Norman Connors

Last updated
Norman Connors
Norman Conners 1997.jpg
Connors in 1997
Background information
Birth nameNorman Connors
Born (1947-03-01) March 1, 1947 (age 74)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres Jazz
Jazz fusion
Smooth jazz
Occupation(s)Musician
Composer
Arranger
Producer
InstrumentsDrum
Years active1967–present
Labels Buddah
Arista
Capitol
Motown
Shanachie

Norman Connors (born March 1, 1947) [1] is an American jazz drummer, composer, arranger, and producer who has led some 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.

Contents

Biography

Connors lived in the same Philadelphia neighbourhood as comedian Bill Cosby (just 4 doors away) and had an interest in jazz from a very early age when he began to play drums. 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. He first met his idol, Miles Davis, aged just 13 in 1960.

He once sat in for Elvin Jones at a John Coltrane performance he attended while in middle school. 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. [ citation needed ]

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. The most successful of these was "You Are My Starship" (#4 R&B, #27 Pop), featuring Henderson in 1976, while "Valentine Love", his first chart success, made #10 R&B in 1975, 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.

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 Spencer Harrison. Connors also introduced another up and coming singer on the Passion LB 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.

Discography

Studio albums

YearAlbumPeak chart positions Certifications Record label
US
[2]
US
R&B

[2]
US
Jazz

[2]
US
Cont Jazz

[2]
CAN
[3]
1972Dance of Magic Cobblestone
1973Dark of Light
1974Love from the Sun Buddah
Slewfoot51
1975 Saturday Night Special 15035
1976 You Are My Starship 395
1977 Romantic Journey 9424
1978 This Is Your Life 682092 Arista
1979 Invitation 13734
1980 Take It to the Limit 14530
1981Mr. C19751
1988Passion39 Capitol
1993Remember Who You Are7019 MoJazz
1996Easy Living47
2000Eternity1813 The Right Stuff
2009Star Power136 Shanachie
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums

YearAlbumPeak chart positionsRecord label
US
[2]
US
R&B

[2]
1978The Best of Norman Connors & Friends17544Buddah
1997The Encore Collection BMG
1998The Very Best of Norman Connors Camden
1999Melancholy Fire - The Best of Norman Connors Razor & Tie
2001The Best of Norman ConnorsBuddha
2017Valentine Love - The Buddah/Arista Anthology SoulMusic
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Singles

YearSinglePeak chart positionsAlbum
US
[2]
US
R&B

[2]
US
Dan

[2]
CAN
[3]
1975"Valentine Love" (featuring Michael Henderson & Jean Carn)9710Saturday Night Special
1976"We Both Need Each Other" (featuring Michael Henderson & Phyllis Hyman)10123You Are My Starship
"You Are My Starship" (featuring Michael Henderson)27470
1977"Betcha by Golly, Wow" (featuring Phyllis Hyman)10229
"Once I've Been There" (featuring Phillip Mitchell)1630Romantic Journey
"For You Everything" (featuring Phillip Mitchell & Eleanore Mills)
1978"This Is Your Life" (featuring Eleanore Mills)31This 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)28Take It to the Limit
"Melancholy Fire" (featuring Glenn Jones)20
1981"She's Gone" (featuring Beau Williams)86Mr. C
1988"I Am Your Melody" (featuring Spencer Harrison)26Passion
"You're My One and Only Love" (featuring Gabrielle Goodman)
"Lovin' You" (featuring Gabrielle Goodman)
1993"Remember Who You Are" (featuring Phyllis Hyman)86Remember 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

With Carlos Garnett

With Sam Rivers

With Pharoah Sanders

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References

  1. "Norman Connors profile at". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "US Charts > Norman Connors". Billboard . Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  3. 1 2 "CAN Charts > Norman Connors". RPM . Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  4. "American certifications – Norman Connors". Recording Industry Association of America . Retrieved August 8, 2020.