The Evolution of A Crooner, Will Downing

by Richard Lallite

The Evolution of A Crooner, Will Downing

His meteoric rise to fame as an accomplished musician is a reflection of his grit, determination, and love of the art form.

His meteoric rise to fame as an accomplished musician is a reflection of his grit, determination, and love of the art form.

Contemporary R&B and jazz musician Wilfred “Will” Downing came into this world in Brooklyn, New York on November 29, 1963. Will Downing has been performing for almost 30 years, and along that time he has built a loyal fan base and become famous for his velvety baritone voice and love songs. His meteoric rise to fame as an accomplished musician is a reflection of his grit, determination, and love of the art form.

In The Beginning

The diverse cultural fabric of New York City had a profound impact on Downing’s musical sensibility as he grew up in Brooklyn. Soulful musicians such as Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross, and Donny Hathaway impacted him. Because of his family’s passion for music of all kinds, he was exposed to music at a young age and developed an early and profound respect for it.

Erasmus Hall High School, which has a long list of famous graduates in the entertainment business, gave Downing the ideal setting in which to hone his musical abilities. He continued his education at Richmond’s Virginia Union University, where he worked on his voice and started playing in local venues and clubs. During this time, he honed his own sound, which fused elements of jazz, R&B, and soul.

First Steps in a Profession: Recording Session Vocals and Background Music

After returning to New York in the 1980s, Downing began his professional career as a session vocalist. Producers and fellow musicians took notice of his unique voice, which led to offers to provide backup vocals for a variety of acts. An early break occurred when he collaborated with jazz fusion composer and drummer Billy Cobham on his 1982 album “Observations & Reflections.”

He also collaborated with Roy Ayers and Gerald Albright as a session singer. Downing was able to hone his skills and make important contacts in the business through these experiences, which paved the way for his solo career.

“Will Downing” (1988) was the debut album.

Will Downing’s 1988 self-titled debut album was released by Island Records. Showcasing his silky voice and intricate musical arrangements, the CD was well-received by critics and listeners alike. Covering John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” the highlight single expertly fuses jazz and R&B elements, earning it significant praise for its creative take.

Aside from the UK-popular “Free,” other significant tunes on the CD include “Do You?” After the release of his first album, Downing became known as a fresh talent to watch in the worlds of R&B and jazz.

Success and artistic development that never ends

“Come Together as One,” Downing’s 1989 sophomore effort, after the success of his initial album. “Come Together as One” was a smash success off the album, and it cemented his status as a gifted singer and composer. He maintained a devoted following thanks to his ability to make listeners feel something through his music.

“A Dream Fulfilled,” Downing’s 1991 album, featured the single “I Try,” a rendition of the song by Angela Bofill. With more complex arrangements and more developed lyrical ideas, this album demonstrated his artistic development. Having “A Dream Fulfilled” as a hit only served to solidify his position in the music business.

A Decade of Reliability and Progress: The 1990s

A string of critically acclaimed albums and fruitful partnerships characterised Will Downing’s fruitful ’90s. One of his albums that showcased his versatility and ability to merge musical genres was “Love’s the Place to Be,” which was published in 1993. Another popular track from the album, “There’s No Living Without You,” was featured on it.

With the 1995 release of “Moods,” Downing further demonstrated his talent for musically conveying profound feelings. He was already a major player in the modern R&B and jazz sectors when his breakthrough single “Sorry, I” became widely played on the radio.

His 1998 album “Pleasures of the Night” featuring saxophonist Gerald Albright was one of the most talked-about endeavors of that decade. The album showcased the harmonious relationship between Downing’s heartfelt vocals and Albright’s silky saxophone playing; the songs ranged from modern R&B to jazz standards. Critically acclaimed “Pleasures of the Night” demonstrated Downing’s mastery of joint endeavors.

Conquering Obstacles: Health Difficulties and the Power of Resilience

A rare autoimmune illness known as polymyositis, which causes inflammation and weakening of the muscles, was a major health concern for Will Downing in 2007. He had to take a break from recording and performing after receiving the devastating prognosis. The mental and physical toll was immense, but Downing remained resolute and unfaltering.

Maintaining a positive attitude and connecting with his fans through social media, Downing continued to do so while he recovered. His resiliency and dedication to his work shone through as he encouraged many during this challenging time.

Welcome Back to Music: “After Tonight” (2007) and More!

Released in 2007, Downing’s “After Tonight” marked a successful return to music following his diagnosis. Featuring the critically acclaimed tune “After Tonight,” the album served as a monument to his tenacity. As one of his most moving albums to date, it dealt with universal themes of love, optimism, and persistence.

Albums like “Classique,” which Downing released in 2009, showcased his distinctive fusion of soul, jazz, and R&B. Highlights of the CD included the songs “Something Special” and “More Time (Tic Toc).” “Classique” was well-received and further solidified Downing’s position as a prominent figure in modern music.

Progress in Artistic Expression and Current Works

Will Downing has been steadily developing as an artist over the past few years, putting out albums that showcase his range and staying power. He accomplished a great deal with his ambitious 2010 publication, “Lust, Love & Lies (An Audio Novel),” which fused narration with music. The album’s original music and spoken word segments made for an interesting and engaging listening experience.

Downing’s capacity to experiment with new musical styles and merge genres is on full display in his future albums, such as “Silver” (2013) and “Euphoria” (2014). He showcases his flexibility and diverse musical inspirations on these CDs, which feature both original songs and covers.

In 2018, Downing returned to gospel music with the release of “The Promise,” an album. Reflecting his faith and appreciation for overcoming his health issues, the CD was a profoundly personal project. Highlights of “The Promise” included the critically acclaimed singles “Look At Yourself (In the Mirror)” and “You Blessed My Life.”

Impact That Continues

Will Downing’s career displays his unwavering dedication to music, perseverance, and talent. His three-decade career has seen him garner critical praise and a devoted following as a pioneer of modern R&B and jazz. He stands out from the crowd thanks to his velvety baritone voice and his ability to make listeners feel profound things through his music.

Along with his musical achievements, Downing is an inspiration to young artists due to his ability to persevere through difficult times. His ability to evoke strong feelings in his audience is a direct result of his openness to sharing his life story through music. Inspiring and uplifting everyone around him with his power and candor, Downing’s influence goes beyond just his music.

In Summary

A wonderful path of creative development, perseverance, and commitment to one’s art forms characterizes Will Downing’s career. Downing has proven time and again that he can adapt to the ever-shifting music industry, from his humble beginnings as a session vocalist to his current status as a renowned solo artist. His multi-talented talents, heartfelt performances, and distinctive voice have solidified his rightful position as one of the most revered figures in modern R&B and jazz.

As long as Downing keeps putting out music and playing live for his fans, his reputation as a groundbreaking musician will go on. His impact on the music industry is immeasurable, and his story is an inspiration to musicians everywhere. Will Downing’s influence on the music industry is inescapable, thanks to a career spanning more than three decades. His legacy will reverberate for a long time.

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