It's been 30 years since R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne released his first solo album after a tenure in the band L.T.D. "It's gone by awfully quick," he notes, but it's also validated a decision that's seen him score 15 R&B chart singles -- hitting No. 1 with "She's On the Left" in 1988.
"I was very apprehensive," recalls Osborne, 64, who also wrote the lyrics to Whitney Houston's 1985 hit "All at Once" and appeared on USA For Africa's "We Are the World" that same year. "It was like venturing off into the unknown. I didn't know what to expect. I was very comfortable at that point being a part of a group and I was leaving something successful.
"I just got really fortunate I picked the right people to work with -- especially picking George Duke as a producer...And I got lucky with the first record. Sometimes it takes awhile, but the first single ('I Really Don't Need No Light') did well and then 'On the Wings of Love' became a signature song, so that kind of solidified me as a solo artist."
Osborne has tapped Duke -- who produced his first three albums -- to work on his next album, which will be a collection of pop standards. He's already picked out songs, including "When I Fall in Love, "My Funny Valentine," "Teach Me to Love" and Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World," and he hopes to be finished recording by June.
"This is something I've always wanted to do," says Osborne, who's also hosting a charity golf tournament during mid-August in his home state of Rhode Island. "But every time I would sign wtih a record company they wanted me to do an original songs. I'd try to make that push to do an album of classics, standards, and they'd be like, 'Nah, we want an original album...'
"Now I've gotten to the point where it's time to do some of the things I've wanted to do, and this the top of the list."
Jeffrey Osborne performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $41 and $39. Call (313) 237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
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