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Robert Hunter Caldwell (born August 15, 1951) is an American singer and songwriter who recorded the hit single "What You Won't Do for Love" in 1978. After several R&B and smooth jazz albums, Caldwell turned to singing standards from the Great American Songbook. He maintains a loyal following in Japan.
Bobby Caldwell, 2009
|Birth name||Robert Hunter Caldwell|
|Born||August 15, 1951|
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Origin||Miami, Florida, U.S.|
Bobby Caldwell was born in Manhattan but grew up in Miami. His mother sold real estate, and one of her clients was reggae singer Bob Marley; Caldwell and Marley became friends. Growing up in Miami exposed Caldwell to a variety of music, such as Haitian, Latin, reggae, and R&B. He grew up listening to the music of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
When he was 12, Caldwell started playing piano and guitar. He was drawn to rock and roll, as well as jazz and rhythm and blues. At 17, he worked with his band in Las Vegas then moved to Los Angeles.
He signed with TK Records in Miami. In 1978, after songs for his first album were recorded, executives told Caldwell they enjoyed the album but thought it was lacking a hit. Caldwell returned to the studio for two days and wrote "What You Won't Do for Love". TK was mainly an R&B label popular among African American listeners. Executives at the label wanted to conceal the fact that Caldwell was white, so they kept his face off the album cover. When he toured with Natalie Cole to support the album, most of the audience was black, and many were surprised that he turned out to be white.
"What You Won't Do for Love" reached the top ten on the Billboard magazine Pop (No. 9) R&B (No. 6), and Adult Contemporary (No. 10) charts. The song has been covered, remade, and sampled many times. Caldwell remade it in 1998. It was covered by Go West, Phyllis Hyman, and Boyz II Men, and has been sampled by Tupac Shakur. It was also covered by Elliott Yamin during the fifth season of American Idol in 2006. The 1980 track "Open Your Eyes" was sampled by J Dilla on Common's "The Light" from his 2000 album "Like Water For Chocolate".
The debut album was followed by Cat in the Hat (1980) and Carry On (1982). For the latter album, Caldwell played all the instruments, was the producer, and helped with arranging and mixing. In 1983, Caldwell released August Moon only in Japan. It was released in the United States in the 1990s.
Singer Boz Scaggs advised Caldwell to write songs for other musicians after TK Records shut down. Caldwell wrote "The Next Time I Fall", which became a hit for Amy Grant and Peter Cetera, and songs for Roy Ayers, Chicago, Natalie Cole, Neil Diamond, Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau, and Boz Scaggs.
On Blue Condition (1996), Caldwell turned from R&B to recording big band arrangements of songs from the Great American Songbook, particularly those sung by Frank Sinatra. He also portrayed Sinatra in tributes to the Rat Pack in Las Vegas. He continued to sing standards on Come Rain or Come Shine (1999), The Consummate Bobby Caldwell (2010), and After Dark (2014). In 2015, he collaborated with record producer Jack Splash on the album Cool Uncle.
Caldwell wrote and performed songs for the movies Back to School ("Educated Girl"), Mac and Me ("Take Me, I'll Follow You"), Salsa ("Puerto Rico"), and its sequel ("Every Teardrop"). Due to what he has cited in interviews as a lower cost of use than the original recordings, his versions of big band standards have appeared in several films. Examples include Simone (2001) and Lake Boat (2002).
Aside from a minor role in 1988's Salsa, Caldwell portrayed Frank Sinatra from October 1999 to January 2000 in the Las Vegas musical The Rat Pack is Back.
Caldwell is popular in Japan, where he was nicknamed "Mister AOR." In Japan, the term "AOR" (AOR short for "Adult Oriented Rock" in Japan circa 1980, means rock music not for youth but for more socially matured people) is used to describe the style commonly called Adult Contemporary in the United States. In 1992, he received the Japan's equivalent of a Grammy Award for Best International Artist.
|Year||Title||Billboard chart peak||Certification|
|1978||Bobby Caldwell||No. 21 Albums, No. 7 R&B||US: Double Platinum, Japan: Platinum|
|1980||Cat in the Hat||No. 113 Albums, No. 46 R&B||US: Gold, Japan: Platinum|
|1982||Carry On||No. 133 Albums, No. 41 R&B||Japan: Gold|
|1983||August Moon||Japan: Gold|
|1989||Heart of Mine|
|1992||Stuck on You||No. 65 R&B|
|1993||Where is Love|
|1995||Soul Survivor||No. 6 Jazz Albums, No. 23 R&B|
|1996||Blue Condition||No. 18 Jazz Albums|
|1999||Come Rain or Shine|
|2005||Perfect Island Nights||No. 5 Jazz Albums|
|2007||Live at the Blue Note Tokyo|
|2010||The Consummate Caldwell|
|2012||House of Cards|
|2015||Cool Uncle||No. 18 Jazz Albums|
|1998||Timeline: The Anthology||No. 8 US Jazz Albums|
|2001||Time and Again: The Anthology Part 2|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1976||"The House is Rockin'"||—||—||—||—||Non-album single|
|1978||"What You Won't Do for Love"||9||6||10||—||Bobby Caldwell|
|"Can't Say Goodbye"||103||36||—||—|
|"Down for the Third Time"||—||—||—||—|
|1980||"Coming Down from Love"||42||28||—||—||Cat in the Hat|
|"All of My Love"||77||67||—||—|
|1984||"Don't Quit" (12")||—||—||—||53||Non-album single from Body by Jake soundtrack|
|1987||"What You Won't Do for Love" (reissue)||—||—||—||—||Bobby Caldwell|
|1988||"Take Me, I'll Follow You"||—||—||—||—||Mac and Me soundtrack|
|1991||"Real Thing"||—||—||41||—||Heart of Mine|
|"Janet"||—||88||—||—||Stuck on You|
|1996||"I Give In"||125||53||—||—||Soul Survivor|
|2015||"Miami Nights"||—||—||—||—||Cool Uncle|
|"—" denotes single did not chart or was not released|
- Ankeny, Jason. "Bobby Caldwell". AllMusic. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- Gordon, Ed (May 19, 2005). "Bobby Caldwell: 'Perfect Island Nights'". NPR.org. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
- "Singer/Songwriter Bobby Caldwell". PBS.org: Tavis Smiley. June 17, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- "What You Won't Do For Love Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- "Tawiah Covers Bobby Caldwell's "Open Your Eyes"". okayplayer.com.
- Wynn, Ron. "Carry On". AllMusic. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
- Appleford, Steve (October 6, 1991). "Writing Hits Not Enough for Singer Caldwell". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
- Leight, Elias (November 18, 2015). "Cool Uncle: Inside 2015's Smartest Retro-Soul Revival". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
- Kohlhaase, Bill (August 2, 1999). "Caldwell Goes Back a Bit and Does It Frank's Way". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- Rizik, Chris (December 9, 2014). "Bobby Caldwell – After Dark (2014) (Review)". SoulTracks. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- "Discography". Bobby Caldwell. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- "Bobby Caldwell | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- "Bobby Caldwell Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved November 13, 2017.