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A professional since the age of five, Patti Austin was a protégé of Dinah Washington and Sammy Davis, Jr. A 1969 single for United Artists titled "Family Tree" cracked the R&B Top 50. Austin cut her debut LP, End of a Rainbow, for Creed Taylor's CTI label in 1976, followed by Havana Candy in 1977 and Body Language in 1980. She sang lead vocals for Japanese koto player Yutaka Yokokura on "Love Light" in 1978, did a duet with Michael Jackson on "It's the Falling in Love" for Off the Wall, and sang "The Closer I Get to You" on Tom Browne's album in 1979. Austin dueted with George Benson on "Moody's Mood for Love" in 1980. She sang backgrounds for sessions by Houston Person, Noel Pointer, Ralph McDonald, Angela Bofill, and Roberta Flack.
Austin did vocals on Quincy Jones' The Dude LP in 1981, and was featured on the hit "Razzamatazz." She inked a solo deal on Jones' Qwest label, and her 1982 LP Every Home Should Have One included the number one pop hit (number nine R&B) "Baby, Come to Me," which got widespread exposure via the ABC soap opera General Hospital. The follow-up single, "How Do You Keep the Music Playing," was the theme for the film Best Friends. Both songs paired Austin with James Ingram. She continued recording for Jones' Qwest label through the '80s, but couldn't recapture her pop or R&B success, despite working with several top producers, including Jam & Lewis in 1985.
Austin switched to GRP in 1990 and recorded Love Is Gonna Getcha, with the singles "Through the Test of Time" and "Good in Love." She subsequently recorded Carry On and Live in 1991 and 1992. Street of Dreams followed in 1999 and On the Way to Love appeared in summer 2001. Her lovely tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, For Ella, appeared in spring 2002. Nearly five years later, Avant Gershwin was issued. After a decade on the jazz side of the fence, Austin returned more to the pop side with 2011s Sound Advice, produced by Greg Phillinganes.
Patti Austin (born August 10, 1950) is an American R&B, Pop and jazz singer. In 2008 she received the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal album for "Avant Gershwin" recorded mostly live with The WDR Big Band in Germany.Some sources still list Austin's birth year as 1948. She gave this date in the early years of her career, in order to avoid child work regulations. "I lied about my age and I kicked it up two years because in those days it was a problem to work at that age. [...] I think women are very foolish when they say they're younger than they are anyway." Quoted in: Roberts, Michael (2007). "Bless The Godchild". Jazziz Magazine (Boca Raton, FL) (4): 32–37.
Life and career
Austin was born in Harlem, New York and grew up in Bay Shore on Long Island. Her father was a Jazz musician.
She made her debut at the Apollo Theater at age four and had a contract with RCA Records when she was five. Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington have proclaimed themselves as her godparents.
By the late 1960s Austin was a session musician and commercial jingle singer. During the 1980s, signed to Jones's Qwest Records, she began her most prolific hit-making period. By this time she was both one of the leading background session vocalists, appearing on numerous famous albums by other artists, and also was known as Queen of The Jingles appearing on jingles for Burger King, Almay make-up, Avon, KFC, McDonalds, Meow Mix, Impulse, Stouffers, Maxwell House and the United States Army.
She charted twenty R&B songs between 1969 and 1991 and had success on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, where she hit number one in 1981 with "Do You Love Me?" / "The Genie". The album containing that hit, Every Home Should Have One, also produced her biggest mainstream hit. "Baby, Come to Me", a duet with James Ingram, initially peaked at number 73 on the Hot 100 in early 1982. After being featured as the love theme in a prominent storyline on the soap opera General Hospital, the song re-entered the pop chart in October and went to number one in February 1983. The single was certified Gold by the RIAA. She would later team up again with Ingram for "How Do You Keep The Music Playing". That year, Austin's single "It's Gonna Be Special" was featured on the soundtrack for the Olivia Newton-John/John Travolta film Two of a Kind. Though the film was not the major success envisioned for the re-teaming of the Grease stars, the soundtrack went Platinum and Austin's single, produced by Quincy Jones, became one of her highest-profile hits. "It's Gonna Be Special" peaked at #5 on the Dance charts, #15 on the R&B charts, and charted on the Hot 100 in 1984. The song also appeared on her self-titled album of that year, and its follow-up single, "Rhythm of the Street", remixed by John "Jellybean" Benitez, narrowly missed Billboard's Dance Top Ten, though it peaked higher on Hi-NRG charts. The two songs were featured on a double-A-side 12" single. For "Rhythm of the Street" Austin shot her first music video.
Next Austin released her third album in three years entitled Gettin' Away With Murder. In addition to the title track, she had two more hit singles, "Honey For The Bees" (#24 R&B and #6 Dance) and "The Heat of Heat". Produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, noted for their later work with Janet Jackson, the latter track returned Austin to the top 15 of the R&B charts for what would be the last time to date. It would also be her last Hot 100 charting to date, although she would score a top-5 dance hit with the single Reach that appeared originally on her 1994 CD That Secret Place (GRP Records). "Gettin' Away With Murder" used producers Russ Titelman, Tommy LiPuma, Monte Moir (of "The Time"), and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Billy Joel (Austin sang background on his "Just The Way You Are"), Dan Hartman, friends Luther Vandross and Jocelyn Brown, along with Chaka Khan were among the background vocalists on the project, with successful songwriters, Randy Goodrum, Michael Bolton, Jam & Lewis plus several other big name writers offering up their best compositions on what was likely a big budget affair. She next appeared with Jeff Bridges and Joan Allen in Francis Ford Coppola's critically acclaimed period piece Tucker: The Man and his Dream (1988). That year, Austin released The Real Me, a collection of standards which garnered her the first of several Top 10 showings on the Jazz Albums chart. "The Real Me" was chiefly produced by David Pack who had been a part of the Pop group Ambrosia. Austin served as a co-producer and as Executive Producer on the project. Austin sang "It's the Falling in Love" with Michael Jackson on his album Off The Wall. Other duet partners include George Benson ("Moody's Mood for Love" and "Keep Your Dreams Alive"), and Luther Vandross ("I'm Gonna Miss You In The Morning"). Earlier she'd recorded featured duets with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons on "Our Day Will Come" and "Swearin' To God" with little billing. Austin also sang lead and background vocals on many contemporary Jazz instrumentalists' records in the 1970s. In 1985 she sang lead vocals on a collaboration with her producer, Narada Michael Walden, and the single, "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme", went top 40 on the R&B charts. In 1991, she recorded the duet "You Who Brought Me Love" with music legend Johnny Mathis, which was received with critical acclaim. That same year she was invited to be a guest on a Johnny Mathis television special that was broadcast across North America.
In 2003, Austin collaborates with legendary Asian artist Frances Yip from Hong Kong in Papillon III at the Rotunda of San Francisco City Hall to benefit the Jade Ribbon Campaign of Stanford University. A companion CD/DVD was released in conjunction with the event featuring Austin and Yip's duets of many classic Chinese numbers sung in Mandarin directed and arranged by music director Carlton Liu.
Austin led a new group of Raelettes for the 2006 album Ray Charles + Count Basie Orchestra = Genius². That group also featured veteran session singer Valerie Pinkston and members of the group Perry.
During a 2007 interview promoting her latest recording, Austin reflected how as a teenager she reluctantly attended one of Judy Garland's last concerts and the experience helped focus her career, stating "She (Judy Garland) ripped my heart out. I wanted to interpret a lyric like that, to present who I was at the moment through the lyric."
In 2007 Patti Austin participated in the Avo Session Basel with a program dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald.
In 2008, fifty-three years after getting her first record contract, Patti Austin was awarded her first Grammy Award, winning Best Jazz Vocal Album for Avant Gershwin at the 50th annual Grammy Awards. The award came for her ninth nomination in that category.
Austin is co-producer and one of over 70 artists singing on "We Are the World: 25 for Haiti", a charity single in aid of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
In 2011 Austin released a mostly covers album project titled "Sound Advice" which contained re-works of Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody", Brenda Russell's "A Little Bit Of Love", a lesser known Jacksons tune, "Give It Up," her tribute to late friend/collaborator, Michael Jackson, a cover of Bill Withers, "Lean On Me" which she first sang at a milestone birthday for her Godfather Quincy Jones. Also on "Sound Advice" standout performances of Don McLean's "Vincent" (aka Starry Starry Night) and a deeply female take on "My Way." Austin wrote the anthemic "The Grace Of God" after watching an episode of the old "Oprah Winfrey Show" which featured a facially scarred woman ... Keeping relevant, Austin offered the bouncy slice of Pop/Rock/RandB "Round And Round" including the latest trendy vocal effects, though Austin remains one singer who clearly needs no such production techniques to cover a crystal clear, flexible, and knowing voice imitated by many, duplicated by none. Austin co-wrote and sings in the star-studded L.O.V.E. - Let One Voice Emerge, encouraging especially younger Americans to get out there and exercise their right to vote.
Austin appears in the Academy Award-winning documentary film 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released on 21 June 2013.The New Patti Austin Retrieved 2014-09-23. "Patti Austin - biography". encyclopedia.com. Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2014-08-26. Murph, John. "Patti Austin: 5 Tips for Aspiring Singers". aarp.org. AARP. Retrieved 2014-08-26. "Topic Galleries". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 2012-05-02.