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Jerry 'Wonda' Duplessis is a Grammy Award-winning Haitian-born musical composer and record producer. His first major success was as producer for The Fugees' 1996 album The Score. He also played the bass guitar with The Fugees, and band member Wyclef Jean is his cousin.
Jerry 'Wonda' Duplessis was born and raised in a suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At 14, he began playing the bass. Early influences at this time included Aston Barrett, and James Jamerson. At 16, he was sent to the US and was raised by his father and his aunt ho was also Wyclef's mother. The basement of their family home soon became their home studio.
From church to some time at the Institute of Audio Research, and gigs wherever he could play, their home studio "Booga Basement" was opened serving artists near New Jersey. Wyclef, Samuel Pras Michel, and Lauryn Hill would then unite to create a new Caribbean style group ultimately known as The Fugees. Wonda and Wyclef would align to provide production for the group which would be signed by Ruffhouse/Columbia. Label mates at the time would include Cypress Hill and Kris Kross.
Jerry Wonda/Wyclef Jean years
Jerry Wonda and Wyclef Jean's producing would take off with The Fugees. Their cover of the Roberta Flack classic, "Killing Me Softly" sung by lead vocalist Lauryn Hill reached No. 2 on the Pop charts and No. 1 on the R&B charts. Co-produced by Wonda, their album The Score would become one of the best-selling hip hop albums of all time gaining worldwide recognition.
Wonda would divide his time touring as a bassist and musical director with The Fugees and producing for upcoming artists such as Destiny's Child with a remix of "No No No." He attributes his musical success to tailoring each of his productions specifically tailored to a particular artist. “When we are on stage every song is different, every show is different, and when working with other artists, I make the beat for the specific artist,” Wonda explained. “I find out what fits each artist before delivering the song.” Several productions ranging from hip hop, pop, r&b, rock, soul, and reggae would follow.
Wonda and Wyclef would make history in 2000. Santana's Supernatural single "Maria Maria," which Wonda co-produced, held the No. 1 chart position for 10 weeks. In 2006, the duo produced Shakira's worldwide hit "Hips Don't Lie" from album Oral Fixation Vol. 2. It became the top selling song of the 21st century and reached No. 1 in more than 50 countries, leading Shakira to be the 1st female Colombian singer to top Billboard's Hot 100 chart.
In 1996, Wonda would co-produce The Fugees All-Star Ali tribute "Rumble In The Jungle" featuring A Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes for the Muhammad Ali documentary "When We Were Kings." The Warren Beatty film Bulworth includes Wonda's "Ghetto Superstar (That Is What You Are)" performed by Pras Michel, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Mýa and "How Come" by Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour & Canibus.
Alongside Wyclef and Andrea Guerra, Wonda wrote and produced the theme song "Million Voices" for the movie Hotel Rwanda, which was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2005. The same song was later nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006. Other film credits include The Manchurian Candidate, Dave Chappelle's "Block Party," and "50 First Dates."
In 2001, Wonda built Platinum Sound Recording Studios in Times Square, NYC.
Wonda and Wyclef co-founded non-profit Yéle Haiti providing assistance to Haiti in education, health, environment and community development. “We created Yele Haiti because we are from Haiti,” said Wonda. “We want to give people from the impoverished nation equal access to education and opportunity and equip them with the necessary tools to be self reliant.” Wonda has hosted several diplomats and activists to the country including former President Bill Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Petra Nemcova.
2009 - present
In 2009, Wonda began producing music on his own, founding a production company called Wonda Music and placing his first major record with teen sensation, Justin Bieber for "U Smile." He has since followed up several placements to include artists Mary J. Blige, Musiq Soulchild, Keri Hilson, Estelle, Busta Rhymes, Miguel and Lupe Fiasco. Wonda began signing artists, producers, and songwriters to his Wonda Music imprint, beginning with Sean McGee, Annekei and a young musician/producer named Famey Miscellaney. Producers Arden 'Keyz' Altino, Akene 'the Champ' Dunkley, Oliver 'Akos' Castelli and Harold O'Neal signed to the label shortly after.
Wonda also is part of the new touring band with Melissa Etheridge.
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- The 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards Roundup: Film/TV/Visual Media Field Grammy.com, January 24, 2006