James Ingram, the two-time Grammy award-winning singer, died on January 29 at the age of 66. His tragic passing was announced by his long-time collaborator Debbie Allen. He is survived by wife, Debra Robinson. Debbie Allen wrote on Twitter, “I have lost my dearest friend and creative partner James Ingram to the Celestial Choir. He will always be cherished, loved and remembered for his genius, his love of family and his humanity. I am blessed to have been so close. We will forever speak his name.❤️.”
TMZ reports that Ingram’s cause of death was a form of brain cancer.
Ingram married his wife, Debra Robinson, in 1975. On Ingram’s IMDb page, Robinson is referred to as his “childhood sweetheart.” It was Robinson who answered the phone when Quincy Jones called to give her husband his big break, she said in a 2009 interview. Robinson said, “Quincy called the house one day. and said ‘This is Quincy Jones. May I speak to James Ingram?’ And Q asked him, ‘Is this the guy who did the demo for ‘Just Once’? I want you to come in and sing.’ Well, James’ response was, ‘You mean play keyboard. I’m not a singer.'” Robinson said that Ingram thought it was a joke and hung up but “luckily for all of us – Q called back.” Ingram later told the Chicago Tribune that his wife had been adamant that it was, in fact, Quincy Jones on the other end of the phone.
Ingram was a native of Akron, Ohio. His wife was by his side when Ingram performed in Kenya in September 2012. The couple has six children together. During a 2010 interview, Ingram revealed that the romance had not gone out of their marriage saying, “I sing to her on a daily basis. Whatever’s on the radio.” The article said that Ingram went on to sing, “What’s it all about, Debbie?” to the tune of the “Alfie” theme song.