Ann Nesby Biography
Going beyond her sterling work with the Grammy award-winning Sounds Of Blackness and her much-acclaimed 1996 solo debut I'M HERE FOR YOU, the multi-talented singer, songwriter and producer is in her prime with her latest project. With typical modesty, Ann declares, "I wanted to make an album that you could put on from the beginning to the end without skipping a song, a record that has a musical flow to it". Working with producers Herb Middleton, Gerald Isaac, Brian Alexander Morgan, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, John Forbes & Douglas Grigsby, Mousse T and Steve "Silk" Hurley, Ann has crafted a record filled with standouts and future classics.
"Put it On Paper," the title track and an unforgettable duet with the legendary Al Green, recorded at the famed Gamble & Huff-owned Philidelphia International Records studio is a case in point. "We caught up with the Reverend Green when he was on tour and we sent him a tape of the song," she recalls. "I was in Philidelphia and he flew to record it and it was amazing. I mean, historic! Gamble & Huff stopped by during the session and it was just magical."
It goes without saying that the album includes several enduring, truth-telling ballads such as "I Can't Get Over You" and "I'm Your Friend" (a duet with producer/keyboardist and artist in his own right Big Jim Wright with The Sounds Of Blackness on background vocals). Then there's "Advice" one of nine songs Ann CO-wrote for the album-a brilliant true-to-life opus which features Ann's talented daughter Jamecia Bennett. "My last record dealt with life, love, and relationships, "she says," "and we got such a good response that I wanted to continue with those themes."
While Ann's pre-eminence as a balladeer of the first order is evident throughout "PUT IT ON PAPER," she shows her appreciation to the loyal following she's created over the years in the dance music community (through her own "Hold On," "Can I Get A Witness," and Sounds of Blackness classics "Optimistic" and "The Pressure") with some truly passion-filled rhythmic grooves. A brilliant cover of "Lovin Is Really My Game," originally recorded by Brainstorm in 1977 and later reprised by both the late Sylvester and Betty Wright is an obvious dance floor smash; while "Let Your Will Be Done" is a joyous gospel workout.
"I figured we could do something for the dance and gospel audiences with that tune and working with (Chicago house music legend) Steve "Silk" Hurley was wonderful," she says. In the same upbeat vein, there's "Tonights The Night" with a special remix bonus version featuring a rap by Ann's son Michael and "Love is What We Need," recorded in Germany with acclaimed producer Mousse T (known for his work with Randy Crawford and Tom Jones among others). "I was really excited about working with some of the younger producers," Ann notes. "We just wanted to make sure we covered all the musical bases from house and dance to R&B, soul and gospel."
An invitation to participate in the musical "Sing Hallelujah" followed and after a 1986 premiere in Cincinnati, the critically acclaimed show moved to The Village Gate in New York for a six-month run. In 1987, Ann began working with longtime friend (now husband and manager) Tim Lee on her first demo and was looking to start a solo career when a trip to Minneapolis to see her sister Shirley Marie Graham literally changed Ann's life. Graham had been singing with the much acclaimed Sounds Of Blackness for several years, performing with the group in their annual productions and during the visit, Ann was asked by Sounds' founder Gary Hines to participate in "Music For Martin," a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King. Moving to Minneapolis in 1988, Ann became a full member of The Sounds Of Blackness. That same year, super hitmakers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis came to see the group perform and in 1991, The Sounds became the first act on Jam & Lewis' Perspective Records.
In 1991, to great critical acclaim, "The evolution Of Gospel" was released, spawning Top 10 R&B hits with "Optimistic," "Testify" and "The Pressure," all
of which featured Ann on lead vocals. The set also garnered a 1991 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album by a Choir. She participated in the 1992 recording of the award-winning Handel's Messiah ("A Soulful Celebration") and in between constant touring both in the U.S. and Europe, Ann began nurturing her skills as a songwriter, working with fellow Sounds member Jimmy Wright. During her remaining years with The Sounds, Ann contributed several songs to the group's recordings including "Soul Holiday" (for the 1992 release, "the Night Before Christmas") and "I'm Going All The Way", "He Took Away All My Pain", and "A Place In My Heart" for the 1994 best-selling album "Africa to America: The Journey Of The Drum", singing lead on all three tunes.
In 1994, Ann also began writing for other artists: Patti LaBelle cut her tune "The Right Kinda Lover" and took R&B Top 10 along with "Someone Like You" while Gladys Knight recorded "Home Alone" for 1994 "Just For You" Gold
album. In 1995, she began recording her all-important first solo album for Perspective Records. Released in the summer of 1996, the record ultimately spent an amazing sixty weeks on the R&B best-selling lists. "I'll Do Anything For You" was the album's first hit single and two tracks, the emotionally powerful "I'm Still Wearing Your Name" and "This Weekend" garnered sufficient airplay to be featured on Billboard's R&B Charts.
Now, Five years later comes PUT IT ON PAPER, further testimony that Ann Nesby has few peers as a modern-day 21st century purvey of classic soul, dance, gospel, and pop music. A multi-faceted artist who has severed as a vocal
coach and arranger with the platinum-selling group NEXT, Ann demonstrates that she is at the top of her game with her new album, a testament to her diverse musicality. Whether expressing the day-to-day realities of personal
relationships with "She Can't Love You" or singing praises with "Where Would I Be" and "to Be Blessed," Ann Nesby is quite simply magnificent. Indeed, the latter two songs sum up the kind of gratitude Ann feels as she reflects, "I'm just so grateful that five years have gone by and people still come up to me and say how much they like the first album. I am blessed to have had so much support from R&B, gospel and dance communities-now I'm excited about letting people hear the results of all of the hard work we've put into this new record." She can rest assure that once again, a s a truly soulful diva, she has delivered. Visit www.AnnNesby.com for her latest Dance Album Release
and forthcoming album 2002 "PUT IT ON PAPER".