Thursday, July 12, 2012

James Ingram: Quincy Jones' Little Buddy

In 1981, Quincy Jones was so hot, he could basically just release an album featuring all of his buddies singing on it, even if nobody knew who the hell his buddies were, and expect people to buy it. That album was The Dude. And although it featured contributions from Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, the two hit singles from the album, "Just Once" and "One Hundred Ways," were sung by a performer who, at that time, was a complete unknown. But Cosby Rock, and the world, would never be the same.

James Ingram was a singer just skilled enough, and yet just generic enough, to slide into the background of the '80s and be all over the place, without anybody really noticing. For instance, he sang two extremely prominent leads along with Ray Charles at the end of "We Are The World." Younger viewers may watch the clip of "We Are The World" today and wonder, "Who the hell is that guy singing with Ray Charles?" Who the hell is that guy? That guy is James Fucking Ingram. And how, they may ask themselves, did James Ingram end up singing prominently with Ray Charles on "We Are The World"? Because. He was Quincy Jones' little buddy.

In fact, Ingram became the master of the '80s duet: the infamous "Yah Mo B There" (with Michael McDonald - I am not going to post it again, although Lord, I am tempted), "Somewhere Out There" (with Linda Ronstadt - anybody remember An American Tail?), and, while we're at it, who can forget "What About Me?" (with Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes)?

But Ingram's ultimate crowning achievement with the form would have to be his #1 1983 duet with the equally competent, equally quotidian Patti Austin, "Baby, Come To Me." Of course, having Quincy behind the boards always helps. Oh, and a little background vocal assistance from Michael McFuckin'donald.

1 comment:

Herr Zrbo said...

He's so easy to miss that I didn't even notice him when watching the video for We Are The World. I mean: I saw him there singing, but I didn't really see him there. He's like a ninja hiding in plain sight - a Quincy Jones-like ninja.