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Many credit R&B singer Maxwell as one of the progenitors of the neo-soul movement. Born Gerald Maxwell Rivera in 1973 to a Haitian father and Puerto Rican mother, Maxwell grew up in Brooklyn. Having lost his father in a plane crash at the age of three, he was a quiet child, often accompanying his mother to church. It was during congregational hymns that friends and family began to take note of his strong and compelling voice. By his teens, Maxwell was writing his own songs and playing on the nightclub circuit in New York City. He landed a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1994 and after meticulous writing and production-in addition to a year-long wait during a reorganization at the label-Urban Hang Suite was finally released in 1996 to massive acclaim. The record was so impactful that MTV invited the young artist to perform an "MTV Unplugged" (MTV, 1989-) concert, even though he had only released one album. He released his second record, the experimental Embrya in 1998, followed by Now in 2001. At this point, Maxwell took a seven year hiatus from performing, returning to much fanfare in 2009 with the Grammy award winning BLACKsummers'night. Despite having to undergo throat surgery for vocal hemorrhaging that same year, Maxwell returned in 2016 with the much anticipated follow up blackSUMMERS'night. The record met the high expectations preceding it, and was a hit with critics and audiences alike.
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