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Norman Connors

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Norman Connors
Connors in 1997
Connors in 1997
Background information
Birth nameNorman Connors
Born (1947-03-01) March 1, 1947 (age 77)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Musician
  • composer
  • arranger
  • producer
Years active1967–present

Norman Connors (born March 1, 1947)[1][2] is an American jazz drummer, composer, arranger, and producer who has led a number of influential jazz and R&B groups. He also achieved several big R&B hits of the day, especially with love ballads. He is possibly best known for the 1976 hit, "You Are My Starship" on which lead vocals were sung by Michael Henderson.[3]


Connors lived in the same Philadelphia neighbourhood as comedian/actor Bill Cosby and had an interest in jazz from a very early age when he began to play drums.[3] Whilst at elementary school, Connors was exposed to jazz extensively and became heavily influenced by the drummer Lex Humphries and the younger brother of bassist and Jazz-Messenger player, Spanky DeBrest.[3] He first met his idol, Miles Davis, aged just 13 in 1960.[3]

He once sat in for Elvin Jones at a John Coltrane performance he attended while in middle school.[2] Connors studied music at Temple University and Juilliard. His first recording was on Archie Shepp's 1967 release, Magic of JuJu. He played with Pharoah Sanders for the next few years until signing in 1972 with jazz label, Cobblestone Records, a division of Buddah Records, and releasing his first record as a bandleader.[3]

Connors began to focus more on R&B material in the mid-1970s after signing with Buddah Records and then becoming the label's A&R manager. He scored several US hits with songs featuring guest vocalists such as Michael Henderson, Jean Carn, and Phyllis Hyman.[3] The most successful of these was "You Are My Starship" (#4 R&B, #27 Pop),[4] featuring Henderson in 1976, while "Valentine Love", his first chart success, made #10 R&B in 1975,[4] with vocals from Henderson and Jean Carne. Dee Dee Bridgewater also performed with him on the jazz album "Love from the Sun". He has also produced recordings for various artists, including collaborators like Jean Carn, Phyllis Hyman, Al Johnson, Norman Brown, and saxophonist Marion Meadows.[5]

Connors switched to the Arista label when Buddah was bought out in 1978 and achieved a crossover to the disco scene in 1980 when he had the hit 'Take it to the Limit', which was released on 12" single. The B side, "Black Cow" (an instrumental) was written by Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.

In 1988 he had a hit on Capitol Records with "I Am Your Melody" (with B-side "Samba for Maria") from his LP Passion which he produced featuring singer Spencer Harrison (1962–1994). Connors also introduced another up and coming singer on the Passion LP by the name of Gabrielle Goodman who sang Minnie Riperton's "Loving You", "My One And Only Love", "Private Stock" and duets with Harrison on the LP.

His later work, Star Power, features smooth jazz and urban crossover music.[5]

On October 30, 2022, Connors life was featured on a TV One Episode of Unsung.[6][7]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications Record label


Cont Jazz

1972 Dance of Magic Cobblestone
1973 Dark of Light
1974 Love from the Sun Buddah
Slewfoot 51
1975 Saturday Night Special 150 35
1976 You Are My Starship 39 5
1977 Romantic Journey 94 24
1978 This Is Your Life 68 20 92 Arista
1979 Invitation 137 34
1980 Take It to the Limit 145 30
1981 Mr. C 197 51
1988 Passion 39 Capitol
1993 Remember Who You Are 70 19 MoJazz
1996 Easy Living 47
2000 Eternity 18 13 The Right Stuff
2009 Star Power 13 6 Shanachie
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record label

1978 The Best of Norman Connors & Friends 175 44 Buddah
1997 The Encore Collection BMG
1998 The Very Best of Norman Connors Camden
1999 Melancholy Fire - The Best of Norman Connors Razor & Tie
2001 The Best of Norman Connors Buddha
2017 Valentine Love - The Buddah/Arista Anthology SoulMusic
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Year Single Peak chart positions Album


1975 "Valentine Love" (featuring Michael Henderson & Jean Carn) 97 10 Saturday Night Special
1976 "We Both Need Each Other" (featuring Michael Henderson & Phyllis Hyman) 101 23 You Are My Starship
"You Are My Starship" (featuring Michael Henderson) 27 4 70
1977 "Betcha by Golly, Wow" (featuring Phyllis Hyman) 102 29
"Once I've Been There" (featuring Phillip Mitchell) 16 30 Romantic Journey
"For You Everything" (featuring Phillip Mitchell & Eleanore Mills)
1978 "This Is Your Life" (featuring Eleanore Mills) 31 This Is Your Life
"Wouldn't You Like to See" (featuring Eleanore Mills)
1979 "Your Love" (featuring Al Johnson) Invitation
"Handle Me Gently" (featuring Miss Adaritha)
1980 "Take It to the Limit" (featuring Miss Adaritha) 28 Take It to the Limit
"Melancholy Fire" (featuring Glenn Jones) 20
1981 "She's Gone" (featuring Beau Williams) 86 Mr. C
1988 "I Am Your Melody" (featuring Spencer Harrison) 26 Passion
"You're My One and Only Love" (featuring Gabrielle Goodman)
"Lovin' You" (featuring Gabrielle Goodman)
1993 "Remember Who You Are" (featuring Phyllis Hyman) 86 Remember Who You Are
2000 "Cobra" (featuring Norman Brown) Eternity
"Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" (featuring Lisa Fischer)
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

As sideman[edit]

With Carlos Garnett

With Sam Rivers

With Pharoah Sanders


  1. ^ "March Soul Music Birthdays". Soul Tracks. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Norman Connors Page". Soulwalking.co.uk. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Henderson, Alex. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Norman Connors Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". Music VF. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Shanachie Records (February 2009). "Norman Connors Biography". Soul Tracks. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  6. ^ Jack, Fisher (October 30, 2022). "TV One's UNSUNG and UNCENSORED Back TONIGHT with Norman Connors and Mario Van Peebles! | WATCH". EURweb. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  7. ^ "TV One's 'Unsung' Honors Musical Genius Norman Connors". TV One. October 28, 2022. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "US Charts > Norman Connors". Billboard. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Norman Connors". RPM. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  10. ^ "American certifications – Norman Connors". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 8, 2020.

External links[edit]