Dexter Wansel

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Dexter Wansel
Birth nameDexter Gilman Wansel
Born (1950-08-22) August 22, 1950 (age 68)
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresSoul, Funk, R&B, Disco
Occupation(s)Musician, Producer, Arranger, Songwriter
Years active1973–2004
LabelsPhiladelphia International Records
Associated actsGamble and Huff

Dexter Gilman Wansel (born August 22, 1950) is an American keyboardist, raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He contributed to the development of the Philly Sound and worked with producers Gamble and Huff at Philadelphia International Records.

Between 1959 and 1963, as a young boy, Wansel was given the job as a 'gofer' working for the Uptown Theater, providing sandwiches and clothes from the local cleaners for the acts who appeared at the venue who included Patti Labelle and a young Stevie Wonder.

In 1970, aged 20 and after leaving the US Army, he became involved with synthesizer musicians Dick Hyman and Wendy Carlos (formerly Walter Carlos). He started out his musical career by programming the ARP 2600V and 'Putney' keyboards for music sessions held at Sigma Sound Studios. Sigma was the home of Philadelphia Soul and enabled Wansel to progress his career.

Later in the mid-1970s he was a member of the groups Yellow Sunshine, and played keyboards with Instant Funk.[1] He has worked with Phyllis Hyman, The Jacksons, MFSB, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle, The Jones Girls, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Grover Washington Jr. and Lou Rawls, among many others. He also wrote The Jones Girls 1981 soul music song "Nights over Egypt" and Patti Labelle's 1983 #1 R&B hit, "If Only You Knew", with Cynthia Biggs and Kenny Gamble. His "Theme from the Planets" has been sampled hundreds of times and was featured on the breakbeat compilation album, Ultimate Breaks and Beats.

His most successful album was Life On Mars, released on the Philadelphia International record label in 1976. On the title track Wansel played keyboards and Instant Funk made up the rest of the rhythm section while singer, Terri Wells, was on vocals. Many of the other tracks were recorded by Dexter's rhythm section called The Planets and featured Darryl Brown on drums, Calvin Harris on guitar, Bobby Malach on saxophone, Al Harrison on trumpet, and Derrick Graves on bass.

Wansel has produced and recorded many soul ballads including the Time is Slipping Away title track, "New Beginning" on that same album, "The Sweetest Pain" (which was sampled by The Solid Doctor for his trip hop track "Lights On The Vibe", by DJ Cam for his track "Dieu Reconnaîtra Les Siens", and by Global Communication for their track "The Way") and "You Can Be What You Wanna Be" from 1976. Wansel also co-wrote and produced the Pieces of a Dream tracks, "Warm Weather" and "Fo Fi Fo". The track "Rings of saturn" was sampled by Dela for his track "Long Life" featuring Talib Kweli. Purists consider his "I'm In Love Once Again", released on Philadelphia International Records by Jean Carn in 1976, to be his finest work, combining sublime chord sequences with a lavish production.

His song "The Sweetest Pain" was also remade by British R&B group Loose Ends, on their album So Where Are You? and also featured on their next album Zagora.

Wansel released the album Captured on 26 March 2012 on Cherry Red records. The Captured album was originally released in 1986 on 10 Records, with limited distribution, and featured the vocal talents of The Jones Girls (Shirley, Brenda & Valorie), Pearl Williams Jones, Bunny Sigler & Cynthia Biggs.[2]

In 1978 as conductor of the MFSB Orchestra, (Tsop-The Soul Train Theme) Wansel was the musical director for a show at the White House commemorating the very first 'Black Music History Month' celebration in 1978. From 1978 through 1980, Wansel was the A+R Director for Philadelphia international records where he oversaw album releases by the label's artists including McFadden and Whitehead and their hit single "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" and Teddy Pendergrass's TP album.

Wansel and wife Judith Wansel have created their own show in 2017 called called Sounds Of Philadelphia,[3] in which Wansel performs some of the music he helped to create for other recording artists as well as his own music, with vocalists Marilyn Ashford-Brown and Damon Williams. He also honors Gamble and Huff with a performance of their Lou Rawls hit, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" from the album All Things In Time which he helped produce and arrange.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Wansel is the father of Grammy-nominated music producer and songwriter Pop Wansel,[5][6][7] and a U.S Army Veteran of the Vietnam War era (Taiwan). Most recently he has authored a novel entitled Shortwave, published in 2011.[8]

Dexter Wansel has a sister, well-known author Teri Woods.[4]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions[9] Record label
Jazz Albums
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
2004 Digital Groove World Hotplanet Entertainment
"—" denotes the album failed to chart


Year Single Chart positions Record label
Disco Singles[10]
1976 "Life On Mars" 91 Philadelphia International Records
1977 "Disco Lights" 91

Selected production discography[edit]


  1. ^ Hogan, Ed. "Biography: Dexter Wansel". AMG. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  2. ^ Dexter Wansel – Captured at Discogs
  3. ^ "Gigs". Dexter Wansel. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Dexter Wansel Presents Sounds Of Philadelphia". DC Nitelife. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  5. ^ Ballin, Sofiya. "Producer Andrew 'Pop' Wansel, inspired by Philly". Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  6. ^ Trammell, Matthew. "Beat Construction: Meet Andrew "Pop" Wansel, the Producer Behind Nicki Minaj's Soft Side". the The Fader, Inc. Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  7. ^ Hailey, Jonathan. "Pop Wansel Names Top Five Producers & Best R&B Song Ever [VIDEO]". The Urban Daily. Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  8. ^ "Shortwave" page, Sage Words Publishing.
  9. ^ "Dexter Wansel US albums chart history". Retrieved 2010-08-31.
  10. ^ a b "Dexter Wansel US singles chart history". Retrieved 2011-10-13.

External links[edit]