J.D. Steele exploded onto the Minnesota music scene in the mid-1980s along with Prince, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Soul Asylum and the Steeles, putting Minnesota on the national music map forever.
Steele began his career singing and arranging jingles for local and national spots including Kodak, Target and other national brands. He developed his abilities as a vocal arranger as a young teen while directing a 100-voice choir at age 16. At Purdue University, where he majored in marketing, he organized and directed the African American Cultural Center ensemble and began writing and arranging his original compositions.
Since arriving on the Minnesota music scene, Mr. Steele and his dynamic vocal siblings, The Steeles, have garnered every major music award and accolade the state has had to offer. Steele and the family began touring the international hit show “The Gospel at Colonus” with Morgan Freeman before finally landing on Broadway in 1988 for a successful nine-month run. After that, the Steeles signed their first record deal with Elektra Records and released “Heaven Help Us All” in 1993. Steele produced and co-wrote 12 of the 14 songs released on that record. Since then, he has produced, performed and recorded six additional Steeles albums and has gone on to write, produce, perform and record with Prince, Donald Fagen, George Clinton, Mavis Staples, Kim Carnes, Fine Young Cannibals, the Sounds of Blackness and many other artists. He has performed on stages all over America, in Spain, Italy, London, Moscow, South America and many other cities and countries.
Steele has been commissioned to write 10 original musicals and collaborated on a sixth. Steele was also commissioned by the Center for Cultural Exchange in Portland, Maine, to create Africa America/Children of the Dance, which premiered in 2001 to sold-out audiences throughout New England. He was also commissioned by the same organization in 2000 to co-create along with world-renowned jazz bassist Christian McBride The Movement Revisited, which also enjoyed a highly successful East Coast run.
Steele has been honored with a 2003 Bush Artists Composer Fellowship. He has also taught and developed music workshop curricula across the country with K-12 students, as well as university music programs, including students for Berklee School of Music in Boston and San Francisco.
His publishing company and music catalog is administered by Rondor/Universal music in Los Angeles. The catalog, Just Divine Music, is registered with ASCAP. Steele is also a member of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity. His many credits also include a cameo in the Prince-produced movie “Graffiti Bridge,” and songwriting and arranging credits for the movies “Corrina, Corrina (Whoopi Goldberg), “Blankman” (Damon Wayans) and the award-winning documentary “Hoop Dreams.” He was also nominated for an Emmy for the PBS version of “The Gospel at Colonus.”
Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.