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Dexter Wansel

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Dexter Wansel
Birth nameDexter Wansel
Born (1950-08-22) 22 August 1950 (age 73)
Philadelphia, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz fusion
Occupation(s)Record producer, songwriter, arranger
Years active1963–present
LabelsPhiladelphia International, Digital Jukebox

Dexter Gilman Wansel (born August 22, 1950)[1] is an American R&B/jazz fusion singer, arranger, musician, composer, conductor, synthesist and A&R director.

Early life


Dexter Wansel began as an errand boy backstage at the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia[2] from 1959 through 1963 for his step-uncle Georgie Woods. There he met many great artists who encouraged him to pursue music. During high school, he and his friend, Stanley Clarke, performed in bands together.



In 1970, after being honourably discharged from the United States Army, Wansel quietly joined the ranks of synthesists like Wendy Carlos and Dick Hyman, where he began programming the EMS VCS 3 'Putney' and the ARP 2600 for sessions at Sigma Sound Studios both credited and uncredited. From the early to mid 1970s, Wansel also played keyboards for groups such as Instant Funk, Yellow Sunshine, and MFSB. After signing with Philadelphia International Records, as in-house songwriter/producer/arranger, he established a songwriting relationship with the lyricist Cynthia Biggs.

He also collaborated with other writers such as Bunny Sigler, T. Life, Vinnie Barrett and Kenneth Gamble.[2] Wansel produced, wrote, arranged, played keyboards and synthesized hits for artists at Philadelphia International Records as well as numerous other labels. In 1977, he produced the Grammy-winning album Unmistakably Lou by Lou Rawls.

Wansel's music has been used as samples in the world of hip-hop. His 1975 "Theme from The Planets" drum beat intro, is hailed as being one of the first foundation beats of hip-hop. This beat continues to be sampled today and can also be heard on TV commercials and in movies. His sampled music has been used by Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross, J Cole, Eric B and Rakim, Wiz Khalifa, Lil KimIce-T and Ice Cube. In 1979 as conductor of the world-famous MFSB Orchestra, Wansel was the music director/conductor for the historic show at the White House commemorating the very first 'Black Music History Month' celebration in 1978. From 1978 through 1980, Dexter Wansel was the A+R Director for Philadelphia International Records where he oversaw many album releases by the label's artists including MFSB’S Mysteries Of The World, and The Stylistics, Hurry Up This Way Again, under the direction of Gamble and Huff. His LP Time Is Slipping Away, recorded in 1979, produced his second disco-themed hit (his first was "Disco Lights" in 1977) called "(I'll Never Forget) My Favorite Disco" co-written by Cynthia Biggs. It proved to be highly successful on the US club scene.

In 1981, he wrote and arranged the song Nights Over Egypt for the Jones Girls.[2]

In April 2021, Wansel signed a new record deal with Digital Jukebox Records.

Influence on Jamiroquai


Jay Kay of Jamiroquai said that his love for jazz and funk was kickstarted at 14/15 years old by Wansel's "Life on Mars", with Kay recalling on a BBC interview guest spot that he used to play the song over and over again on repeat with a friend.[3]

Personal life


Wansel is the father of Grammy-nominated music producer and songwriter Pop Wansel;[4][5][6] additionally, he is a U.S. Army Veteran of the Vietnam War era (Taiwan). He has authored a novel entitled Shortwave, published in 2011.[7]

Dexter Wansel is the brother of author Teri Woods.[8]



Studio albums

Year Album Chart positions Record label
US Jazz
1976 Life On Mars 44 Philadelphia International Records
1977 What the World Is Coming To 168 45 24
1978 Voyager 139 37
1979 Time Is Slipping Away 58
1986 Captured 10 Records
2004 Digital Groove World Hotplanet Entertainment
2021 The Story of the Flight Crew to Mars 178 40 Digital Jukebox Records
"—" denotes the album failed to chart


Year Single Chart positions Record label
US Dance
1976 "Life On Mars" 10 91 Philadelphia International Records
1977 "Disco Lights" 25
1978 "Solutions" 87
1979 "It's Been Cool" 91
"The Sweetest Pain" 40
2021 "As One" (featuring Terry Dexter) 71 Digital Jukebox Records
2022 "This Is My Story" (featuring Damon Williams) 64
"—" denotes the single failed to chart

Selected production discography



  1. ^ Who's Who Among African Americans (15th, illustrated ed.). Gale Research International, Limited. 2002. p. 1330. ISBN 9780787657291.
  2. ^ a b c Hogan, Ed. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  3. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Radio 2 Celebrates the 90s, Mixing Influences... with Jamiroquai". BBC. Archived from the original on October 8, 2023. Retrieved October 9, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Ballin, Sofiya (August 27, 2014). "Producer Andrew 'Pop' Wansel, inspired by Philly". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on September 27, 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  5. ^ Trammell, Matthew (June 17, 2014). "Beat Construction: Meet Andrew "Pop" Wansel, the Producer Behind Nicki Minaj's Soft Side". the fader.com. The Fader, Inc. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  6. ^ Hailey, Jonathan (August 8, 2014). "Pop Wansel Names Top Five Producers & Best R&B Song Ever [VIDEO]". theurbandaily.com. The Urban Daily. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  7. ^ "Shortwave" page". Sage Words Publishing. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013.
  8. ^ "Dexter Wansel Presents Sounds Of Philadelphia". DC Nitelife. Archived from the original on June 19, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Dexter Wansel US chart history". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 15, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2010.