Patti Austin, James Ingram Make a Date to Duet Together

Patti Austin photo by Carol Friedman

Patti Austin reveals that after 10 years of trying to line up James Ingram to do a duets album, it’s finally coming together.  “He kept saying ‘No, no, no, no, no.’  But finally the stars aligned,” says the Grammy-winning songstress with a laugh.

Part of the reason Austin and Ingram are joining forces for a full album is that they now have a producer they’re happy with for the job — Keith Thomas, who has worked with CeCe Winans and Amy Grant,  among others.  Another reason was that the entire recording industry has changed.  “That makes it a different kind of project.  We have to get this thing financed, but that also means we own it,” she points out.  Not surprisingly, “We already have people ready to book it, and we haven’t even recorded it yet.”

According to Austin, preliminary plans call for a mix of original songs and covers of some of the great male-female duets of the past.  As for any sure things?  “I can semi-guarantee Marvin and Tammy happening,” she says, referring to the classic hit-making duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  “We’ll probably record more than we need and pick out the best.”

The duet album release is a ways off — late next year, she reckons — while Patti has her own “Sound Advice” pop-soul-R&B album just now coming out.  Having focused on the jazz side of her career the last several years, she’s enjoying the response she’s getting to the record that takes her back to her pop-soul-R&B roots.   The songs range from a gospel-inspired take on Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be” to Patti’s rousing take on the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” — to her tribute song to another past collaborator, the late Michael Jackson.

She tells us she wanted to do a “Mikey” song in his honor, but “I wanted to do something very obscure, because everybody does the same five songs.  I wanted something people didn’t know or forgot they knew.”  She heard producer Greg Phillinganes “doodling around on the piano” one day and asked what he was playing — it sounded familiar.  “He said, ‘Oh, you don’t know it.’  And I said, ‘It’s driving me crazy…I know it’s Michael…It’s Jackson 5.  Play it from the top.'”  It turned out, the song was “Give it Up,” for which which Phillinganes did the original arrangement.

“I used to listen to that song every morning.  It was my wakeup song.  But I hadn’t heard it in 30 years,” marvels Patti.  She and the producer decided to “give it a Brazilian sendoff, but I said, ‘Greg, if it ain’t broke.  Don’t fix it.  There’s not a heck of a lot you should do with this.'”  Thus, some of the arrangement stays intact.

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This entry was posted in The Hollywood Exclusive by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and tagged , , on by .

About Stacy Jenel Smith

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley when it was a kids' Shangri La in the 60s and we had Fabulous Eddie's miniature golf and trampolines on Ventura Boulevard. My big brother frequented The Third Eye psychedelic shop back in the day, but he wound up turning out anyway. Dad was an NBC video man who worked on "Laugh-In," Dean Martin's show, and specials by everyone from Sinatra to Fred Astaire. Mom was a first class home maker and PTA and GCA volunteer. They're still doing great. Anxious to get going in life, I quit college and jumped into journalism when I was still a teenager, and was writing for the New York Times syndicate and People magazine before turning 20. But that was a long time, many adventures, lots of traveling around the world and thousands of interviews ago. I go back to the very last days of hot type and getting to talk to Henry Fonda and Bette Davis, and Sammy Davis at the old Brown Derby...What a ride. That's in no small part thanks to my amazing writing partner, Marilyn Beck, one of the grand old-school Hollywood columnist stars -- a true star -- who knows how to do it right. I'm lucky, for sure. Now is fun, too. I love going out to events with my 17-year-old daughter (Jonas Brothers!). Seeing everything fresh through her eyes renews my excitement about the game. In-between I went back and finished school -- University of Redlands -- married, divorced, and at long last found my true love. My favorite things outside of the show business realm are being with my family, my faith and spiritual growth, learning new things (from doing Qigong to uploading stuff on Facebook), and running. See you on the trail.

One thought on “Patti Austin, James Ingram Make a Date to Duet Together

  1. Ice Mama

    Would love to hear Patti Austin and James Ingram re-record a duet version of her own composition “In My Life”. She did a really nice duet version of this tune with Jerry Butler back in the late 70s or early 80s that is impossible to find other than on the YouTubes. Would love to hear an Austin/Ingram collaboration kept really elemental, maybe even live-in-studio, but dialed back from the emotional edge where Ingram sometimes strays. Maybe bring in Kirk Whalum for the sax solo.

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