Jesse Powell was extremely gifted as a singer who had times in his too short career where he really broke breaking through. Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, Powell spent his childhood and teen years singing in his local church with his musical family (his sisters Tamara and Trina later recorded for Sony Records). He then met writer/producer Carl Roland and they formed a musical partnership that led them to California looking for a record contract. Powell was spotted at an L.A. artist showcase in 1994 by record executive Louis Silas (of New Edition fame), who signed him to his Silas label under a distribution deal with MCA.
Powell released his eponymous debut in 1996, which featured a minor R&B hit with "All I Need" and a wonderful cover of the Enchantment ballads "Gloria" and "It's You That I Need. Powell boasted a crystal clear, strong tenor voice, and it was evidence that he could develop into a world class talent.
Powell reached his biggest fame two years later with 'Bout It and his first and only top 5 hit, the lush ballad, "You" (which had also appeared on his debut disc). Even better was the album cut "You Should Know," an acoustic Babyface-like track on which Powell absolutely shined. While the album’s material was somewhat uneven, Powell was clearly a star in the making.
Powell put it all together in 2001 for JP, his best album and the one boasting a most consistent style: a solid Urban Adult Contemporary slant. He again showed himself to be a developing song interpreter, as his haunting cover of Al Hudson's "Something In the Past" became a career moment.
Sadly, Silas died after the release of JP and MCA merged into oblivion, leaving Powell to find a new label and collaborator. In 2003, he signed with Riviera/Liquid 8 and in the Fall released Jesse, a lesser album which unfortunately came and went quickly, and effectively spelled the end of Powell's recording career.
Jesse Powell retired from recording new music after JP and began working more extensively in video. Working with sisters Trina and Tamera, he formed a television production company, where he continued until his untimely death in September 2022.
By Chris Rizik
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