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Aaron Neville

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Aaron Neville
Neville in 1999
Neville in 1999
Background information
Birth nameAaron Joseph Neville
Born (1941-01-24) January 24, 1941 (age 83)
OriginNew Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Years active1960–present

Aaron Joseph Neville (born January 24, 1941)[1] is an American R&B and soul singer. He has had four platinum albums and four Top 10 hits in the United States, including three that reached number one on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. "Tell It Like It Is", from 1966, also reached the top position on the Soul chart for five weeks.

He has also recorded with his brothers Art, Charles, and Cyril as the Neville Brothers and is the father of singer/keyboards player Ivan Neville.


The first of his singles that was given airplay outside of New Orleans was "Over You" (Minit, 1960). Neville's first major hit single was "Tell It Like It Is", released on a small New Orleans label, Par-Lo, co-owned by local musician/arranger George Davis, a friend from school, and band-leader Lee Diamond. The song topped Billboard's R&B chart for five weeks in 1967 and also reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (behind "I'm a Believer" by the Monkees). It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[2]

Neville released his first solo album since the late 1960s in 1986 with the independent release Orchid in The Storm. In 1989, Neville teamed up with Linda Ronstadt on the album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind which included four duets by the pair. Amongst them were the No. 1 Grammy-winning hits "Don't Know Much" and "All My Life". "Don't Know Much" reached No. 2 on the Hot 100, and was certified Gold for selling a million copies, while the album was certified Triple Platinum for US sales of more than three million.[3]

Following the success of Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind, Ronstadt produced his 1991 album Warm Your Heart[4] including the hit single "Everybody Plays the Fool", a cover of the 1972 Main Ingredient song, which reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100[5] and another duet with Ronstadt "Close Your Eyes". Warm Your Heart was certified platinum in 1997 for more than a million sales in the U.S.[6]

During 1993 and 1994, Neville expanded his repertoire as a recording artist and ventured into making country music. In 1993, Neville released the platinum-selling The Grand Tour on A&M Records with lead single "Don't Take Away My Heaven" reaching No. 4 on the Adult Contemporary chart (where previous hits "Don't Know Much", "All My Life", and "Everybody Plays the Fool" all reached number one). The follow-up single "The Grand Tour", a cover of country music legend George Jones' 1974 hit, peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard country singles chart,[7] and was highly acclaimed by fans and critics, resulting in a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards in 1994.[8] He followed the album up with another platinum seller Aaron Neville's Soulful Christmas.

Neville's next country music project involved appearing on 1994's Rhythm, Country and Blues, an album of duets featuring R&B and Country artists performing renditions of classic country and R&B songs. Neville recorded a version of "I Fall to Pieces", a major crossover hit for Patsy Cline originally released in 1961, with Trisha Yearwood that resulted in Neville and Yearwood winning the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals at the 37th Annual Grammy Awards.[9] As a result, Neville became one of the only African American recording artists to win a Grammy within the Country genre. In April 1994, Neville appeared on Sesame Street to sing the song "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon" as a duet with Ernie.

Neville's 1995 release, The Tattooed Heart, featuring covers of classics by Bill Withers and Kris Kristofferson went gold, while 1997's pop-orientated ...To Make Me Who I Am included songwriting contributions from contemporary hitmakers Babyface and Diane Warren as well as two new duets with Ronstadt, including a cover of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face". This was followed by a 2000 gospel album Devotion which topped the US gospel album chart, and his 2003 debut for Verve Records entitled Nature Boy: The Standards Album which topped the US jazz album chart. The album saw Neville covering selections from the Great American Songbook, including another Ronstadt duet "The Very Thought of You".

In August 2005, his home in Eastern New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina; he evacuated to Memphis, Tennessee, before the hurricane hit. He initially went to Austin temporarily visiting his friend Clifford Antone, then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, after the storm.[10] and, failing to return to the city by early 2008, caused the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to temporarily change its tradition of having the Neville Brothers close the festival. However, the Neville Brothers, including Aaron, returned for the 2008 Jazzfest, which returned to its traditional seven-day format for the first time since Katrina.[10] He then decided to move back to the New Orleans area, namely the North Shore city of Covington.[10] Neville performed Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" during NBC's A Concert for Hurricane Relief on September 2, 2005.

Neville signed to SonyBMG's new Burgundy Records label in late 2005 and recorded an album of songs by Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke and others for Bring It On Home...The Soul Classics, released on September 19, 2006. The album, produced by Stewart Levine, features collaborations between Neville and Chaka Khan, Mavis Staples, Chris Botti, David Sanborn, Art Neville, and others. The album's first single was a remake of The Impressions' 1963 classic "It's All Right".

Neville in 2007

Neville's career has included work for television, movies and sporting events. Neville sang the US national anthem in the movie The Fan starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes. He also sang the anthem at the WWF's SummerSlam 1993 and at WCW's Spring Stampede 1994. Neville sang the theme music to the children's TV series Fisher-Price Little People and the songs for the sixth volume, "Discovering Seasons." He also sang a new version of "Cotton", for Cotton Incorporated which was introduced during the 1992 Summer Olympics. In 1988 he recorded "Mickey Mouse March" for Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, one of Various Artists. In 2006, Neville performed a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner", alongside Aretha Franklin and Dr. John on keyboards at Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan. In addition, Neville (along with brothers Art and Cyril) did background vocals for the songs "Great Heart", "Bring Back the Magic", "Homemade Music", "My Barracuda", and "Smart Woman (in a Real Short Skirt)" on Jimmy Buffett's Hot Water, released in 1988.

Neville is interviewed on screen and appears in performance footage with the Neville Brothers in the 2005 documentary film Make It Funky!, which presents a history of New Orleans music and its influence on rhythm and blues, rock and roll, funk and jazz.[11] The Nevilles perform "Fire on the Bayou" in the film.[12]

On October 27, 2006, Neville made a guest appearance on an episode of the soap opera The Young and the Restless.[13] He sang "Stand by Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine", from his album, Bring It On Home ... The Soul Classics. In 2008 he released Gold, which includes a double album of his hits.

In 2008 Neville's song Christmas Prayer was featured on ER (TV Series). In ER (season 15) episode The High Holiday.

In 2009, Neville, along with the Mt. Zion Mass Choir, released a version of the song "A Change Is Gonna Come" on the compilation album Oh Happy Day.[14]

In 2010, Neville and his brother Art performed with The Meters.[15]

Neville was the featured artist for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the University of Memphis Centennial Concert September 30, 2011, at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.[16]

In 2011, Neville, along with The Blind Boys of Alabama and Mavis Staples had toured New Zealand.[17]

In January 2013, paying tribute to the songs of his youth, Blue Note Records released Neville's My True Story, a collection of 12 doo-wop tunes, produced by Don Was and Keith Richards, with backing by musicians such as Benmont Tench and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.[18]

In March 2015, he was named the year's recipient of the Laetare Medal.

In October 2015, Keith Richards selected the song "My True Story" as one of his Desert Island Discs.[19]

In May 2021, the 80-year old Neville announced his retirement from touring, but said he may still record albums or perform occasionally for special events or festivals.[20]

In 2023, Rolling Stone ranked Neville at number 104 on its list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Neville is from New Orleans, Louisiana. He has mixed African-American, white, and Choctaw heritage.[22] His uncle, George "Big Chief Jolly" Landry, was lead singer of the Mardi Gras Indian group the Wild Tchoupitoulas.

Neville got his facial tattoo (of a sword) when he was 16 years old. Speaking to Billboard in 2019, he recalled that "My dad made me scrub it with Brillo Pads and Octagon Soap. The skin came off, but the tattoo stayed. But some years later, I had an album out called The Tattooed Heart [in 1995], and we were doing a special thing in a tattoo parlor, so I let them go over it and outline it - freshen it up."[23]

Neville married Joel (pronounced Jo-EL /ˈɛl/) Roux Neville (1941–2007) on January 10, 1959.[24] Together they had four children Ernestine, Ivan, Aaron "Fred" Jr., and Jason Neville.[25]

In 2008, during a People magazine photo shoot, Neville met photographer Sarah A. Friedman, who had been hired to take a portrait of the Neville Brothers. Neville and Friedman were married on November 13, 2010, in New York City at the restaurant Eleven Madison Park.[26]

Neville's oldest son, Ivan, is also a musician and released an album, If My Ancestors Could See Me Now, in 1988 which yielded a Top 40 hit with "Not Just Another Girl". Ivan has also performed with Spin Doctors, the Rolling Stones and Bonnie Raitt, and played keyboards for Keith Richards on his first solo tour. Ivan then assembled his own band (Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk) which tours and frequently appears in New Orleans.

Neville's third son, Jason, is a vocalist and rap artist who has performed with his father and with the Neville Brothers, notably at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.[27]

Neville is the uncle of journalist and Fox News personality Arthel Neville.[28]

Neville is Catholic, with a devotion to St. Jude, to whom he has credited his success and survival. He wears a St. Jude Medal as a left earring.[29]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications Label
US Christ
US Gospel
US Jazz
UK Jazz
1966 Tell It Like It Is Par-Lo Records
1967 Like It 'Tis Minit
1986 Orchid in the Storm Rhino
1991 Warm Your Heart 62 44 51 A&M
1993 The Grand Tour 37
  • RIAA: Platinum[33]
  • MC: Gold
1993 Aaron Neville's Soulful Christmas 36
  • RIAA: Platinum[33]
  • MC: Gold
1995 The Tattooed Heart 50 64
1997 To Make Me Who I Am 73 188
2000 Devotion 28 7 Chordant
2002 Humdinger EMI
2003 Believe 14 2 191 Telit
Nature Boy: The Standards Album 85 1 Verve
2005 Gospel Roots 25 Chordant
Christmas Prayer 74 14 3 EMI Gospel
2006 Mojo Soul Music Avenue
Bring It On Home... The Soul Classics 20 37 Burgundy
2010 I Know I've Been Changed 50 29 10 EMI Gospel
2013 My True Story 7 45 15 Blue Note
2016 Apache Tell It Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Greatest Hits (1990)
  • The Very Best of Aaron Neville (2000)
  • 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Aaron Neville (2002)
  • Brother to Brother (2003)[34]
  • Love Songs (2003)
  • Aaron Neville & Friends Sky Blue Music (2007)
  • Gold (2008)


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
US Cou.
1960 "Over You" 21 Non-album song
1966 "Tell It Like It Is" 2 1 96 2 Tell It Like It Is
1967 "She Took You for a Ride" 92
1972 "Baby I'm-a Want You" Non-album songs
1973 "Hercules"
1978 "The Greatest Love"
1991 "Everybody Plays the Fool" 8 1 19 52 Warm Your Heart
"Somewhere Somebody" 6 43 15
1992 "Close Your Eyes" (with Linda Ronstadt) 38 90
1993 "Don't Take Away My Heaven" 56 4 17 12 The Grand Tour
"The Grand Tour" 90 38
"Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight" 26 37
1994 "I Owe You One" 51 29
"I Fall to Pieces" (with Trisha Yearwood) 72 Rhythm, Country and Blues
"Even If My Heart Would Break" (with Kenny G) The Bodyguard (soundtrack)
"Betcha by Golly, Wow" 32 The Grand Tour
1995 "Can't Stop My Heart from Loving You (The Rain Song)" 99 23 The Tattooed Heart
"For the Good Times"
1996 "Use Me" 93
"Crazy Love" (with Robbie Robertson) 25 Phenomenon (soundtrack)
1997 "Say What's in My Heart" 26 To Make Me Who I Am
2006 "It's All Right"A 28 Bring It On Home...
"—" denotes releases that did not chart
  • A "It's All Right" peaked at #12 on Hot Contemporary Jazz Songs.

Guest singles[edit]

Year Title Artist Peak chart positions Certifications Album
1989 "Don't Know Much" Linda Ronstadt 2 1 2 4 1 2 Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind
1990 "All My Life" 11 1 10 1 96
"When Something Is Wrong with My Baby" 78 5 29 10
1996 "That's What My Love Is For" Anne Murray 15 Anne Murray
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
1989 "Don't Know Much"
1991 "Everybody Plays The Fool"
1993 "Don't Take Away My Heaven"[38] Zack Snyder
"The Grand Tour"[39] Jim Shea
"Please Come Home for Christmas"[40] Bronwen Hughes
1994 "I Fall to Pieces" (w/ Trisha Yearwood) Charley Randazzo
1995 "Can't Stop My Heart From Loving You (The Rain Song)"
"For the Good Times"[41] Jim Shea
"Use Me"
2006 "Stand By Me"

Awards and honors[edit]



  1. ^ Rose, Mike (January 24, 2023). "Today's famous birthdays list for January 24, 2023 includes celebrities Neil Diamond, Aaron Neville". Cleveland.com. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  2. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London, England: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 209. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  3. ^ Givens, Ron (April 17, 1990). "Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
  4. ^ "Warm Your Heart: Credits". AllMusic. n.d. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
  5. ^ "Aaron Neville: Billboard Hot 100". Billboard.com. n.d. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
  6. ^ "Gold & Platinum: Aaron Neville". RIAA.com. 2022. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
  7. ^ Daisy Riddle (March 2019). "R&B Singer Aaron Neville Records George Jones' Song "The Grand Tour"". Country Daily. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  8. ^ "Nominees for 36th annual Grammy Awards". United Press International. January 6, 1994.
  9. ^ "The 37th Annual Grammy Arads: Springsteen Big Grammy Winner". Los Angeles Times. March 2, 1995.
  10. ^ a b c Jon Pareles (May 2, 2008). "At Jazzfest in New Orleans, the Party Must Go On". The New York Times. p. E5.
  11. ^ "IAJE What's Going On". Jazz Education Journal. 37 (5). Manhattan, Kansas: International Association of Jazz Educators: 87. April 2005. ISSN 1540-2886. ProQuest 1370090.
  12. ^ Make It Funky! (DVD). Culver City, California: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 2005. ISBN 9781404991583. OCLC 61207781. 11952.
  13. ^ "Four-Time Grammy Award Winner Aaron Neville to Appear on Daytime's Number One Drama, "The Young and the Restless", Friday, Oct. 27 on the CBS Television Network". CBS Press Express. October 2, 2006. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  14. ^ Deborah Evans Price (March 27, 2009). "Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah go gospel for "Day"". Reuters.
  15. ^ "The Funky Meters Announce Auckland Show". Under the Radar (Press release). December 9, 2010.
  16. ^ Carol Morse (September 4, 2011). "U of M's 100th birthday". The Commercial Appeal – via PressReader.
  17. ^ "The Aaron Neville Interview". Stuff.co.nz. March 8, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  18. ^ "Aaron Neville – Official Merch – Powered by MerchDirect". Merchdirect.com. November 22, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  19. ^ "Hear Keith Richards' Desert Island Discs". Uncut.co.uk. October 26, 2015. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  20. ^ Spera, Keith (May 6, 2021). "Aaron Neville announces he's retired from touring, but may still perform occasionally". The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. New Orleans, Louisiana. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  21. ^ "The 200 Greatest Singers of All Time". Rolling Stone. January 1, 2023. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  22. ^ Faber, Jim (July 29, 2017). "'Buried history': unearthing the influence of Native Americans on rock'n'roll". The Guardian. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  23. ^ Prato, Greg (March 13, 2019). "Aaron Neville on Upcoming Crawfish Fest Appearance, His Musical Family and the Rise of Face Tattoos". Billboard.
  24. ^ Keith Spera. "Aaron Neville's Hardest Homecoming: He returns to bury his wife." The Times Picayune / NOLA.com. 28 January 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2022.
  25. ^ "Joel Roux-Neville". October 8, 2023.
  26. ^ "Aaron Neville marries photographer Sarah Friedman". The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. November 24, 2010. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  27. ^ Spera, Keith (April 30, 2015). "'Nevilles Forever' concert will say goodbye to Neville Brothers". The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  28. ^ Levitt, Shelley (May 8, 1995). "Something Extra". People. Vol. 43, no. 18.
  29. ^ "Aaron Neville and His Songs of Faith – February 1999 Issue of St. Anthony Messenger Magazine Online". Americancatholic.org. Archived from the original on April 12, 2001. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Aaron Neville - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on April 5, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  31. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 201.
  32. ^ "Official Jazz & Blues Albums Chart 27 January 2013 - 2 February 2013". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  33. ^ a b c d "American certifications – Aaron Neville". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  34. ^ "Bluebeat Music : Neville Aaron & Art – (2CDS) Brother To Brother [Fuel3232] – $15.00". bluebeatmusic.com.
  35. ^ "Discography Aaron Neville". australian-charts.com. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  36. ^ "AARON NEVILLE songs and albums". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  37. ^ "Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville - I Don't Know Much". bpi.co.uk. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  38. ^ "CMT : Videos : Aaron Neville : Don't Take Away My Heaven". Country Music Television. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  39. ^ "CMT : Videos : Aaron Neville : The Grand Tour". Country Music Television. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  40. ^ "CMT : Videos : Aaron Neville : Stacked – Holiday Cheer : Please Come Home For Christmas". Country Music Television. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  41. ^ "CMT : Videos : Aaron Neville : For The Good Times". Country Music Television. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  42. ^ "Artist - The Dirty Dozen Brass Band". Grammy.com. Recording Academy. 2023. Retrieved February 8, 2023.

External links[edit]