James D-Train Williams
|Birth name||James Nelson Williams|
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.
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.
D Train was signed to Prelude Records and their debut hit single "You're the One for Me" was released in late 1981, which reached #1 on Billboard’s Dance charts and remained there for 3 weeks. The single also charted at #13 on Bilboard’s R&B charts and #30 in the UK’s Top 100.
D Train’s self-titled debut album was released in early 1982, but with the popularity of their first single, “You’re The One For Me” was adopted as the album’s new title. The album produced their next hit single “Keep On”, mixed by record producer François Kevorkian, which peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Dance charts and #15 on Billboard’s R&B charts. The album’s third single, the much covered Burt Bacharach single "Walk on By", also charted in both the US and the The album reached #16 on the Billboard R&B Album charts, #128 on the Pop Album charts and #72 on the UK Album charts.
D Train’s second album, Music, was released in 1983. They again enjoyed chart success in both the US and the UK with their first single “Music”, which peaked at #12 on the Billboard Dance charts, #20 on Billboard’s R&B charts and #23 on the UK’s Top 100 charts. D Train’s first Pop crossover was the album’s second single “Something’s On Your Mind”. It peaked at #5 on the R&B charts and #79 on Billboard Hot 100. The album’s third single, “Keep Giving Me Love” again proved successful on both sides of the Atlantic, charting at #24 on the Billboard Dance, #55 on the R&B charts #65 on the UK’s Top 100. The album peaked at #31 on the R&B Album charts.
The duo’s third album, “Something’s On Your Mind”, was released in 1985. This was also the final album under the Prelude Records label. Once again they hit Billboard’s R&B charts with the single “Just Another Night(Without Your Love)”, which reached #59. A remix of their debut single “You’re The One For Me”, a cover by Paul Hardcastle, appeared on the album, which went back across the pond at #15 on the UK’s Top 100.
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
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. 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”.
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.
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 included Lionel Richie, Roberta Flack, Jet Li, John Legend, Chaka Khan and Alicia Keys. The show ran until 2008.
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.
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.
"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 game “Grand 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.
D Train Albums
|1982||You're the One for Me||Prelude, Unidisc Records||LP, CD||128|
|1983||Music||Prelude, Unidisc Records||LP, CD|
|1984||Something's On Your Mind||Prelude, Unidisc Records||LP, CD|
|1986||Miracles of the Heart||Columbia Records||CD|
|1988||In Your Eyes||Columbia Records||CD|
|2009||701 Franklin Ave.||Jungshin Inc.||CD|
|Year||Song||U.S. Dance||U.S. R&B||U.S. Pop||UK|
|"Walk on By"||45||42||―||44|
|"D Train's Theme"||―||―||―|
|"You're the One for Me"||1||13||―||30|
|1983||"Keep Giving Me Love"||24||55||―||65|
|"Something's on Your Mind"||―||5||79||―|
|1985||"Just Another Night (Without Your Love)"||―||59||―||―|
|"You're the One for Me" (remix)||―||―||―||15|
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 133. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.