James Ingram, the Grammy-winning R&B crooner who crossed over in a big way to the pop world, has lost his battle with brain cancer. He was 66.
Born February 16, 1952, in Akron, Ohio, Ingram launched a professional singing career 45 years ago, working in the band Revelation Funk and as a keyboardist for Ray Charles (1930-2004).
In 1981, Ingram sang "Just Once" (#17 pop hit) and "One Hundred Ways" (#14 pop hit) on the Quincy Jones album The Dude. His vocals were a sensation, leading to three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, and winning him his first Grammy for his "One Hundred Ways" performance. Both songs are still in heavy rotation on radio stations.
In 1982, his duet with Patti Austin (b. 1950), "Baby, Come to Me," was a #1 smash on the pop charts.
In spite of his Grammy success and pop hits, Ingram's debut album It's Your Night (1983) failed to crack the Top 40 of the Billboard Albums Chart, but did go gold. In the era when pop stars were releasing five singles from an album for the first time, Ingram did the same, though only "Yah Mo B There" — a duet with Michael McDonald (b. 1952) — became a pop-chart hit (#19) and won him his second Grammy.
His 1984 collaboration with Kenny Rogers (b. 1938) and Kim Carnes (b. 1945), "What About Me?," hit #15.
Ingram went on to release a total of five studio albums, the most recent being 2008's Stand, but his success was always more via singles, including his #2 duet with Linda Ronstadt (b. 1946) "Somewhere Out There" from the 1986 film An American Tail and his #1 hit "I Don't Have the Heart" (1990).
For his 1993 composition "The Day I Fall in Love" (a duet with Dolly Parton, b. 1946) from the film Beethoven's 2nd, Ingram was honored with a 1994 Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. The following year, he was nominated in the same category for his work on "Look What Love Has Done" from the film Junior (1994).
Since the '90s, Ingram has toured extensively and made select TV appearances, including a stint on Celebrity Duets (2004) and playing himself on a 2012 episode of Suburgatory.
Great friend Debbie Allen was the one who announced Ingram's death on Twitter Tuesday, noting he was her "dearest friend" and a "genius."