When you think of extraordinary singers and producers who defined the soulful sound of 80’s R&B, the Harlem-native’s name, Kashif, may not be the first to come to mind, but he should definitely be a part of the conversation. The multi-instrumentalist was born Michael Jones in 1959 and quickly entered the foster care system after his mother was incarcerated when he was only four months old. After suffering years of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his foster parents, he finally moved into a more stable home where his love for music was ignited with the purchase of a $3.00 flute. This was the beginning of a long musical affair where he mastered several other instruments including the trumpet, piano, flute, saxophone and tuba. His knack for precision and being a quick learner landed him his first major gig as a keyboard player and vocalist with the disco and funk group, B.T. Express, best known for their hit, “Do it (‘Til You’re Satisfied).”
Kashif was also an accomplished solo artist signed to Arista in 1983 with memorable hits like, “I Just Got To Have You, Lover Turn Me On”, “Stone Love”, “Help Yourself to My Love” and the Grammy-nominated instrumental “The Mood.” In 1984, his second album, Send Me Your Love, resulted in two Grammy nominations for “Edgartown Groove” featuring Al Jarreau, and the instrumental “Call Me Tonight.” The record also featured the hits “Baby Don’t Break Your Baby’s Heart” and “Are You the Woman.” Although a soulful crooner, he is best known as being a sought-after producer and has worked with the likes of Dionne Warwick, Evelyn “Champagne” King, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Johnny Kemp, George Duke, Will Downing, Melba Moore, Stacy Lattisaw and Meli’sa Morgan. His most mainstream feat is being credited as the person who jumpstarted the careers of both Whitney Houston and Kenny G. He produced Whitney Houston’s debut single, “You Give Good Love” which went on to be her first gold seller and launched the career of the talented saxophonist Kenny G with the singles, “Hi, How Ya Doin’?” and “Nighttime in Tribeca.” He also redefined the sound of disco queen Evelyn “Champagne” King with a more minimalistic approach on the hit songs, “I’m in Love” and “Betcha She Don’t Love You.”
His vast contributions to R&B, jazz and the music industry in general are undeniable. Towards the latter part of his career his contribution would continue on a literary platform as he coined the book, Everything You’d Better Know About The Record Industry. His passions also led him down a path of activism as he created and founded the Kashif University One-on-One, Brooklyn Boy Films, Brooklyn Boy Software, the Team iCare Foundation and produced the very first iCare Walk/Run for Foster Care at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. He also produced and directed a ten-part documentary series, The History of R&B Music and Its Influence on World Culture and with an invitation from the UCLA Extension program, he created the class, “Contemporary Record Production With Kashif.” He will not only be remembered as a Six-time Grammy nominated songwriter, producer, artist, author and director, but as a humanitarian and activist that used his musical gift to change the world around him! He passed, Monday night, at the age of 56 in his home in Los Angeles, CA.
You Give Good Love
I’m in Love
Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied)