Terry SteeleView in iTunes
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The music industry is full of people who earn their living in a behind the scenes fashion. Perhaps they're quite capable of singing or playing an instrument, but they pay their bills as managers, promoters, publicists, booking agents, or A&R people. Although Terry Steele is a talented urban contemporary/adult contemporary/quiet storm vocalist along the lines of Luther Vandross, Freddie Jackson, Peabo Bryson, and Glenn Jones, he spent much of his career behind the scenes -- for a long time, the Los Angeles resident had more commercial success as a songwriter than he did as a solo artist. In the '80s and '90s, Steele's songs were recorded by Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, and Dionne Warwick -- singers who were R&B-oriented but had a lot of adult contemporary and pop appeal. And Steele can easily be described the same way; he has tended to have his eye on the adult contemporary market as well as the R&B market and certainly isn't afraid of a pop-friendly crossover approach. Steele's best-known song is "Here and Now," which he co-wrote; Warwick brought the tune to Vandross' attention, and it became a major hit on both the R&B and pop charts in 1989. But despite "Here and Now"'s tremendous success, Steele didn't get very far as a solo artist in the late '80s or early '90s. In 1989, Steele signed with SBK, which released his solo album King of Hearts the following year. But the album received very little attention, and Steele didn't record any more albums for SBK (a label that is remembered for Wilson Phillips, Vanilla Ice, and Technotronic, among others). However, that wasn't the end of his work as a singer. He continued to provide background vocals for various artists, and he continued to write songs. In 1999, Steele got a nice break when he was hired as a lead vocalist by Hiroshima, a band that is quite popular in NAC circles and is known for smooth jazz, crossover jazz, and fusion as well as urban contemporary, quiet storm, and adult contemporary. Joining Hiroshima greatly increased Steele's visibility as a vocalist and made him less of a behind the scenes person. While the Hiroshima gig was a lucky break for Steele -- who had paid his share of dues over the years -- he didn't give up his solo career. In fact, the early 2000s found Steele dividing his time between Hiroshima and solo pursuits. In 2002, Steele co-produced his solo project Day by Day with Hiroshima keyboardist Kimo Cornwell, the person who had brought him into the band; the album was released by JTS Records that year. ~ Alex Henderson