Patti Austin may have the unique distinction of having the longest career of any active female singer. She’s certainly the one who got discovered and signed at the youngest age.

Move over, child stars Brandy, Monica, and Stevie Wonder. Austin had a record deal at five years old. And over 50 years later, she’s still singing.

Austin has succeeded in several areas of music, as well – from R&B, pop and jazz, as well as being the favored voice in both session recording and commercial jingles in the 1970s. Austin’s latest CD – her 18th – is a combination of remakes and original material including her own compositions.

The Grammy winner is the latest In-Studio Jam performer.

BORN: Austin was born in Harlem, New York.

BIG BREAK: Good family ties. Austin made her debut at the Apollo at age four and had a recording contract at age five. Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington became her godparents.

EDUCATION: The music business, or as Austin says “QU – Quincy University!” By the time she was a teenager, Austin was already a hitmaker, recording a bunch of charting R&B singles that ultimately became collector’s items.

RESUME: In the ’70s and ’80s, Austin was the preeminent New York-based session singer, appearing on albums by Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross and singing a host of commercial jingles.

BACK STORY: Music came to Austin naturally; she is the daughter of jazz trombonist Gordon Austin. By age nine, she was touring with Jones in Europe and had appeared on stage and on television. Jones would later help cement Austin in the public eye with her ’80s duets with James Ingram. Her debut CD, “Every Home Should Have One,” included the duet, “Baby Come To Me,” which became a huge hit. “How Do You Keep the Music Playing,” also with Ingram, was on the soundtrack for the movie, “Best Friends,” and was nominated for an Academy Award.

FUN FACT: Austin openly admits that she had gastric bypass surgery some years ago, losing over 100 pounds in the process.

LATEST WORK: “Sound Advice” on Shanachie Records.



ON TWITTER: @pattiaustin




“My Way” (Audio)

“Four Women,” with Lizz Wright, Dianna Reeves and Simone

“Do You Love Me,” with the Jazz Crusaders

“Baby Come To Me” (Live)

“How Do You Keep The Music Playing?” (Live)


“I wanted to accomplish a lot with ‘Sound Advice’ – including original material, covers and focusing on vocal performances for certain tunes. I’m very happy with the record: I went through a lot of ups and downs about how it was going to flow, about the material, if it would be cohesive and if it was going to have any point of view musically, lyrically, thematically. Now I’m having a lot of fun performing the material live. I am really enjoying this record.” – Official biography (2010)

Also On Black America Web:
The Ten Most Interesting Little Known Black History Facts
10 photos