Jaki Graham

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Jaki Graham
Jaki Graham performing at Let's Rock Liverpool, 31 July 2021. Photograph by Andrew D. Hurley
Jaki Graham performing at Let's Rock Liverpool, 31 July 2021. Photograph by Andrew D. Hurley
Background information
Birth nameJacqueline Graham
Born (1956-09-15) 15 September 1956 (age 65)
Birmingham, England[1]
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active1977–present
LabelsEMI / Avex International / JNT Music Ltd

Jacqueline Graham (born 15 September 1956)[1][2] is a British singer-songwriter. Following her hit version of "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" with David Grant in 1985, Graham scored a further five UK top 20 hits over a two-year period.[3] In 1994, her cover version of Chaka Khan's hit "Ain't Nobody" reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Dance Chart.[4]


EMI Years[edit]

Graham was born in Birmingham to Jamaican immigrants.[5] In 1983 after recording a session for a jazz funk band called 'Medium Heat Wave', Graham was spotted by a talent scout and signed to EMI Records.[6][7] Two solo singles were released in the following year, "Heaven Knows" (the title of her first album) and "Once More with the Feeling".[8]

The duet with David Grant, a cover version of the Detroit Spinners track "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love", was released in early 1985 reaching No. 5 in March of that year.[3] Graham's fourth solo single "Round and Around" saw her return to the UK top 10 a few months later.[3] A second duet with David Grant was released to end the year entitled "Mated". This peaked at No. 20.[3][9]

Graham's single "Set Me Free" was released in early 1986 and reached No. 7 in the UK,[3] also seeing the success repeated throughout Europe. "Breaking Away" was released in August as the follow up single, reaching No. 14 in the UK charts.[3] Graham's second album of the same name was also released. Later in 1986 her hit "Step Right Up" was remixed and released also making the UK top 20.[3]

During this time, American singer Michael McDonald was looking for a female singer to accompany him on the track "On My Own" (originally recorded with Patti Labelle) for his next UK tour. After hearing Graham's voice, McDonald was quoted as saying "Jaki is one of the best singers Britain has ever produced".[6][10] McDonald later wrote for Graham's albums and has featured her as a special guest on his UK tours.[6]

In 1989 she released her third and final album recorded on the EMI label called From Now On. The album included two singles: the title track and ballad "The Better Part of Me", both of which failed to reach the UK top 40.[3]

Later years[edit]

In 1991, Graham joined with Paul Hardcastle in the group Kiss the Sky.[2] Their self titled album was released that year on Motown Records.[7] In 1993, Graham was spotted by AVEX International, Japan, whilst at the Midem music conference and was immediately signed to the label. Work started in 1994 on her album Real Life.[7][6] Three singles were released internationally from the album, "You Can Count On Me (For Love)", "Absolute E-Sensual" and the song that would be Graham's biggest international single to date "Ain't Nobody".[7][6] "Ain't Nobody" entered the charts in Europe, Asia, Australia and reached No. 1 in the US Billboard Dance Chart for five weeks.[4]

Jaki Graham performing live in Bristol, UK in June 2014.

In October 2009, Graham performed at the Birmingham Town Hall with the BBC Big Band to perform specially arranged versions of Gershwin classics.[7] Both the concert and the transmission that followed later on BBC Radio 2,[11] received high critical acclaim and within a few weeks of the transmission Graham was invited back, this time to perform Duke Ellington classics in March 2010.[12][5]

In August 2010, almost 24 years to the date of its original release, Breaking Away – Special Edition was put out on CD across the UK and Ireland via Cherry Pop. In addition to the 12 songs that were included in the original album, an additional five bonus tracks, three of which were exclusive to the CD, were added.[7]

During 2010, Graham accompanied Michael McDonald and Al Green on their UK 'Legends' Arena Tour which included Birmingham LG, Manchester MEN and London's O2 Arena, as McDonald's special guest. Later in 2010, Demon Music released Absolute Essential – The Very Best of Jaki Graham. This would be Graham's first 'official' 'greatest hits' album and included 28 songs over two CDs.[7][6]

During 2011, Graham was invited to join Sir Cliff Richard on his successful 'Soulicious' Arena Tour in October. This was his only British special guest alongside James Ingram, Percy Sledge, Freda Payne, Lamont Dozier and Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr of The 5th Dimension. The event was filmed across two nights at London's O2 Arena and issued as a DVD.[7][6]

In early 2012, she entered a small recording studio in Leeds, and along with her band, would record her new album entitled For Sentimental Reasons. Graham returned to the recording studio in Leeds to add some additional backing vocals and the album was complete. The mixing of the album took place in early August and was released in October 2012. In the same year, Jaki collaborated with UK music producer Paul Rudd (DJ) to re-release a new version of 'Set Me Free 2012'.[13] It was recorded with new vocals at Britannia Row Studios in London.[7][6][5]

In 2016, Graham presented a radio programme, 'Soul on Sunday', on BBC Radio London.[14] In 2018, Graham released a new studio album, When a Woman Loves, on her own label, JNT Music Ltd.

Personal life[edit]

Graham has been married to Tony Ormsby since 1976.[15][7] They have a daughter Natalie (born 1981) and a son Ryan (born 1993).[5]


In early October 2012, Graham was honoured with a 'Birmingham's 'Walk of Star' on Broad Street.[7][5] A show took place in the evening that month where she performed some of her hits, as well as a selection of songs from 'For Sentimental Reasons'.

In 2015, Graham was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Wolverhampton in recognition of her services to the music industry.[16]



Studio albums[edit]

Year Title UK
1985 Heaven Knows 48
1986 Breaking Away 25
1989 From Now On
1994 Real Life
1995 Hold On
1996 Rhythm of Life
1997 Don't Keep Me Waiting
1998 My Life
2012 For Sentimental Reasons
2018 When a Woman Loves
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title UK
1995 Best Shots
2009 Greatest Hits Live!
2010 Absolute Essential – The Very Best of Jaki Graham
2021 35th Anniversary Collection - 4 CD set
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US Dance
"What's the Name of Your Game" 1984 Heaven Knows
"Heaven Knows (Feels So Good)" 59
"Once More with the Feeling"
"Could It Be I'm Falling in Love"
(duet with David Grant)
1985 5 8 17 48 60
"Round and Around" 9 23 14 85
(duet with David Grant)
20 23 17 Breaking Away
"Set Me Free" 1986 7 47 21 18 16 11 15
"Breaking Away" 16 14 22
"Step Right Up" 15 13 42 20
"Still in Love" 1987 83
"No More Tears" 1988 60
"From Now On" 1989 73 88 From Now On
"The Better Part of Me" 79
"Every Little Bit Hurts" 79
"Touch Me (When We're Dancing)" 1991 non-album singles
"Band of Gold" 1992
"Ain't Nobody" 1994 44 17 1 Real Life
"You Can Count on Me" 1995 62 129
"Absolute E-Sensual" 69 54 3
"When a Woman Loves" 2018 When a Woman Loves
"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Jaki Graham Page". Soulwalking.co.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  2. ^ a b Betts, Graham (2006). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2006 (illustrated ed.). Collins. p. 349. ISBN 9780007200771.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Official Charts > Jaki Graham". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Jaki Graham Chart History > Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Brady, Poppy (4 October 2012). "Soul singer's star treatment". Voice-online.co.uk. Archived from the original on 7 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biography: Jaki Graham". Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Jaki Graham Audio Interview". Soulinterviews.com. 2012.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 233. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  9. ^ Demalon, Tom. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  10. ^ Arena, James (2017). Europe's Stars of '80s Dance Pop: 32 International Music Legends Discuss Their Careers. McFarland. p. 80. ISBN 9781476630144.
  11. ^ "Big Band Special". BBC Radio 2. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  12. ^ "BBC Big Band: Duke Ellington's Sounds of Harlem". 12 March 2010. Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  13. ^ "Set Me Free 2012". itzcaribbean. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  14. ^ "Tony Blackburn's Soul on Sunday, Jaki Graham". BBC Radio London. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  15. ^ Hallam, Katy (1 October 2014). "Jaki Graham: My husband almost died FOUR times during heart op". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  16. ^ "University of Woverhampton / About Us / Governance / Pro-Chancellors / Ms Jaki Graham". University of Woverhampton. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Jaki Graham - Breaking Away". bpi.co.uk. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  18. ^ Australian (ARIA) peaks:
  19. ^ German chart peaks:
  20. ^ "Screen-shot of search results for 'Jaki Graham' (from irishcharts.ie)". Fireball Media. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  21. ^ "dutchcharts.nl > Jaki Graham in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  22. ^ "charts.nz > Jaki Graham in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  23. ^ "swedishcharts.com > Jaki Graham in Swedish Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  24. ^ "hitparade.ch > Suchen nach: Jaki Graham (songs)" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Jaki Graham Chart History > Hit R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 18 June 2019.

External links[edit]