Despite a devastating illness diagnosed in what should have been the prime years of his stellar career, Will Downing has recovered and is still making great music. The crooner with the sultry baritone has never enjoyed the mainstream popularity of someone like Luther Vandross, who he’s been compared to, but he’s developed a very loyal following over the years.
Downing is proof positive that music for grown folks still exists and if you are one, you won’t want to miss his “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” musical trilogy. You can find “Yesterday” and “Today” in stores and on download sites. “Tomorrow” will be released later this year. Read on for more on our latest In-Studio Jam artist.
BORN: Wilfred Downing in Brooklyn, NY
BIG BREAK: His music teacher noticed his talent in class and volunteered him for the Brooklyn Boroughwide Chorus. Though initially reluctant, once he was a part of it, Downing gained and was appreciated for his talent. Gifted with a distinctive baritone, Downing became and in-demand session singer in his native New York City, before signing to 4th and Broadway Records and releasing his self-titled debut in 1988.
EDUCATION: Downing attended Virginia Union, an HBCU in Richmond, Va.
BACK STORY: In 2006, Downing was diagnosed with polymyositis, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the muscles, usually diagnosed in African-American women. Since then, he’s worked with and become a spokesman for the American Stroke Association.
RESUME: Downing has worked with artists including his wife, singer Audrey Wheeler, Kool and the Gang, Mica Paris and Regina Belle, among others.
FUN FACTS: Downing and Kedar Entertainment head Kedar Massenburg, who was once president of Motown, signed Erykah Badu and managed D’Angelo, went to Erasmus Hall High in Brooklyn, N.Y. together and graduated the same year.