GRAMMY-winning recording artist Raphael Saadiq recently visited The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., to participate in an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview and perform a brief set, including "Heart Attack" from 2011's Stone Rollin'. Saadiq discussed recording music for the upcoming film, Black Nativity, performing a tribute to Solomon Burke at the 53rd GRAMMY Awards with Mick Jagger and opening for Prince at age 18, among other topics.
"My first [big] break I played with Prince and Sheila E. on tour … [I] got a lot of time to hang out with Prince and get to know him and see how it's done," said Saadiq. "So the bar … was raised very high. So I still kind of hold that standard to people now."
Born Charlie Ray Wiggins in Oakland, Calif., Saadiq received his first career break in 1986, landing an opportunity to play in Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter Trustee Sheila E.'s band during a tour opening for Prince. In 1987 he formed the R&B/soul trio Tony! Toni! Toné! with his brother, Dwayne Wiggins, and cousin, Timothy Christian Riley. The group charted six songs in the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Anniversary," which reached No. 10 in 1993 and earned a nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues Song at the 36th GRAMMY Awards. Saadiq next made a foray into producing, collaborating with GRAMMY-winning artists such as D'Angelo, Macy Gray, the Roots, and TLC, and in 1999 he formed R&B supergroup Lucy Pearl with Dawn Robinson (En Vogue) and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest).
Saadiq's debut solo album, Instant Vintage, was released in 2002 and garnered three GRAMMY nominations. That same year, Saadiq won his first career GRAMMY for Best R&B Song for "Love Of My Life (An Ode To Hip-Hop)," a song he co-wrote with Erykah Badu and Common, among others, featured on the soundtrack for the film Brown Sugar. Saadiq landed three more GRAMMY nominations in 2008, including Best R&B Album for The Way I See It. Released in 2011, Stone Rollin' peaked at No. 14 and featured "Good Man," which earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
Saadiq is currently producing music for Black Nativity, a film set for release in November starring Mary J. Blige, Tyrese Gibson and Jennifer Hudson, among others.