Black Pearls

Black Pearls

by Will DowningWill Downing


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The source material for the inspired, all-covers Black Pearls album was popularized strictly by women. It's an unsurprising concept, given that Will Downing made his 1987 solo debut with a version of Deniece Williams' "Free" and went on to cover classics by Rose Royce and Aretha Franklin. The singer's first album for the Shanachie label, this features updates of well-known songs, mostly ballads, that originated in the late '70s and the early '90s. The likes of Jean Carn's "Don't Let It Go to Your Head," Williams' "Black Butterfly," René & Angela's "Your Smile," and Brenda Russell's "Get Here" -- easily the biggest crossover hit among the selections -- are reinterpreted faithfully with Downing's typical richness and restraint. Phyllis Hyman's "Meet Me on the Moon" (1991), co-written by Gene McDaniels, is the deepest selection, but even that one is far from obscure, and it's evidently as close to Downing's heart as anything else. A characteristically polished recording produced by Downing, it involves discerning use of strings and horns, as well as help from some longtime associates. Wife Audrey Wheeler Downing on background vocals, Melvin Davis on bass, and Randy Bowland on guitar are all along for the trip. Kirk Whalum's flute augments "Nights Over Egypt," and Najee takes a saxophone solo on "Street Life."

Product Details

Release Date: 07/08/2016
Label: Shanachie
UPC: 0016351583222
catalogNumber: 5832
Rank: 32368


  1. Everything I Miss at Home
  2. Don't Ask My Neighbors
  3. Your Smile
  4. Get Here
  5. Street Life
  6. Everlasting Love
  7. Black Butterly
  8. Nights Over Egypt
  9. Meet Me on the Moon
  10. Don't Let It Go to Your Head

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Will Downing   Primary Artist,Background Vocals
Najee   Soloist
Kenny Davis   Bass
Gerald Veasley   Bass
Pablo Batista   Percussion
Randy Bowland   Guitar
Melvin Davis   Bass
Turner   Bass
Mark Walker   Bass
Kirk Whalum   Flute
Danny Hall   Horn
Darryl Dixon   Horn
Mike Logan   Keyboards
Ashley Scott   Background Vocals
Randall Haywood   Horn
Chris "Big Dog" Davis   Keyboards,Soloist
Audrey Wheeler Downing   Background Vocals
Jonathan Arons   Horn
Freddy Fox   Horn
Aja Downing   Background Vocals
Dwayne "Smitty" Smith   Bass
Dave Watson   Horn
J.J. Williams   Drums
Janay Barkley   Background Vocals
LaJuan Carter Dent   Background Vocals
Mike Logan   Drums,Keyboards
Joe Gorham   Hand Clapping
Derrick Sampson   Hand Clapping
Derek Corbett   Hand Clapping

Technical Credits

Will Downing   Producer,Cover Design
Brenda Russell   Composer
René Moore   Composer
Barry Mann   Composer
Dexter Wansel   Composer
Gene McDaniels   Composer
Dennis Belfield   Composer
Cynthia Biggs   Composer
Kenny Gamble   Composer
Leon Huff   Composer
Will Jennings   Composer
Kevin Murphy   Composer
Rob Paustian   Engineer
Skip Scarborough   Composer
Cynthia Weil   Composer
Angela Winbush   Composer
James Harris   Composer
Mike Logan   Arranger
Carrie Thompson   Composer
Phillip Smith   Engineer
Chris "Big Dog" Davis   Producer
Tip Wyman   Engineer
Chris Sulit   Engineer
Flemuel Brown   Engineer
David Wolinski   Composer
Terry Steven Lewis   Composer
Barry Eastmond   String Arrangements
Clarence Alexander   Composer
Matt Jones   String Arrangements
Joseph Sample   Composer
Kam Hauff   Engineer

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