Billy Paul was born on 1st December 1934 in the Philadephia city of Pennsylvania. He is a renowned singer. He has sung songs of the genres soul, R&B, and jazz. At a very young age, he developed a passion for music. His mother had a huge collection of music. He used to hear the numbers of singers like Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Johnny Mathis, etc. and tried to emulate them. He especially had a thing for jazz songs by female vocalists. His music career took wings when he was only 11. He started singing on WPEN, a local radio station.
To learn music, he went to West Philadelphia Music School and Granoff School of Music. Gradually, he started performing in college events and clubs. These performances helped him to perform with the likes of Dinah Washington, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Sammy Davis at concerts. He started his career as a playback singer in 1952 when he recorded his first song for Jubilee Records in New York City. The songs “Why Am I” and “That’s Why I Dream” came out. Why Am I got a good response and the very same year, he released his second single You Didn’t Know. It was again a hit.
Paul’s music career took a sabbatical for a while when he joined the Army in 1957 after the World War 2. While in Army, he also tried his hand at boxing. After his service in the army, he resumed his music career and formed a band with Buster Williams and Sam Dockery. His initial few singles didn’t manage to garner much audience support. He released Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club, his debut album in 1968. The album bombed. It was again released in 1973. His second album Ebony Woman, released in 1970, did better. These two albums have been published under the record label, Neptune.
Paul’s third album, Going East (1971), was with Philadephia International Records, which was set up after shutting down Neptune Labels. The album reached #42 on the Billboard soul chart. There was no looking back for Paul after this album. His album Me and Mrs. Jones sold over two million copies. He also won a Grammy for the same. His song topped all the major charts. However, he got a major setback, when he released his next single “Am I Black Enough for You?”. It couldn’t manage to create the same magic that Mrs. Jones had created. He forayed into psychedelic soul music with his album, War of the Gods. Billy’s first live album was Live in Europe. It was shot when he went for his European tour with the Intruders and the O’Jays in1973.
He retired from music in 1989 in London. He did continue doing live shows after his retirement. Paul was married to Blanche Williams, who was also his manager. He passed away on 24th April 2016 in New Jersey, USA.