As anticipation builds towards the November 30th release of Mr. I on Def Jam/Def Soul Recordings, the first solo album ever by Ronald Isley – it has just been announced that 2010’s gala Soul Train Awards will honor “the longstanding careers and musical influences” of Isley and Anita Baker.
Returning to co-host the music special will be Academy Award-nominated actors Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. This year’s 23rd Soul Train Awards, which also marks the second annual simulcast of the awards on Centric and BET (Black Entertainment Television), will tape at the Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta on November 10th and will premiere at 9:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, November 28th, two days before the release of Mr. I.
Headlined by the new single “No More,” Mr. I is executive produced by Ronald Isley and Antonio ‘L.A.’ Reid, Chairman, Island Def Jam Music Group. Artists putting in guest appearances include T.I. (“Put Your Money On Me”) and the Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin, on the album’s climactic closing version of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” produced by Jerry ‘Wonda’ Duplessis (of the Fugees). This album not only marks Ronald’s first solo foray, but the milestone 50 years in the recording business!
Mr. I continues the Isley tradition of working with today’s hottest young producers. In addition to Fuego (who co-produced “No More” with Max Gousse) and Duplessis, other producers include Greg Curtis (known for his work with Keyshia Cole) on four tracks, Tricky Stewart, Kajun, and Song Dynasty. “This is my first time working with all of these producers,” Ronald says, “and each of them has been able to capture what I’m about musically. All of them are so into the music of the Isley Brothers, they grew up on it. They’ve come with some incredible songs and once they saw what I could do with what they brought, they were flabbergasted!”
Ronald Isley has been picking up where he left off as senior member and lead singer of first generation Rock And Roll Hall Of Famers the Isley Brothers – who have the distinction of placing hit singles on the pop and R&B charts in every decade of the rock era: the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s. Ronald’s ongoing “Celebration Tour” took him to Washington, DC in July – where he performed at the National Urban League 100th Anniversary gala, honoring First Lady Michelle Obama and Congressman Charles Rangel (D., NY), president of the Urban League.
The long-awaited Mr. I is the first new album to bear the Isley imprint since Baby Makin’ Music, released May 2006 on Def Jam/Def Soul Recordings. The #1 R&B/#5 pop album spun off the R&B hit, “Just Came Here to Chill.” Both the single and the album were nominated for Soul Train Music Awards at the ceremonies in March 2007. (After a hiatus in 2008, the show returned in 2009 as the Soul Train Awards, now moved to Atlanta from its long-time base in Los Angeles.)
The Isley Brothers first arrived at Island Records in 1996, with the #2 R&B album, Mission To Please. The album struck RIAA platinum on the strength of the #1 R&B/ #4 pop hit single, “Down Low” with R. Kelly. In addition to R. Kelly, contributing producers and co- writers included Babyface and Keith Sweat, among the many artists whose lives and music were inspired by the Isley Brothers.
Mission To Please was followed by the RIAA platinum #1 R&B/#3 pop Eternal (Dreamworks, 2001), which introduced Ronald’s alter ego, Mr. Biggs, and featured the pop/R&B crossover hit, “Contagious,” also written and produced by R. Kelly. The RIAA gold #1 Pop/ #1 R&B album Body Kiss (Dreamworks, May 2003) was a collaboration with younger brother Ernie Isley, and yielded the Top 15 R&B hit, “What Would You Do?” A change of pace came with Here I Am: Ron Isley Sings Burt Bacharach (Dreamworks, November 2003), produced, arranged and conducted by Bacharach.