The curtain has fallen on renowned Rhythm & Blues (R&B) musician James Ingram at the age of 66 after a long battle with brain cancer.
His death was announced by actress Debbie Allan who took to twitter to break the sad news.
“I have lost my dearest friend and creative partner James Ingram to the Celestial Choir. He will always be cherished, loved and remembered for his genius, his love of family and his humanity. I am blessed to have been so close,” she wrote.
The musician who left a lasting impression on his Kenyan fans when he performed at the Safaricom indoor Gymnasium seven years ago, is best remembered for his hit song ‘I Don’t Have A Heart’.
Performing to an enthusiastic crowd, Ingram serenaded his audience with pacey music that was created around social narratives; specifically romance and love.
The audience included President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was then a deputy prime minister, and his wife, Margaret. Both couldn’t help but get on their feet and dance alongside the maestro.
Now immortalised by his Grammy award-winning songs, his love will remain ingrained in the hearts of his adoring audiences across the world.
In ‘I Don’t Have A Heart’, Ingram’s lyrical genius is showcased when he sings:“I don’t have the heart to hurt you, It’s the last thing I want to do, But I don’t have the heart to love you, Not the way you want me to.”
Hi fans registered shock upon hearing the sad news as they took to social media to play glowing tributes.
“No Need to Say Goodbye, you will Always be in our hearts not Just Once but in more than One Hundred Ways. You made Sundowner what it was... Great. RIP!,” wrote Edwin Buhere.
And to reflect on Ingram’s own lyrics Cessa Nyafrica said, “Sure you’ve left a legacy “I don’t have the heart” but to accept.”
The singer, who was picked from a side gig by producer Quincy Jones to appear in his 1981 album ‘The Dude’, won two Grammys and a host of other accolades in his heydays.
“There are no words to convey how much my heart aches with the news of the passing of my baby brother James Ingram. With that soulful, whisky-sounding voice, James Ingram was simply magical,” Jones mourned a man he mentored to become one of the greatest Rhythm & Blues artistes.
His other song ‘One Hundred Ways’ won best male R&B performance in 1981 and his duet with Michael McDonald on ‘Yah Mo B There’ won best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals in 1984.
He also bagged nominations for best original song Oscars in 1993 and 1994 as well as for co-writing ‘The Day I Fall in Love’ from Beethoven’s ‘2nd’ and ‘Look What Love Has Done’ from Junior.
Ingram had two number one Billboard Hot 100 singles, ‘Baby, Come to Me in 1982’ with Patti Austin, and ‘I Don’t Have A Heart’ in 1983.
Jones was part of the all-star charity hit song ‘We Are The World’ together with the King of Pop Michael Jackson and other artistes, including Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick.
The 1985 project dubbed USA for Africa netted more than Sh7.5 billion to help alleviate poverty in Africa, with additional Sh2.5 billion being raised by individuals and charities responding to the noble call of the song.
President Kenyatta joined the world in mourning Ingram.
Uhuru said James was a gifted musician who used his God-given talent to spread messages of peace, love and coexistence with a view of making the world a better place for all.
“James Ingram was a true gift from God to the world, and especially those of us who love and enjoy Rn’B music. James had an amazing voice, his compositions gave many hope,” said the President.