On July 9, 2019, ahead of the release of his highly anticipated album, Jimmy Lee, the GRAMMY Museum welcomed Raphael Saadiq for an intimate conversation.
Raphael Saadiq is a GRAMMY Award winning musician, songwriter and go-to collaborator/producer for some of the biggest names in R&B. Solange Knowles, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, D’Angelo, NE-YO and Miguel are among the many artists who turn to Saadiq for his deep musicality, contemporary creative vision, and encyclopedic knowledge of timeless pop music. Saadiq’s career began at a young age after auditioning and landing a spot as a bass player in Sheila E’s band, which supported Prince on his 1986 Parade world tour.
Saadiq later formed the group Tony! Toni! Toné! with his brother D’Wayne Wiggins and cousin Timothy Riley. The trio enjoyed considerable success on radio and MTV in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, racking up several hits including, “If I Had No Loot,” “Feels Good,” “Anniversary,” and the iconic “It Never Rains (In Southern California).”
Following four albums with Tony! Toni! Toné!, Saadiq formed the urban super group Lucy Pearl in 1999 along with Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest and Dawn Robinson from En Vogue, yielding Dance Tonight. His solo career kicked off with 2002’s Instant Vintage and 2004’s Ray Ray. Critics began taking special notice with the release of his 2008 homage to Motown and Philly soul, The Way I See It, and its follow-up, Stone Rollin’ (2011), which landed on many year-end Top Ten best albums lists.
As a producer, Saadiq has worked with a wide range of artists, including Snoop Dogg, Little Dragon, Erykah Badu and Stevie Wonder. He remains a true musician’s musician, with Justin Timberlake, Elton John, Mick Jagger and Lady Gaga among the many superstars who tapped him to play bass or guitar on high-profile projects, including Gaga’s memorable David Bowie tribute at the 2016 GRAMMY Awards. He co-wrote career-defining hits for D’Angelo (“Untitled (How Does It Feel)”) and Solange (“Cranes in the Sky”), and his compositions have been covered, sampled, or referenced by everyone from Ed Sheeran to Drake.
In 2012, Saadiq was named to Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list, and in 2017, he received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Original Song for “Mighty River” from the film Mudbound, which he co-wrote with Mary J. Blige. On television, Saadiq is the composer in residence for Isa Rae’s hit HBO show Insecure. His solo album, Jimmy Lee, was released in August 2019.