In Your Ear: Soul Singer James Ingram Soul Singer and songwriter James Ingram reflects on the songs that have inspired his life including "What's It All About, Alfie?" Donny Hathaway's "For All We Know" and his own hit, "Just Once".
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In Your Ear: Soul Singer James Ingram

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In Your Ear: Soul Singer James Ingram

In Your Ear: Soul Singer James Ingram

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Now it's time for our segment In Your Ear, where ask some of our guests just what they're listening to these days.

Recently, soul singer and songwriter James Ingram joined us to remember Michael Jackson. Ingram had a close relationship with Jackson. He penned one of his early solo hits, "P.Y.T.(Pretty Young Thing)." We asked Ingram to reflect on three songs that shaped his own career.

Mr. JAMES INGRAM (Singer- Songwriter): Hi, this is James Ingram, and my three favorite songs are "Alfie, What's It All About?"

(Singing) What's it all about Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?

(Speaking) The melody. The words.

(Soundbite of song, "What's It All About, Alfie?")

Ms. DIONNE WARWICK (Singer): (Singing) Is it just for the moment we live? What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie? Are we meant to take more than we give?

Mr. INGRAM: "For All We Know" by Donny Hathaway.

(Soundbite of song, "For All We Know")

Mr. DONNY HATHAWAY (Singer-Songwriter): (Singing) For all we know...

Mr. INGRAM: Because it just goes through my whole soul. For all we know, we may never meet again. We may never meet again.

(Soundbite of song, "For All We Know")

Mr. HATHAWAY: (Singing)...we may never meet again.

Mr. INGRAM: When that reality comes through and you hear him singing that for some of the friends that you've had, like Michael, it's going to break you down every time.

(Soundbite of song, "For All We Know")

Mr. HATHAWAY: (Singing) For all we know this may only be a dream.

Mr. INGRAM: The third song is "Just Once."

(Singing) I did my best but I guess my best wasn't good enough, 'cause here we back where we were before. Seems nothing ever changes. We're back to being strangers.

(Soundbite of song "Just Once")

Mr. INGRAM: (Singing) Wondering if we oughta stay or head on out the door. Just once can't we figure out what we keep doing wrong?

Mr. INGRAM: And the reason why is, because very personally, because I did that as a $50 demo and it started my singing career with Quincy Jones, because prior to that I was not a singer, I was a musician playing for Ray Charles and Carl Carlton with "She's A Bad Mamma Jamma," playing (unintelligible) album and some of Shalamar's stuff.

And as a musician I was already blessed. But I did a demo for $50 called "Just Once" and it turned my whole life around as a singer. And they gave it to Quincy. Quincy heard it and said, who is this, and they gave him my phone number and he called and I couldn't believe it.

(Soundbite of song "Just Once")

Mr. INGRAM: (Singing) Just once can't we figure out what we keep doing wrong?

MARTIN: That was singer and songwriter James Ingram telling us about the music that shaped his life.

To hear my full conversation with James Ingram reflecting on the passing of Michael Jackson, head to the TELL ME MORE page of the new NPR.org.

(Soundbite of song "Just Once")

Mr. INGRAM: (Singing) Just once can't we find a way to finally make it right? Make the magic last for more than just one night. I know we can break through it if we could just get to it just once...

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(Soundbite of song "Just Once")

Mr. INGRAM: (Singing) Why it always come back to good-bye. Why can't we get ourselves in hand and admit to one another we're no good without the other. Take the best and make it better. Find a way to stay together. Just once can't we find a way to finally make it right? Whoa. Make the magic last for more than just one night, I know we can break through it...

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