Jaki Graham is a unique vocalist and one of the most appealing Soul entertainers to emerge from the UK.
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. ‘Could it Be I’m Falling In Love?’ reached No.5 in the British charts in March ’85, with her second and last hit duet entitled ‘Mated’. ‘Round and Around’ (No.9) was Jaki’s first solo hit in June ’85, ‘Set Me Free (No.7) in May ’86, ‘Breaking Away’ (No.14) followed in August ’86 and ‘Step Right Up’ gave her yet another Top 20 in November ‘86. Jaki achieved a Guinness World Record as the first black British female solo artist to have 6 consecutive Top 10 / 20 hits, unheard of by a black British female at that time.
Michael McDonald, whilst looking for a female singer to accompany him on ‘On My Own’ for his UK Tour, personally chose Jaki over a stream of UK female vocalists stating she was ‘one of the best singers Britain has ever produced’. Their friendship remains to this day and he has gone on to write for Jaki’s on previous albums.
Particularly successful in Japan in the 90’s (releasing 5 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 reaching No.1 in the Billboard dance charts for 5 weeks and the video made 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, and following the phenomenal worldwide response to her ‘Gershwin & Soul’ concert with the BBC Big Band for Radio 2 in October 2009, only two weeks after being aired, the second was confirmed. March 2010 saw Jaki again perform with the BBC Big Band, this time for an evening of Duke Ellington classics.
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, 5 bonus tracks were added, 3 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, as Michael’s Special Guest.
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 and Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr of Fifth Dimension, which is available on DVD, having been filmed cross 2 nights at London’s o2 Arena.
2012, has been a very busy year! Having been approached to re-vocal ‘SET ME FREE’ the song was released as a single on May 14th as ‘SET ME FREE 2012’, by DJ Paul Rudd feat. Jaki Graham’. Jaki also completed work on her first, long awaited studio album in over 15 year. This gave Jaki the chance to pay homage to some of the classics she was herself brought up listening too, only this time with a more contemporary Jazz twist.
Recently joining forces with Paul Wayne Gregory chocolates, a world leading Artisan and bespoke chocolatier (www.paulwaynegregory.com), we will see her own exclusive range launched alongside her forthcoming and highly anticipated Autobiography ‘Heaven Knows’ which is due to be published in 2014.
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!”