|Born||February 10, 1958|
|Origin||San Paulo, Brazil|
|Genres||Soul, rhythm and blues, pop, quiet storm, pop rock, classical, latin|
|Occupation(s)||Writer, composer, producer|
|Labels||Walter Afanasieff Production Co.|
Walter Afanasieff (born February 10, 1958) is a Russian American multiple Grammy-award-winning record producer and songwriter. He is best known for his long association with Mariah Carey, for whom he was co-producer and co-writer for several years, beginning in 1990. He won the 1999 Grammy Award in the Record of the Year category for producing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, and the 2000 Grammy Award for Non-Classical Producer of the Year.
Afanasieff has written and produced music for many other recording artists, including Richard Marx, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Thalía, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, George Benson, Destiny's Child, Kenny G, Michael Bolton, Toni Braxton, Darren Hayes (Savage Garden), Andrea Bocelli, Johnny Mathis, Kenny Loggins, Barbra Streisand, Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Mika, Babyface, Josh Groban, Jordin Sparks, Tina Arena, Lara Fabian, and Leona Lewis.
Life and work
Afanasieff was born Vladimir Nikitich Afanasieff (Russian: Владимир Никитич Афанасьев) in São Paulo, SP, Brazil to Russian parents Nikita and Tatiana. His father is from Leningrad in the Soviet Union and his mother is from Harbin, China. His parents met in Brazil in the early 1950s. Beneath the senior portrait in his high school yearbook, Afanasieff wrote that his goal was to "write and play better than Keith Emerson" of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Starting out as a working jazz musician in 1980, Afanasieff initially played keyboards with the jazz/fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Later, he formed The Warriors with another former Ponty sideman, guitarist Joaquin Lievano, and with leading 1980s music producer/songwriter and drummer Narada Michael Walden, and these experiences gave him the background and confidence to take an active role as a producer.
Walden hired Afanasieff as a staff producer/arranger and began using him as a keyboardist on a large number of recording projects, including Whitney Houston's self-titled debut album released in 1985, which went on to become the artist’s best-selling studio album to date. It was also during this time that Afanasieff and Walden began writing pop songs together. Together with his mentor Narada, Afanasieff’s first major production was the title track of the James Bond movie Licence to Kill, sung by Gladys Knight and co-written by Afanasieff and Walden.
One of Afanasieff’s biggest hits as a producer was the smash hit "My Heart Will Go On", the theme tune to the 1997 film Titanic, sung by Celine Dion. The song became the world’s best-selling single of 1998. Afanasieff produced and arranged other successful motion picture soundtracks, including Disney's Beauty and the Beast (the Celine Dion/Peabo Bryson title-track duet), Aladdin (“A Whole New World”) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (“Someday”). Afanasieff was also the producer and arranger for “Go the Distance”, the Oscar-nominated Michael Bolton song from the animated film Hercules.
Afanasieff performs on most of his recordings (mainly keyboards, synthesizers and drum programming).
Afanasieff spent a significant part of his career creating music with Mariah Carey: 1988-1998. He had a role in some of Carey’s most successful songs, including “Hero”, which he co-produced, co-wrote, and on which he played all of the music tracks. “Hero” was released as the second single from Carey’s album Music Box, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on December 25, 1993. It remained at the top of the chart for four weeks. "Hero" has become one of Carey’s signature songs, and Carey closes many of her concerts with it. Carey and Afanasieff also wrote "One Sweet Day", a duet between Carey and Boyz II Men, which holds the record for the longest run at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (16 weeks total). The song was nominated for the 1996 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, and received the ASCAP Song of the Year Award for 1996.
In June 2012 Afanasieff's daughter Isabella claimed that Afanasieff and Carey were reuniting after 15 years to collaborate on the singer's upcoming fourteenth studio album, but the resulting album, Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse, did not include any production or songwriting credits for Afanasieff.
In 2015 he became one of the mentors of the Russian TV project "Main Stage" (Russian: "Главная сцена").
- 1999 Grammy Award in the Record of the Year category for producing "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion
- 2000 Grammy Award in the Producer of the Year, Non-Classical category
- Walter Afanasieff biography at AOL Music
- Featured writers: Walter Afanasieff at Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
- Walter Afanasieff biography at Musicianguide.com
- Focus Taiwan article on Afanasieff and Lin yu-Chun partnership.
- Joaquin Lievano personal Web site.
- Mixonline.com interview with Afanasieff.
- Licence to Kill at Discogs.com
- Songs from the year 1998 at Tsort.info. Archived 18 January 2010 at WebCite
- Classic Songwriter Story: How Walter Afanasieff Wrote The Classic Hit, "Hero," With Mariah Carey.
- Mixonline.com interview with Walter Afanasieff
- SongwriterUniverse interview with Walter Afanasieff on how he wrote "Hero" with Mariah Carey
- Walter Afanasieff biography at Musicianguide.com
- Biography of Walter Afanasieff at AOL Music