|Birth name||Gerald Maxwell Rivera|
May 23, 1973 |
Brooklyn, New York, United States
|Genres||R&B, soul, neo soul, quiet storm, funk, jazz|
|Occupations||Singer–songwriter, record producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, guitar, moog|
|Years active||1991–2002, 2009-present|
Gerald Maxwell Rivera, known as Maxwell is a Grammy award-winning American singer-songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist. His music spans R&B, funk and soul, but he is best known as one of the exemplars of the subgenre neo-soul movement of the latter 1990s. After a successful debut album Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, he released Embrya, Now and a live album MTV Unplugged. After an eight-year hiatus, he returned with the platinum-selling BLACKsummers'night, the first of a trilogy. He has received 12 Grammy nominations with two wins.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Discography
- 3 Tours
- 4 Awards and nominations
- 5 References
- 6 External links
1973–1994: Early life and career beginnings
Maxwell was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a Haitian mother and a Puerto Rican father. His mother grew up in a devout Baptist household in Haiti. Maxwell's father died in a plane crash when Maxwell was three years old. The experience made him a deeply religious child, and he began singing in his Baptist church; however, he did not really get serious about music until age 17. He began writing his own songs using a cheap keyboard given to him by a friend. Initially influenced by early-1980s urban R&B, Maxwell progressed rapidly, and by 1991 he was performing on the New York City club scene. Maxwell was able to gain access to a 24-track recording studio and started to record songs for a demo tape, which he circulated among his friends. The demo engendered interest, and his official debut concert performance at Manhattan nightclub Nell's drew a crowd. During the next two years, Maxwell wrote and recorded over three hundred songs and played frequently at small venues throughout New York City. Maxwell's performances continued to draw interest and increase the buzz about him, and he was called "the next Prince" by a writer from Vibe magazine who attended one of his shows. After earning a considerable reputation, Maxwell signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1994. He adopted his middle name as a moniker out of respect for his family's privacy.
1994–1997: Urban Hang Suite and MTV Unplugged
Maxwell began working with songwriter Leon Ware and noted guitarist Wah Wah Watson to record his debut Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite in the early 1990s. Recording sessions for the album took place during 1994 and 1995 at Electric Lady Studios, RPM, Sorcerer, and Chung King Studios in New York City and CRC Studios in Chicago. When the album was finished Columbia had doubts about its potential and shelved it for a year. The album was finally issued on April 2, 1996.
Heavily inspired by the sound of classic soul music, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite did not catch on with audiences until the release of its second single, "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)", which became a hit. BET's television show In Your Ear would introduce him to more than 58 million homes and Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite would go on to sell over 2,000,000 copies, earning 2X platinum status, and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
On June 15, 1997, Maxwell taped an episode of the MTV concert series MTV Unplugged in New York City, performing his own songs as well as covers of songs by Kate Bush ("This Woman's Work") and Nine Inch Nails ("Closer"). Maxwell clashed with his label about the release of an album of his unplugged session, resulting in the release of an EP instead containing seven songs.
1998–1999: Embrya and "Fortunate"
Maxwell's second studio album, Embrya, was released in 1998, upon release Embrya was panned by contemporary music critics. The album sold more than one million copies and garnered Maxwell a new alternative fanbase, but confounded urban consumers. On May 26, 1999, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Embrya was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, losing to Erykah Badu's Baduizm (1997). In 1999, it won the Soul Train Music Award for Best Male Soul/R&B Album. In a retrospective review for Allmusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that Maxwell "overstuffs his songs with ideas that lead nowhere" and called Embrya "a bit of a sophomore stumble, albeit one with promising moments." Arion Berger, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), found the songs monotonous and called the album "unfocused and pretentious ... full of overwrought, underwritten songs with obscure, fancy titles revolving around a sort of sexual gnosticism."
The following year, he released "Fortunate", a single written by R. Kelly and featured on the soundtrack for the 1999 film Life. The single peaked at number one on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart. To date, "Fortunate" is Maxwell's most successful single and was Billboard's number-one R&B single of 1999.
2000–2002: Now and "This Woman's Work"
Now, Maxwell's third album, was released in 2001, the album sold over 296,000 units in the U.S. in the first week, according to SoundScan, to earn him his first-ever number one album. Now's second single "This Woman's Work", a live staple of Maxwell's, charted at number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number 16 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Despite some criticism towards Maxwell's songwriting, Now received generally positive reviews from music critics, based on an aggregate score of 78/100 from Metacritic.
The album featured the single "Lifetime" and a studio version of "This Woman's Work", the Kate Bush song Maxwell covered during his 1997 MTV Unplugged set. This version of the song was released as the album's second single in 2001 and peaked in the US Billboard charts at #58 (Billboard Hot 100) and #16 (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs). This version also appeared in the movie Love & Basketball.
2009-Present: Hiatus and comeback
After taking several years off, Maxwell released his latest album BLACKsummers'night on July 7, 2009. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Albums Top 200 chart, his second album to receive that ranking. Maxwell said his reason for leaving the music industry for such a long period was "to just take time off. The music industry has so much competition and there was no rush for me." He performed his hit single "Pretty Wings" at the 2009 BET Awards. An audio clip of the song "Pretty Wings" from BLACK was featured on Maxwell's Myspace page in spring 2008. The full single made its world premier on the 'Tom Joyner Morning Show on April 28, 2009, after the New School/Old School Remix by Steve "Silk" Hurley. "Pretty Wings" is also sold as a digital download on iTunes. In October 2009 – to coincide with Maxwell's autumn European tour, which included dates in Amsterdam, London and Manchester – "Bad Habits" became the album's first United Kingdom single.
Maxwell received six nominations for the 2010 Grammy Awards, winning "Best R&B Album" for BLACKsummers'night and "Best Male R&B Vocal Performance" for "Pretty Wings." "Pretty Wings" was nominated for the "Song of the Year" which was written by Maxwell under his publishing moniker Musze.
The follow-up to BLACKsummers'night and the second installment in a planned trilogy, blackSUMMERS'night, was set to be released late 2012 but it was never released and the current exact date is unknown.
Maxwell's hit song "Pretty Wings" was sung on the memorial tribute to Michael Jackson. He also covered "Lady In My Life" from Jackson's Thriller record at the Grammy Nomination Concert in 2009.
On April 17, 2012, Maxwell announced that he and his eleven-piece band would embark on a six-day tour, MaxwellTwoNight -M2N tour 2012 – two nights in three cities, scheduled for the cities of Los Angeles, California – Staples Center (July 20 and July 21); Atlanta, Georgia – Phillips Arena (July 27 and July 28); and Newark, New Jersey – the Prudential Center (August 3 and August 4). Maxwell was to perform his discography in its entirety. The first day of the tour Maxwell was to perform songs from his first album Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite and second album Embrya. The second day of the tour Maxwell was to perform from his third and fourth albums Now and BLACKsummer'snight, respectively. Maxwell was to be debut never-performed songs from his BLACKsummer'snight trilogy. lt was also announced that proceeds from the M2N tour merchandise would support the "Obama-Biden 2012" re-election campaign. However, the tour was canceled due to vocal hemorrhaging.
- Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite (1996)
- MTV Unplugged (1997)
- Embrya (1998)
- Now (2001)
- BLACKsummers'night (2009)
- Urban Hang Suite Tour (1997)
- Now Tour (2001–02)
- Maxwell 08 Tour (2008)
- BLACKsummers'night Tour (2009)
- Maxwell & Jill Scott: The Tour (2010)
- MaxwellTwoNight -M2N (2012)
- Black Summer's Night- Part II (2014)
Awards and nominations
- Alma Awards
- 2009, Best Musical Act (nominated)
- American Music Awards
- 2009, Favorite Male R&B/Soul Artist (nominated)
- BET Awards
- Billboard Music Awards
- 1999, R&B Single of the Year: "Fortunate" (winner)
- Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
- 1999, Favorite Song: "Fortunate" (nominated)
- Grammy Awards
- 2010, Song of the Year: "Pretty Wings" (nominated)
- 2010, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: "Love You" (nominated)
- 2010, Best Pop Instrumental Performance: "Phoenix Rise" (nominated)
- 2010, Best R&B Song: "Pretty Wings" (nominated)
- 2010, Best R&B Album: BLACKsummers'night (winner)
- 2010, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: "Pretty Wings" (winner)
- 2002, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: "Lifetime" (nominated)
- 2000, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: "Fortunate" (nominated)
- 1999, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: "Matrimony: Maybe You" (nominated)
- 1999, Best R&B Album: Embrya (nominated)
- 1998, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: "Whenever, Wherever Whatever" (nominated)
- 1997, Best R&B Album: Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite (nominated)
- Image Awards
- 2010, Outstanding Male Artist (winner)
- 2010, Outstanding Song: "Pretty Wings" (nominated)
- 2010, Outstanding Album: Blacksummersnight (nominated)
- 2010, Outstanding Music Video: "Pretty Wings" (nominated)
- 2002, Outstanding Male Artist (nominated)
- Soul Train Awards
- 2009, Best Male Artist R&B/Soul (winner)
- 2009, Song of the Year "Pretty Wings" (nominated)
- 2009, Album of the Year BlackSummer's Night (nominated)
- 2009, Record of the Year "Pretty Wings" (nominated)
- 2000, Best R&B/Soul Single Male: "Fortunate" (winner)
- 2000, Best R&B/Soul Album, Male: Embrya (nominated)
- 1996, Best R&B/Soul Single Male: "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" (winner)
- 1996, Best R&B/Soul Album, Male: Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite (winner)
- 1996, Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist (winner)
- Granditsky, Maria (April 1996). "A reluctant star on the rise". Retrieved July 17, 2009.
- "Maxwell cancels MaxwellTwoNight tour because of health issues". CBS/Associated Press. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- "Maxwell". MTV. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- San Miguel, Celia (September 2009). "A Woman's Worth". Giant. p. 80.
- Reid, Shaheem. (September 29, 2009) "Maxwell Dazzles the Ladies at Madison Square Garden – Singer's Hometown Gig Features Common, Chrisette Michele as Opening Acts". MTV. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
- On the Cover: Maxwell – Let Me Love You (Giant Magazine). Thelatestmaxwellnews.com. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- Huey, Steve. Maxwell: Biography. AllMusic. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
- Huey, Steve, "Maxwell". AllMusic. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
- Adams (1998), pp. 172–173.
- Brennan (2002), pp. 132–133.
- "Maxwell Unplugged". tv.com.
- [dead link] Maxwell Unplugged CD entertainment.circuitcity.com.
- Seyfu Hinds, Sewlyn (April 2001). "Inner Vision". Vibe (New York): 104–10. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
- "American album certifications – Maxwell – Embrya". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- 14th Annual Soul Train Award Winners allyourtv.com/awards/ March 6, 2000
- Berger et al. 2004, p. 521.
- Leroy, Dan. Review: Now. Yahoo! Music. Retrieved on 2009-09-25.
- "The Billboard Hot 100 - Maxwell - This Woman's Work - Chart Listing For The Week Of jun 29 2002". Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- "The Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - Maxwell - This Woman's Work - Chart Listing For The Week Of jul 06 2002". Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- Cinquemani, Sal. Review: Now. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-09-25.
- Coleman, Nick. Review: Now. The Independent. Retrieved on 2009-09-25.
- Now (2001): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-09-25.
- "Maxwell Borrows from NIN, Kate Bush". MTV News.
- "The Billboard Hot 100 - Maxwell - This Woman's Work - Chart Listing For The Week Of jun 29 2002". Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- "The Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - Maxwell - This Woman's Work - Chart Listing For The Week Of jul 06, 2002". Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- Muziek | Myspace Music. Imeem.com. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- "Video Maxwell's tribute to Al Green, BET Awards 2008 van That Marcus – Myspace Video". Vids.myspace.com. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- "Maxwell Shocks, Awes and Delights at BET Awards". Soulbounce.Com. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- "Maxwell interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' October 2009". Bluesandsoul.com. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- 2010 Grammy Award Nominations. Grammy.com/nominees. Retrieved December 20, 2009.
- Kennedy, John (January 3, 2011). "Maxwell to Release blackSUMMERS'night in 2011". Vibe. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- . Retrieved April 17, 2012
- "Maxwell Cancels Tour Due to Vocal Hemorrhaging". Rolling Stone. June 23, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- Snap happy! Singer Maxwell looks like the cat that got the cream as he photographs bikini-clad model girlfriend Deimante Guobyte during beach frolic
- musze.com, his official website