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ralph macdonald

Ralph MacDonald

b. Ralph Anthony MacDonald, 15th March 1944, Harlem, New York City, New York State, U.S.A.

d. 18th December 2011, Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Ralph MacDonald's parents originated from Trinidad.

Ralph was born in Harlem in 1944, the eighth of Patrick and Evelyn MacDonald’s eight children.

His father was a calypso star known professionally as Macbeth the Great.

As a child, Ralph played congas in his father's band around Brooklyn and Queens.

He also took up steel drums, later to join Harry Belafonte's band playing these and later congas.

He wrote, arranged and conducted Harry Belafonte's 'Calypso Carnival' album on RCA before leaving to take up residence with Roberta Flack.

He worked with Roberta for five years, during which time he wrote 'Where Is The Love' (with Bill Salter), a hit duet for Roberta with Donny Hathaway.

'Where Is The Love' has since been recorded over 150 times in 19 different languages.

He also played percussion on 'Killing Me Softly' and co-wrote / produced numerous other songs.

Sound Of A DrumThe PathCounterpointUniversal Rhythm

sound of a drum - 1976 / the path - 1978 / counterpoint - 1979 / universal rhythm - 1984

Launching a solo career in 1976 he played to a starstudded audience at New York's Lincoln Center before recording his first solo album 'Sound Of A Drum' (including two hit singles 'Calypso Breakdown', used on the 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack, and 'Jam On The Groove') for the Marlin label (via TK).

Ralph MacDonald

In 1977 he released a further Marlin album, 'The Path' featuring Grover Washington, Bob James, Eric Gale and Richard Tee, following which he made his vocal debut on 'Discolypso', a single from his third album 'Counterpoint' (1978).

From here Ralph concentrated on songwriting and production, his productions including two Epic albums for Bobbi Humphrey, 'Part Of You' for Eric Gale (1979), 'Song For Jeremy' for Spaces (1981),'Goodbye Sadness' for Yoko Ono and various tracks for Sadao Watanabe and others.

He also wrote 'Trade Winds', a hit song for both Rod Stewart and Lou Rawls.

Surprize!Port PleasureTrippin'Home Grown

surprize! - 1985 / port pleasure - 1998 / trippin' - 2000 / home grown - 2004

In 1984, he signed to Polydor as a solo artist, his albums being 'Universal Rhythm' (released in the U.K. on London Records) and 'Surprise', (1985), including 'You Need More Calypso', a vocal track featuring Dennis Collins.

Through The Eyes Of Eagle

through the eyes of eagle - 2011

He has also recorded with Donny Hathaway ('Love Love Love'), Grover Washington, Ashford & Simpson, AI Jarreau, Pieces Of A Dream, Neil Larsen ('Sudden Samba'), General Johnson ('Don't Walk Away'), Aretha Franklin, Margie Joseph amongst others.

Following a long illness, Ralph passed away in December 2011. He was 67.

He had previously suffered from a stroke and a battle with lung cancer.

Ralph MacDonald

ralph with his grandmother in 1977

Real Player


Sound of a Drum (Marlin Records 1976)

The Path (Marlin Records 1978)

Counterpoint (TK Records 1979)

Universal Rhythm (Polydor Records 1984)

Surprise (Polydor Records 1985)

Port Pleasure (Import Records 1998)

Trippin' (Video Arts Records 2000)

Home Grown (Video Arts Records 2004)

Through The Eyes Of Eagle (Circle Hawk Music 2011)

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