Born 1972 in Los Angeles, CA; son of Elijah Jordan and Delois Allen. Education: BA, organizational communications, Pepperdine University. Addresses: Record company Polygram Records, Inc., 825 8th Ave. Fl C2b, New York, NY 10019.
Montell Jordan soared to stardom with the release of his first recording, "This Is How We Do It," a solid gold hit that topped the rhythm & blues charts for weeks. The cynics watched and waited for Jordan's popularity to wane as quickly as it appeared, but with each successive release new facets of his talent unfolded. A brief three years later there were few who could refute that Jordan was a solid and durable performer who would undoubtedly remain on the popular music scene for years to come. He released four gold-selling songs in succession. His first album was certified gold, and his second album featured three gold single releases. When Jordan's third album, Let's Ride, went platinum, the message was evident that Jordan was more than a one-hit performer. A capable songwriter and producer, he contributed his talents to the productions of other musicians who experienced similar success.
Born in 1972, Jordan was the oldest child of Delois Allen and Elijah Jordan. The family lived a lower middle class existence in South Central Los Angeles. With four children, financial survival was a day-to-day ritual, and both of Jordan's parents worked to make ends meet. His father was an accountant, and his mother was a business administrator.
Jordan was in grade school when his grandfather gave him a saxophone. The oddly shaped instrument captured Jordan's attention and sparked a keen interest for music in the boy. In time Jordan expanded his musical interests, learning to play the piano at age 10, and to sing by age 11. He joined the choir of his Baptist church congregation along with a close friend, and in time both were well-respected members of the group.
As Jordan matured he reached the imposing physical height of six-foot-eight-inches tall. He told Margena Christian in Ebony Man that he missed the obvious detour into an athletic career mainly because of financial limitations that kept him otherwise occupied as a teenager in private schools. In grade school and at an all-boy's high school, Jordan worked in the school cafeteria while his friends were playing ball and practicing their skills at recess. Jordan in turn pursued other interests, at home in his free time.
He nurtured his musical skills outside of school, even after he moved on to college. He attended Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, which proved to be an exceptional financial drain on both Jordan and his family. He determinedly worked at assorted jobs and completed a sensible curriculum in organizational communications, all the while relegating his love of music to the priority of a spare time hobby. After graduation in 1991, he considered enrolling in law school, but opted instead to work for an advertising agency.
Eventually the agency downsized and Jordan lost his job. He turned the misfortune into opportunity as it left him ample time to pursue his musical ambitions. He sold his car for the money to buy a keyboard and used the instrument to make a demonstration tape. He spent some time singing in a local nightclub until late in 1993, when he began negotiations with Def Jam records. This is How We Do It, his first album, went into production in January of 1994. He was still in his mid-twenties when his first single, "This Is How We Do It," hit the big time. The song not only earned a gold record for Jordan, but it hovered at first place on the charts for seven weeks. The album of the same name reached number 4 on the R&B charts.
In the spring of 1995 Jordan toured with Boyz II Men and TLC. In 1997 his second album More was released on Rush Associated Labels. That album hit number two on the R&B charts and featured three gold singles: "I Like," "Falling," and "What's on Tonight." "I Like," was also featured on the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy film, The Nutty Professor. He produced his third album,Let's Ride, in collaboration with rapper Master P's production company, Beats by the Pound. Let's Ride features a variety of musical styles from gospel to funk. Jordan embraces hip-hop styles, clearly distinguished by his talent for romanticizing ghetto themes with a positive and upbeat sentiment.
Known as more than a performer, Jordan wrote much of his own material and has written hit songs for others, as well. His "Nobody's Supposed to be Here," was a major hit for rhythm and blues diva Deborah Cox. The song hit number one of the R&B charts and surfaced as a crossover hit in the on the pop charts. Jordan also produced albums for other groups on his M3 label
Jordan's escalating popularity as a fresh new face in the music industry made him a popular fixture at awards shows, as a presenter, nominee, and award winner. Billboard nominated Jordan for the BillboardMusic Video Award as best new artist in 1995, and then invited him to be a presenter at the 1995 BillboardMusic Awards.
In 1997, Jordan appeared at the Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People 28th Image Awards, and he was a presenter at the 8th Annual Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards, at the NY Hilton. He was a presenter at the 1998 Billboard Music Video Awards and, a few weeks later, performed at the "Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards" in honor of Chaka Khan.
Jordan was as a delegate to Alan Roy Scott's 1997 Music Bridge song-writing sessions and conferences in Clifden, Ireland. Music Bridge holds sessions worldwide, and Jordan collaborated on songs and performed at the 1999 Music Bridge sessions in Havana, Cuba, as well.
by Gloria Cooksey
Montell Jordan's Career
Signed with Def Jam records, 1993; four gold singles and one gold album including: "This Is How We Do It," 1995; "Falling," 1996; "I Like," 1997; and "What's on Tonight," 1997.
Montell Jordan's Awards
R&B Soul Award, ASCAP, 1998.
- Selected discography
- This is How We Do It , 1995.
- More (includes "Falling," "I Like," and "What's on Tonight"), Rush Associated Labels, 1996.
- Let's Ride , Def Jam, 1998.
- Billboard, February 22, 1997; February 21, 1998; June 27, 1998; September 12, 1998; December 26, 1998.
- Ebony Man, May 1997.
- Entertainment, June 2, 1995.
- Essence, November 1998.
- Los Angeles Times, Record Edition, March 29, 1999.
- New York Amsterdam News, July 16, 1998.
- People, June 19, 1995.
- "Montell Jordan," http://www.defjam.com/artists/montell/montell.html (May 9, 1999).