Jaki Graham is a unique vocalist and one of the most appealing soul entertainers to emerge from the UK with massive hit singles Mated, Round and Around, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, Step Right Up, Set Me Free and Breaking Away plus many, many more.
Married at 19 to Tony Ormsby (older brother of ex-Aston Villa footballer and Leeds United Captain, Brendan Ormsby), Jaki went on to sign with EMI in 1983, and ‘Heaven Knows’ became the title track of her debut album. The duet ‘Could it Be I’m Falling In Love?’ reached number 5 in the British charts in March 1985, while ‘Round and Around’ (charted at number 9) was Jaki’s first solo hit in June 1985. ‘Set Me Free’ (number 7) followed in May 1986, as did ‘Breaking Away’ (number 14) in August 1986 and ‘Step Right Up’ which gave her yet another top 20 hit in November 1986. Jaki achieved a Guinness World Record as the first black British female solo artist to have six consecutive Top 10/20 hits, unheard of at that time.
Michael McDonald chose Jaki over a stream of UK female vocalists to accompany him on his world tour, stating she was ‘one of the best singers Britain has ever produced’. They remain close friends to this day and he has written for Jaki on many albums.
Particularly successful in Japan in the 90’s (releasing five albums), her first album ‘Real Life’ sold more than 800,000 copies in under four weeks, with tickets for her tour selling out in 20 minutes. ‘Real Life’ gave Jaki international hit singles elevating her status further. ‘Ain’t Nobody’ did exceptionally well in the USA, sitting at number 1 in the Billboard dance charts for five weeks, while the video made the top 5 in the American Black Entertainment Charts (BET). Sales of ‘Ain’t Nobody’ reached gold in Australia, Japan and the USA.
During this period, Motown signed the album ‘Kiss the Sky’, which featured Jaki on lead vocals, and has since gone on to sell significant numbers worldwide, making Jaki officially Motown!
As Jaki celebrates over 30 years in the industry, her story is an inspiration. Following the phenomenal worldwide response to her ‘Gershwin & Soul’ concert with the BBC Big Band for Radio 2 in October 2009, a second concert was confirmed almost immediately. March 2010 saw Jaki again perform with the BBC Big Band, this time for an evening of Duke Ellington classics.
March 2010 also saw the international release of Jaki’s three Japanese albums. Until this point “Real Life”, “Rhythm of Life” and “My Life” had only been available in limited territories which had meant that many fans had never heard some of her finest recordings.
2010 continued to be a hive of activity as Cherry Pop records released a special edition CD of Jaki’s 1986 album “Breaking Away”. In addition to the original 12-track album, five bonus tracks were added, three of which were exclusive to this release.
The summer of 2010 also saw Jaki accompany Michael McDonald and Al Green on their UK ‘Legends’ Arena Tour which included Birmingham LG, Manchester MEN and London’s O2 Arena.
Jaki was invited to join Sir Cliff Richard on his successful ‘Soulicious’ Arena Tour in October 2011, as his only British Special Guest alongside James Ingram, Percy Sledge, Freda Payne, Lamont Dozier, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr of Fifth Dimension. The show is available on DVD, having been filmed across two nights at London’s O2 Arena.
“Absolute Essential – The Very Best of Jaki Graham”, a two-disc compilation album containing 28 of her finest recordings to date, was launched in 2012. In the same year she re-recorded her vocals for ‘Set Me Free’ to feature on the DJ Paul Rudd single and launched a range of chocolates with Paul Wayne Gregory Chocolates. She also released an autobiography entitled ‘Heaven Knows’.
In her own words “I’ve had a lot of pains and struggles in my life, but I’m still here Darlin’ and still enjoying every minute of it.”
BOOK JAKI GRAHAM
Tel: 01253 595960