With his unmistakable breezy, refined style, Burt Bacharach's compositions have defined song craft for an entire generation of songwriters. In over four decades of music making, Bacharach's catalog of songs have been interpreted by a pantheon of artists including Dionne Warwick, Perry Como, Herb Alpert and even The Beatles.
Often teamed with collaborator Hal David, the Bacharach/David duo brought both emotion and invention to the often staid songwriting style of New York's Brill Building in the 1960's. Singer, Dionne Warwick proved to be the most successful vehicle for Bacharach and David's songs, earning the trio fifteen Top 40 singles between 1962 and 1968. Turning his attention to movie scores in the late 60's, Bacharach, with David, earned Academy Awards for their score and original song,"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," written for the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Finally finding time in the late 60's to record his own compositions, Bacharach garnered praise for his easy, romantic performance style on both piano and vocals, charting on both UK and US charts. The 70's saw The Carpenters take Bacharach's "(They Long to Be) Close to You" to number 1 on US charts.
After The Carpenters took Bacharach's "(They Long to Be) Close to You" to number 1 on US charts, the 70's saw Bacharach record more of his own material. After Bacharach's professional split with David in the 1970's, the songwriter found another partner in lyricist, and future wife, Carole Bayer Sager. With Sager, Bacharach would pen the 80's all-star rock hit, "That's What Friends Are For." Originally written for the Ron Howard film, Night Shift in 1982, the song was re-recorded in 1986 by an all-star group, including Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight.
The 90's saw resurgence in Bacharach's popularity. In addition to his appearances in the Austin Powers spy spoof movies, Bacharach has found musical collaborators in the next generation of songwriters including Noel Gallagher of Oasis, and rocker Elvis Costello. Painted from Memory, Bacharach's critically acclaimed CD with Costello released in 1998, once again showcased Bacharach's songwriting ability and brought his craft to a new generation of music fans.
On his most recent collaboration, Here I Am: Ronald Isley Sings Burt Bacharach, Bacharach's songs receive consummate interpretations by soul master, Ronald Isley, proving that when it comes to musical interpretation, great songwriting knows no bounds.
In a musical legacy dating more than forty years, Ronald Isley is one of the prime movers and shakers in a group that has produced nearly half a century's worth of genre-bending pop music. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1941 Ronald Isley grew up in a home filled with music. His father, a professional singer, and his mother a gospel piano player, (often accompanying Ronald and his brothers on gospel piano,) Ronald and the Isley Brothers have carefully tended and replenished the rich musical soil in which their music is rooted.
Replacing his late brother Vernon as the lead singer for family group the Isley Brothers in 1955, Ronald Isley's vocals propelled the brother's gospel stylings into the formative territory of both R&B and Rock and Roll. First garnering acclaim in 1959 for their million-selling single "Shout," the Isleys hit the top 20 two years later, in 1962, with a cover of the Top Notes' "Twist and Shout." In 1969, the group hit number two on US Top 40 charts with the exceptionally funky workout, "It's Your Thing," eventually selling five million copies and cementing the Isley's place in pop history.
Ronald and the Isleys have continued recording popular, acclaimed music together into the 21st century. From 1973's hit album, 3 + 3 (the album's name signifying the second generation of Isley brothers stepping in to carry on the Isley Brothers musical tradition) to 2001's Eternal, (where the elder Isley introduced the alter-ego Mr. Biggs,) Ronald Isley has been at the helm of the group, constantly pushing boundaries and exploring new musical territory. "We didn't get to where we are by staying the same," said Ronald, "we set off... to incorporate new voices into The Isley Brothers sound."
Having launched the careers of fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Jimi Hendrix and Elton John, and more recently having worked with the likes of R. Kelly, Jill Scott and Raphael Saadiq, Ronald Isley is no stranger to the power fresh, new sounds that the right collaborator can provide. On his latest collaboration, Here I Am: Ron Isley Sings Burt Bacharach, Isley takes on songs from the extensive Bacharach catalog, newly charted by the composer specifically for this collaboration. With his voice at its earthy, mellowed best, Isley takes once familiar tunes- and with his interpretive spirit, makes them his own.
"I've always been attracted to the more soulful singers, " admitted Bacharach, "Ron is a spectacular singer. I'm not sure there's anyone better."