Tony Ransom BIOGRAPHY
Make Room For Love
Is he a house/club vocal powerhouse, a crooner with a total showman’s style, a background singer whose presence is insisted upon by the greats, a lead Chicago jingle singer, or a songwriter? Answer yes to all, and now add in the best part… one of the most gifted R&B vocal artists around as proven on his new CD release “Make Room For Love”.
This New York native followed his family roots down through Mississippi, but eventually moved his way up to Chicago, where he established a lucrative singing career. In the late 80’s and 90’s, Tony became a proverbial juggling act, where balancing the demands as a major vocal talent in the Chicago recording studio community was not a challenge, but a full time job.
As a background singer, Tony can be heard on hit albums of Richard Marx, Michael Bolton, Pete Cetera, R. Kelly, James Brown, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Dennis De Young, and BB & CC Winans, to name just a few. Soundtrack work like “My Best Friends Wedding,” starring Julia Roberts, is where he can be heard wailing above a chorus on high during the closing credits. When not working on album projects, he can be heard on more than 500 national radio and television ad campaigns that include: Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Pizza-Hut, 7-UP, and General Motors.
More recently, Tony was the featured vocalist on the dance single “Heaven” by the group Shinehouse, produced by famed Chicago DJ Mark Picchiotti on the Ministry of Sound label. The song “Heaven” was also featured on the Ministry of Sound compilation album, Sessions 5, remixed by Famed dance producers, Masters at Work.
Tony Ransom’s introduction to audiences outside of the United States started in 1990. Various 12” releases in the U.K., including the 1991 Atlantic Record’s released dance single, “Spread Love” (also featured on Underground Dance Music Vol. I) as well as several singles in the later 90’s, “In The name Of Love” and “Sanctified Lady/Music” received some attention, and are still in demand. “I’ve released about eight or nine 12” singles over the past 10 years”, says Ransom.
It was during this active period in Ransom’s career, that opportunities knocked. Some knocked harder than others, and some just walked in and laid down. Such was the case when Tony was produced by Laney Stewart (Candle Light & You by Keith Washington and Chantey Moore, “I Miss You” for Aaron Hall) brought to, and heavily courted by Irving Azoff’s Giant Records, and then label head, Casandra Mills. Ransom recalls, “papers and contracts flew with a flurry for nearly a year, while attorney’s talked points and marketing approaches…until everyone realized the fact that we had absolutely no music in the can. By that point, everyone (including myself) was onto new business”. During this period of chasing down “the deal” Tony never strayed far from Chicago, as demand for his voice was still in tact.
In 1994, Tony and his longtime friend Bobby Francavillo released a cover single of The Moment’s urban hit,“Sexy Mama”. Their first promotional item for Sexy Mama was a reasonably low-cost video of the song. What they didn’t expect was for the video quickly being added to BET’s Top 10 Video Countdown. This was done with very little airplay, and no distribution deal. Francavillo elaborates, “ neither of us were ready to capitalize on such great exposure. This was literally my first release on imi Records. Then, one morning I get a call from a president of a major who wants to make a deal immediately, but only if we let them pull back the video play (sighting the need to cut a full album and re-release). I agreed, the video was pulled back, but they never went through with offering the deal”. The single never got back on BET or radio.
“That was a hard lesson, but we were committed to doing the album anyways, laments Francavillo. “The album, originally entitled “Crazy” took about a year and a half to complete. It featured some of the best engineers and studio talents we could afford. Mix engineers included Peter Mokran (R. Kelly), Tony Masseratti (Puffy), Ross Fossenkemper and Steve Peck. Through Tony’s introduction of David Josias (“Mindblowing” on imi/Atlantic and “Ghetto Love”) to me, David became a main writer and co-producer on this album”. Due to the negative experience with the major and Sexy Mama, and the raising costs of independent promotion at that time, it was decided best to forgo an independent release and shop a major. “I shopped it everywhere for six months, and received great response, but the majors were insistent that I release it in Chicago first, and then be ready to sign it over”. Francavillo goes on to say, “Unfortunately, once again the climate of rejection put a damper on us when we couldn’t get either of the R&B station formats to give us so much as a test spin. Rumors flew, mainly because one listen to this album would tell anyone that this is no cheap local release. But hey, these records don’t just play themselves, and the majors depend on local radio to tell the story. We just didn’t have the necessary support at radio. So the record has sat dormant”
Always the survivor, Tony always had his studio career, live performances, and outside U.S. releases, to showcase his talents. Ransom elaborates: “The fact that I have been able to make a great living singing has allowed me to sing happier; but at some point you have to listen to your inner voice, and mine (as well as my fans) is telling me to go back and release the album that was a passion, not a job”.
Most agree, Tony Ransom is happiest when he’s singing and performing. “It doesn’t matter what the job calls for, he is driven by singing, no matter if the subject matter is about a car or the love of his life. Most singers are identified by what they sing”, says Bobby Francavillo, “T is driven by the melody and rhythm. That’s what makes his heart beat…the lyrics are no less important, but when you are born with an instrument (voice) like his, you can sing the phonebook and move people”.
So now the time has come for fans, as well as new audiences to finally discover the album that deserves to be heard. “Make Room For Love” shows the immense range and dimension of Tony Ransom’s talents. Those who know him well, as well as those who think they know him, be assured: Tony Ransom knows exactly who he is and is ready for you to listen.