Michael Eugene Archer taught himself how to play piano as a child. He would later be known to us all as D’Angelo. Born in Richmond, Virginia on February 11, 1974, the son of a Pentecostal preacher, D’Angelo is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer.
At the age of 18, D’Angelo’s group, “Michael Archer and Precise” won the amateur competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and based on that success, D’Angelo quit school and moved to New York to build his career. The buzz on the streets got him signed to a recording contract in 1993 and he got his first real success as co-writer/producer of a song for the supergroup Black Men United which featured Brian McKnight, Usher, R. Kelly, Boyz II Men, Raphael Saadiq and Gerald Levert. That song, “U Will Know” was featured on the soundtrack to Jason’s Lyric. And D’Angelo’s buzz grew even bigger. His album Brown Sugar was released in the summer of 1995 and spawned the hits “Brown Sugar,” “Lady,” and “Crusin’.”
And then, he got writers block. He was still making music, including collaborations with Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, but he didn’t release another full body of work until 2000 with his follow up album Voodoo, which won him the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album in 2001.
And then, D’Angelo disappeared from the scene. He was uncomfortable with his new sex-symbol status, fueled by the “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video. He also lost a friend to suicide. All of his issues led him to develop a problems with drinking and drugs. It took nearly twelve years for D’Angelo to even take the stage again, but did so at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and again for Jay-Z’s Made In America Festival in 2012.
And then, D’Angelo finally released his third studio album, Black Messiah in 2014 which was met with universal critical-acclaim. It’s clear that D’Angelo is on nobody else’s timetable other than his own, but as the adage states, all good things come to those who wait. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait to much longer.