Will Downing Biography

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1963, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. Downing was an in-demand session singer during the late 70s, appearing on recordings by artists including Rose Royce, Billy Ocean, Jennifer Holliday and Nona Hendryx. The soul singer’s career was really launched when he met producer/performer Arthur Baker in the mid-80s. This led to him joining Baker’s group Wally Jump Jnr. And The Criminal Element, whose other members included Brooklyn-bred Wally Jump, Craig Derry (ex-Moments; Sugarhill Gang), Donny Calvin and Dwight Hawkes (both ex-Rockers Revenge), Rick Sher (ex-Warp 9), Jeff Smith, and the toasting pair Michigan And Smiley. After a spell with Wally Jump Jnr. recording for Baker’s Criminal Records label, Downing secured a solo contract with Island Records and recorded his debut album in 1988 with Baker producing. The first release under Downing’s own name was ‘A Love Supreme’, which set lyrics to one of John Coltrane’s most famous compositions. The single reached number 1 in the UK, while his first album, produced by Baker, was a Top 20 hit. He had further hits with ‘In My Dreams’ and a remake of the Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway duet ‘Where Is The Love’, on which he partnered Mica Paris. Downing himself produced the second album, co-writing tracks with Brian Jackson, Gil Scott-Heron’s collaborator. Neither this nor A Dream Fulfilled, on which Barry J. Eastmond and Wayne Braithwaite co-produced, was able to approach the popularity of his debut. Moods (1995) and Invitation Only (1997) put Downing firmly in the smooth late-night music category, and although his exquisite vocals were suitably melancholic on both albums, they came uncomfortably close to sounding merely lethargic.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.