If you are familiar with The Isley Brothers, then you know Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Chris Jasper. Chris Jasper was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 30, 1951, the youngest of seven siblings. The three older Isley brothers, Rudolph, O’Kelly and Ronald, formed a vocal trio “The Isley Brothers” and relocated to Teaneck, New Jersey. While temporarily living in New Jersey as a teenager, Chris and the two younger Isley brothers, Marvin and Ernie, formed a band, “The Jazzmen Trio,” that played locally in New Jersey. Chris played keyboards, Ernie played guitar and Marvin played the bass. Along with Chris, Ernie and Marvin also attended C.W. Post College in New York. While in college, Chris, Marvin and Ernie played on the older Isley Brothers recordings, including “It’s Your Thing”.
While growing up in Cincinnati, Chris studied classical piano starting at the age of 7 years old. After graduating from high school in Cincinnati, he moved to New York to study music composition at the Juilliard School of Music. Chris received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music composition from C.W. Post College in New York, where he studied under noted jazz pianist and composer, Dr. Billy Taylor. He subsequently received a Juris Doctorate degree from Concord University School of Law.
Chris was an integral member of The Isley Brothers during the 1970s and 1980s—their gold and platinum years—from the 3+3 (1973) to Between the Sheets (1983) albums. These were the years when The Isley Brothers were a self-produced, self-contained group.
Chris was primarily responsible for writing, arranging and producing all of The Isley Brothers music during this time, including such beautiful love songs as “For The Love of You” and “Between the Sheets” and uptempo funk such as “Fight the Power.” His arrangements and instrumentation as a classically-trained musician, and his expertise on the keyboards and synthesizers, are the foundation of the legendary “Isley Brothers Sound.” When the six members of The Isley Brothers disbanded (1984), Marvin and Ernie Isley joined Chris Jasper and formed Isley-Jasper-Isley. Without this crucial musical component, The Isley Brothers were no longer a self-produced, self-contained group.
The Jasper and Isley families lived in the same apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio. Chris’s older sister, Elaine, married Rudolph Isley. In 1984, Chris, Marvin and Ernie formed Isley-Jasper-Isley, a self-produced, self-contained trio, with Chris as the lead singer of the group, as well as the primary songwriter, producer and arranger. Isley-Jasper-Isley recorded 3 albums on their CBS-associated label, and earned recognition with their #1 hit, “Caravan of Love.” “Caravan” was covered by English recording group, the Housemartins, who made the song an international #1 hit. “Caravan” was also used in commercials as part of a Dodge Caravan advertising campaign. He was also awarded a CEBA Award for Excellence for a Miller Brewing Company commercial. The music for that commercial formed the basis for “Brother to Brother” from the Different Drummer album, which supported the anti-apartheid struggle going on in South Africa at that time. His music has also been used in radio and television commercials, including “Who’s That Lady” (Swiffer) and “Between The Sheets” (L’Oreal).
In 1987, Isley-Jasper-Isley disbanded and Chris and Ernie embarked on solo careers. Chris formed his own record label, Gold City Records, and released two albums as a CBS-associated label. His debut single as a solo artist, “Superbad” reached #1 on the R&B charts.
Eventually, Marvin and Ernie returned to record under the Isley Brothers group name, and Chris continued his solo career, releasing a total of 11 solo albums to date, including 4 urban contemporary gospel CDs.
Chris has received numerous gold and platinum albums and music industry awards, including the BET lifetime achievement award. In 1992, Chris Jasper, along with the other members of The Isley Brothers, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in 2014, received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.
Chris Jasper’s music has been covered and sampled by hundreds of new and established recording artists, including Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Fantasia, Will Smith, Aliyah, Queen Latifah, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Natalie Cole, Jaheim, Kendrick Lamar, and the list goes on and on. His music has also been used in many movie and television soundtracks.
Chris Jasper has continued to write songs and produce his own R&B and Gospel music, as well as other artists, for his independent record label, Gold City Records. He has worked with such notable artists as Chaka Khan, writing and producing a song for her CK album (“Make It Last”). Chris’s music has been covered and sampled by numerous new and established recording artists, including Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Fantasia, Will Smith, Alliyah, Queen Latifah, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Natalie Cole, Jaheim, Kendrick Lamar, and the list goes on and on.
The most recent addition to Gold City is Chris’s 21-year old son, Michael Jasper, who released his debut album “Addictive” on the Gold City label at the age of 16 in 2010. “Addictive” was written and recorded by Michael, and co-produced by Chris, who accompanies Michael on the talkbox and background vocals. “Farewell” is one of the tracks from that CD. Michael’s new CD “Dreams” will be released later in 2015.
Chris has a new album The One. You can follow Chris on Facebook and Twitter. Log onto his website and listen to or purchase his new music. Tune in to his YouTube channel as well for music videos and exclusive video footage.