Will Downing

Known as “The Prince of Sophisticated Soul”, Wilfred ‘Will’ Downing was born November 29th, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. Will grew up in a working class family. His mother was a teacher while his father was a porter at the airport. As a teenager, this young man was very interested in singing and was a member of his school choir. He then enrolled in Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall high school which is well known for it’s arts program. Their alumni include Barbara Streisand, Stephanie Mills and Clive Davis among others. Will then attended college for one year at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. After college Will returned to New York to pursue a music career. At this point Mr. Downing was able to gain a lot of vocal and stage experience by performing backup for such artists as Jennifer Holiday, Nona Hendryx, Rose Royce, Kool & The Gang, Billy Ocean and Regina Belle. This style of music belongs to the Neo Soul, R&B, Soul and Jazz genres. In 1988 Will Downing released his first album. This self-titled project had two popular songs; his rendition of Denise Williams’ ‘Free’ and ‘Sending out an S.O.S.’ which featured his wife Audrey Wheeler. In 1989 Will released ‘Come together as one’ and ‘A dream fulfilled’ in 1991. The album ‘A dream fulfilled’ also had two standout singles; ‘I try’ and ‘I go crazy’. This was all during his time with Island Records. After leaving Island Records he started a relationship with Mercury Records. He released three albums and a collaboration album with saxophonist Gerald Albright entitled ‘Pleasures of the Night’. Mr. Downing continued to record great music. This time with the legendary Motown label. They worked on one album together. ‘All the man you Need’ was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best traditional R&B album. The next chapter in Mr. Downing’s life can be best described as tragic. He was hospitalized for over six months while suffering from the muscle disease polymyositis. Will also lost his ability to speak in 2007. However, being the champion that he is, Will Downing fully recovered and continue to satisfy listeners who “crave mature rhythm & blues and vocal jazz”. By 2010 Will released ‘Lust, Love and Lies: An Audio Novel’.  Mr. Downing also released a few albums on his own label Sophisticated Soul.  In 2016 Mr. Downing paid tribute to those that influenced him with the release of ‘Black Pearls’ on the Surachie label. Some of his influences include Phyllis Hyman, Jean Carn and Randy Crawford. Will Downing is a spokesperson for The American Stroke Association and is also recognized by The American Heart Association for his fundraising efforts. Mr. Downing continues to make beautiful music. His most recent work includes an E.P. entitled ‘Romantique pt.1’(2019) and ‘Romantique pt.2’(2020).

 

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