For me, pound for pound he’s the greatest singer I ever heard. And the good news is that Quincy Jones would agree with me, so I know that my opinion is a solid one.
I only saw James Ingram perform twice. And I actually interviewed him once on the phone in the newsroom of The Evening Sun and it’s the very rare one that I don’t have a tape because it was in the office and not at home on my recorder.
I met Ingram once underneath the Capital Centre in the same room with James Brown, Neil Diamond and John Fogerty in July 1987 at a Welcome Home concert for Vietnam Veterans. He was supremely kind to me and sang with Linda Ronstadt that night as I watched from the pit. (I have no freaking idea why I didn’t have a camera with me that day but I didn’t!)
Maybe “Baby Come To Me” came into your life with Luke and Laura at “General Hospital” or maybe you liked one of his solo hits. In 1991, this CD compilation put together his career up to that point and as a body of work, you simply should own it.
Because Ingram didn’t write most of his songs – he just brought them to life with his rich voice – I can’t credit the incredible lyrics and words as his, even though he owns these songs. Many writers contributed to his vast body of work.
He won a Grammy for “Just Once” and deserved it. “One Hundred Ways” is an incredible song and vocal performance. And he always got premium songs to sing from Quincy Jones and everyone who ever wrote a great love song wanted him to sing it.
Ingram’s duet and trio work with Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes and John Tesh and anybody else who was lucky enough to perform with him, remains timeless. I shared the incredible tribute from brilliant Brian McKnight with the world upon his death. I also found a couple of amazing karaoke-style shows he did in a pavilion at a Ukelele Festival in Hawaii at the end of his life that were powerful, pure magic!
He was by every account a deeply spiritual man with a huge family. And Ingram didn’t tour a lot over the last quarter of a century of his life because he was always with his family.
Late last century, I saw him do a dozen songs with a Christmas touring group that included Sheena Easton, Patti Austin and Peabo Bryson during the only overnight trip of my life to Atlantic City. I sat in the third row and was spellbound.
James Ingram left us, kinda too quietly and much too soon, last year.
Every song on this album is lesson in how to sing. High art from the G.O.A.T.
I love all of the 70s soul voices like Luther Vandross, Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass – and Lou Rawls, who I sadly never saw perform, is one of my favorites.
But James Ingram was the best of the best.