During the late '80s, Al B. Sure! enjoyed a brief run as one of new jack swing's most popular romantic singers.
Born Al Brown in Boston, he grew up in Mount Vernon, NY, listening to smooth crooners like Marvin Gaye
and Johnny Mathis
; he later became interested in rap and added that skill to his vocal repertoire. At age ten, he and a friend performed on a song written by Ellie Greenwich for the soundtrack of Sesame Street, and later he began writing songs with his cousin Kyle West. While in high school (where he quarterbacked the football team), he became friends with Edward Ferrell, aka DJ Eddie F, who was working with rapper Heavy D
at the time. Eddie F introduced the still-teenaged Al B. Sure! to Heavy D
's manager/Uptown label head Andre Harrell, who had him sing backing vocals on several Heavy D
tracks and helped him get a deal with Warner Brothers. Featuring production from DJ Eddie F and a number of co-writes with West, Al B. Sure!'s debut album, In Effect Mode, was released in 1988 and became a platinum-selling sensation thanks to the single "Nite and Day," which reached the Top Ten on the pop charts and topped the R&B charts for three weeks. The follow-up, "Off on Your Own (Girl)," was also a number one R&B hit, and he became a bona fide star among urban audiences, though he didn't remain a presence on the pop charts. His second album, Private Times...and the Whole 9, appeared in 1990 and produced another R&B number one in "Misunderstanding," as well as a duet with Diana Ross
called "No Matter What." His third album, 1992's Sexy Versus, wasn't as successful, and he took a hiatus from recording, eventually landing a vice president position at Motown. In 1996, he survived a potentially nasty car accident in New York, and in 2002, he began hosting a quiet storm-style radio show in the San Francisco Bay Area. Signed to the Hidden Beach label, he finally returned with Honey I'm Home, his first album in 17 years, in 2009. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi