2,000,000 copies, earning 2X platinum status, and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

On October 1996, Maxwell contributed the song "Segurança (Security)" to the AIDS-Benefit Album Red Hot + Rio produced by the Red Hot Organization.

max2On June 15, 1997, Maxwell taped an episode of the MTV concert series MTV Unplugged in New York City, performing his own songs as well as covers of songs by Kate Bush ("This Woman's Work") and Nine Inch Nails ("Closer").[6] Maxwell clashed with his label about the release of an album of his unplugged session, so only an EP [7] containing seven songs was released for sale.

Maxwell's second studio album, Embrya, was released in 1998. The following year, Maxwell released "Fortunate", a single written by R. Kelly and featured on the soundtrack for the 1999 film Life. The single peaked at number one on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart. To date, "Fortunate" is Maxwell's most successful single and was Billboard's number one R&B single of 1999.

Now, Maxwell's third album, was released in 2001, becoming his first No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 album chart and Billboard's R&B album chart. It featured the hit singles "Lifetime" and a studio version of "This Woman's Work", the Kate Bush song Maxwell covered during his 1997 MTV Unplugged set.[8]

Maxwell appeared on the 2008 BET Awards, where he performed the song "Simply Beautiful" in a tribute to Al Green.[9][10][11]

After taking several years off, Maxwell released his latest album BLACKsummers'night on July 7, 2009. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Albums Top 200 chart, his second album to receive that ranking. Maxwell said his reason for leaving the music industry for such a long period was "to just to take time off. The music industry has so much competition and there was no rush for me." He performed his hit single "Pretty Wings" at the 2009 BET Awards. An audio clip of the song "Pretty Wings" from BLACK was featured on Maxwell's Myspace page in spring 2008. The full single made its world premier on the Tom Joyner Morning Show on April 28, 2009, after the New School/Old School Remix by Steve "Silk" Hurley. "Pretty Wings" is also sold as a digital download on iTunes. In October 2009 — to coincide with Maxwell's autumn European tour, which included dates in London and Manchester — "Bad Habits" became the album's first UK single.[12]

Maxwell received six nominations for the 2010 Grammy Awards, including "Best R&B Album" for BLACKsummers'night and "Best Male R&B Vocal Performance" for "Pretty Wings."[13] "Pretty Wings" was nominated for the "Song of the Year" which was written by Maxwell under his publishing moniker Musze.

The follow-up to BLACKsummers'night and the second installment in a planned trilogy, blackSUMMERS'night, is set to be released in 2011


 

A Balancing Act . . .

 

To help balance both sides of his musical equation, Hamilton enlisted the familiar and the new. Back for return engagements are songwriter/producers Mark Batson (Hamilton's signature hits "Coming From Where I'm From" and "Charlene"), James Poyser and Kelvin Wooten. "It's always going to be them; they give me what I need," says Hamilton of his longtime collaborators. "They know what I've been doing but can see the growth I'm experiencing."

New to the Hamilton camp are the Avila Brothers (Usher, Mariah Carey) and Jack Splash (Alicia Keys, John Legend). "It makes a difference when collaborators are really into what you're doing versus just getting a check," says Hamilton.

That's readily apparent on "The Point of It All." Hamilton and crew get the ball rolling on lead single "Cool" featuring rapper David Banner. The pair's rough-and-ready vocals perfectly complement each other on this Kelvin Wooten-produced mid-tempo treatise on relationship dynamics. Hamilton, who co-wrote the song with Wooten, confidently croons to his significant other that's he's cool; he's got this. There's no need to worry because together they can conquer whatever comes in life.

 

More about Mr. Hamilton . . .

Hamilton also isn't afraid to admit when he's wrong as displayed on the confessional "Please Stay." Poignantly framed by a plaintive chorus of horns and Jack Splash's understated production, Hamilton makes you feel every bit of his torment as he tries to regain his lady's trust. As the song ends, his anguished, high-pitched ooohs say it all.

Hamilton�who co-wrote "Please Stay" plus the other album selections� brings it all home on the title track. Produced by the Avila Brothers, (who also co-wrote with Big Jim Wright), the moving ballad zeroes in on Hamilton's strong suit: subtly powerful, sparsely produced love songs that showcase his distinctive voice. As on his 2006 top 15 R&B hit, "Can't Let Go," Hamilton breaks love down to its pure essence as he sings, "No matter what the storm will bring/I'm fine with you/The point of it all is I love you."

While Hamilton definitely knows his way around a love song, he is just as comfortable shaking things up. He pumps up the beat on the feel-good "I Feel Like Fallin' in Love," produced by Mark Batson. Hamilton then stirs up fire and brimstone on the aptly titled "Soul's on Fire." His gospel background figures prominently on the ambitious "Prayin' For You/Superman," a two-part relationship anthem that shifts gears from spirit-in-the-dark revival to organ-fronted blues without losing anything in translation.


Hamilton's career-molding break arrived in 2002 when he sang the infectious hook on the Nappy Roots' "Po' Folks." That performance netted the singer his first Gammy nomination for best rap/sung collaboration--and a new label, Jermaine Dupri's So So Def imprint. A year later his platinum debut, "Coming From Where I'm From," was released. It was followed by the gold-certified "Ain't Nobody Worryin'." Not just a fan favorite, Hamilton is also the go-to singer for other artists whether the medium is R&B/soul, gospel, hip-hop, pop or country. In addition to new albums by Young Jeezy ("The Recession") and the Nappy Roots ("The Humdinger"), Hamilton guests on upcoming projects by Dr. Dre, T-Pain, Nat King Cole and Fonzworth Bentley.

Over the last three years, he has written and/or sung with a who's who in music including Al Green, Josh Turner, Keyshia Cole, John Rich (Big & Rich), Santana and Mint Condition. A 2007 highlight was Hamilton's cameo appearance in the Oscar-nominated film "American Gangster" starring Denzel Washington as well as his performance on the soundtrack's lead song, the Diane Warren-penned "Do You Feel Me.""It's pretty much the same rhythm, the same core, and that allows me to do a country song then bounce back to rap and then gospel," says Hamilton of his effortless versatility. "At the end of the day, it's what the heart and soul are saying; it's what I've got to say to people. I enjoy it all." In addition to giving back through music, Hamilton participates in various national and local outreach initiatives including his own TASTE Foundation (Take a Step to Elevate). And while his future plans include writing and executive producing feature films, Hamilton remains committed to music. He and his vocalist wife Tarsha McMillian have established independent label Mister's Music Recordings, whose roster includes Ashville, North Carolina rapper Ashes Clay.

"After all the ups and downs I've experienced," says Hamilton, "I've still got the same jones."

And that--bottom line--is "The Point of It All."

 

 

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