D Train (entertainer)

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For the New York City Subway service, see D (New York City Subway service). For other uses, see D Train (disambiguation).
D Train
D Train 2014 Headshot.jpg
Background information
Birth name James Nelson Williams
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • producer
  • actor
  • businessman
  • philanthropist
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
Years active 1980-present
Labels

James Nelson Williams (born January 21, 1962), known by the stage name D Train, is an American singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer and actor. He rose to fame in the early 1980s with the release of his first album “You're the One for Me” (working with songwriter/producer Hubert Eaves III initially as a duo), which spawned his first US Billboard Dance chart number-one hit, "You're the One for Me". His debut album (under the Prelude Records label) would also chart with the hits "Keep On" and the much covered Burt Bacharach hit "Walk on By". He would go on to work with Eaves producing hits on the follow-up albums Music and Something's On Your Mind before being signed to Columbia Records, producing more hit singles on the albums Miracles of the Heart and In Your Eyes. The two parted ways in 1988 and D Train went on to perform on his own label, releasing albums such as 701 Franklin Ave..

As a songwriter, D Train has written for numerous artists, among them Patti Austin, George Duke, Carl Anderson, John P. Kee and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. He has lent his voice on songs for artists such as Michael Jackson, Elton John, Carrie Underwood and Mary J. Blige as well as many television and film soundtracks. He was the host of “The D Train Show” for many years on Sirius XM Radio and has enjoyed great success as one of the leading jingle vocalists in the industry.

D Train has a wide vocal range and his music has been influenced by Nat King Cole, Paul Robeson, The Jackson Five, Tony Bennett, Mario Lanza, Billy Eckstine, Al Green, Bobby Womack, Mel Tormé and Carl Anderson. His artistic influences include Rock, R&B, Soul, Dance, House, Blues, Gospel, Contemporary Christian and Traditional Native American music.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

James Nelson Williams was born January 21, 1962 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to John and Laura Williams, the youngest of 13 children. At 6 months of age, he became fostered by Raymond and Ella Smith. He began singing at age 6 in the Washington Temple COGIC choir under the direction of Professors Henry and Irene Coston. He would later come under the direction of gospel singer Rev. Timothy Wright. At 10 years old, a Jackson 5 performance he saw on the Ed Sullivan Show inspired him to begin studying jazz guitar. He attended Erasmus High School and played Defensive Tackle on the high school football team. It was here that the earned the nickname D Train after the well-known MTA Brooklyn subway line because, according to the team’s captain, “When he hits you, it’s like being hit by a train”. The nickname stuck. D Train recorded his first professional Gospel album when he was only 15 years old with Timothy Wright.

While working on a project with his classmate, R&B singer Will Downing, D Train was introduced to musician/producer Hubert Eaves III. The duo broke out as an R&B/Dance group under the “D Train” name.

D Train's wife, an amateur pole dancer from southern New Hampshire, gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Kettle-Bell.

Career[edit]

Music[edit]

In 1986, Williams was signed by Columbia Records and released Miracles of the Heart. Despite what many have argued were lackluster promotional efforts by Columbia, the album still produced more hits, including the single “Misunderstanding”, which rose to #10 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop charts. This was followed-up by “Oh How I Love You(Girl)”, which went to #22 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts. The album was #51 on Billboard’s R&B Albums charts.

D Train’s next album, In Your Eyes was released in 1988. The single “Runner” made it to #11 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts and the album reached #46 on the R&B Album charts. Following the departure from Columbia and Eaves, D Train went on to pursue his own interests as a solo artist and songwriter. He has written songs for many other artists, among them Vanessa Bell Armstrong and John P. Kee’s “Something On the Inside”, Patti Austin’s “I’ll Be Waiting For You”, George Duke’s Children Of The Night” and "You Are The One In My Life” and Carl Anderson’s “Children Of A Lesser God”.

D Train is also a prolific sessions singer, having sung with industry giants including Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross (Dance With My Father), Elton John (Aida), Bette Midler, Cher, Mary J. Blige, Vanessa Williams (Everlasting Love), Cheryl Lynn, Patti Austin, Kirk Whalum, Judy Collins, Aaron Carter, Clay Aiken (Christmas), Natalie Cole (Snowfall On The Sahara), Marc Cohn (Listening Booth) and Lenny Kravitz (Strut).

In 2009, D Train released his sixth album “701 Franklin Ave.” under his own label. The 14 track album was written and composed entirely by him. Included was a rare live version of "Keep On".

D Train’s upcoming seventh album, “The Other Side Of The Tracks” is slated for release in the summer of 2015.

TV and Film[edit]

D Train lent his vocal talents to the 1997 soundtrack for Disney’s “Hercules”.

D Train sang the original “Pokérap”, the official closing credit theme song for the cartoon Pokémon in 1999.[1] The song also appeared on the show’s official soundtrack. That same year, D Train provided backing vocals on the song “Eyes of a Child”, written by Trey Parker and performed by Michael McDonald for the film “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut”.

In 2004, “You’re The One For Me” appeared on the soundtrack of the 2004 British film “The Football Factory”.

D Train appeared on camera and performed on the soundtrack of the 2005 Amy Sedaris/Stephen Colbert film “Strangers With Candy”.

D Train’s performances of "My Funny Valentine" and Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing" appeared in the 2007 Halle Berry/Bruce Willis film Perfect Stranger.

Other Ventures[edit]

As one of the leading jingle vocalists in the industry, D Train has been heard on some of the most recognizable commercial spots for the US Army, Verizon, Kmart, Pampers, Got Milk, Cotton, AT&T, Optimum Online, Kodak, Nescafe, Hanes, Budweiser and New York 1.[citation needed]

In 2001, SiriusXM satellite radio signed D Train to host “The D Train Show” on the Heart & Soul Channel 51 on the dial. The show was a blend of R&B music and guest interviews. Some notable guests icluded Lionel Richie, Roberta Flack, Jet Li, John Legend, Chaka Khan and Alicia Keys. The show ran until 2008.[2]

D Train has been with “United Stations Radio Networks” for the past 20 years. He currently serves as the Music Director for the New York-based radio and media company founded by Dick Clark and Nick Verbitsky.[3]

D Train’s eclectic love of music includes Native American chants. This brought him to co-write (with Layton Delgado Bluesky) and perform the anthem for the Montaukett Nation. The Nation selected it as their official anthem in 2010. In appreciation, the Montaukett Nation bestowed the honorary name of “Cloud” to D Train.[citation needed]

Legacy[edit]

D Train's first three albums were re-released on CD in the 1990s when Unidisc Music acquired Prelude Records and several other New York dance-music labels.

In 1997, The Notorious B.I.G.'s Sky's The Limit sampled part of D Train's song "Keep On".

Rapper Yo-Yo's "Iz It Still All Good" sampled D-Train's "Something's on Your Mind," which featured Gerald LeVert, in 1998.

"You're the One for Me" has been remixed by Larry Levan and Shep Pettibone and most recently was sampled by DJ Kue in his 2006 hit "I Got Love." "You're the One for Me" has also been sampled in the song "Girls" by the Prodigy from its album Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned.

In 2011, Prince performed a cover of “You’re The One For Me” in a live performance on George Lopez’s show Lopez Tonight.

In 2013, “You’re The One For Me” was featured in the release of the Rockstar Games video gameGrand Theft Auto V”. The game was re-released in 2014 for Playstation 4 and XBox One, further proving that D Train’s sound will “Keep On” steaming ahead and bringing new generations of fans.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album Name Label Format U.S.
1986 Miracles of the Heart Columbia Records CD
1988 In Your Eyes Columbia Records CD
2009 701 Franklin Ave. Jungshin Inc. CD

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]