James Samuel “Jimmy Jam” Harris III (born June 6, 1959) and Terry Steven Lewis (born November 24, 1956) are an American R&B songwriting and record production team. They have enjoyed great success since the 1980s with various artists, most notably Janet Jackson. They have written 31 top ten hits in the UK and 41 in the US.
Jimmy Jam is the son of Cornbread Harris, a Minneapolis blues and jazz musician. Jimmy Jam met Lewis while in high school in Minneapolis. They did not meet in class, however, but while attending a TRIO Upward Bound program on the University of Minnesota campus. They formed a band called Flyte Tyme, which evolved into The Time.In 1981, they were joined by Morris Day and toured with Prince as his opening act. As members of The Time, they played instruments on all but one of the group’s five albums (Ice Cream Castle), including Condensate which the group recorded as The Original 7ven.
In 1982, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were introduced to the music executive Dina R. Andrews, who was then an employee of Dick Griffey‘s SOLAR Records, where they would be mentored by record producer Leon Sylvers III.The pair asked Andrews to manage them, and through her relationships Andrews first introduced Jam and Lewis to Music Executive Clarence Avant. They produced their first masters for Avant for the SOS Band. Andrews set-up Jam and Lewis’s company Flyte Tyme Productions as a business entity, and continued shopping them to her other record executive colleagues. The producers went on to produce several other masters for Avant under Dina Andrews Management for the SOS Band, Cherrelle, Alexander O’Neal and Change. Additionally, Andrews shopped the duo to many of the executives and artists who used their services, such as Klymaxx, Cheryl Lynn (“Encore”), and executives such as John McClain (Janet Jackson), Clive Davis, Sylvia Rhone, and Warner Chappelle (Rachele Fields). Other 1980s hits included Tender Love for Force MD and the 1988 hit Can You Stand The Rain for New Edition in their best selling album to date.
The pair were fired by Prince from a tour after a blizzard left them unable to rejoin during a short break to produce music for The SOS Band.However, one of the tracks they were producing, “Just Be Good to Me“, became a hit and sealed the duo’s reputation, as well as that of the SOS Band. The duo would rejoin The Time for two albums: 1990’s Pandemonium and the 2011 album Condensate under the name the Original 7ven.
The duo was noted for early use of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, which was used in most of its productions. After working with other artists such as Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neal, Jam and Lewis were introduced to Janet Jackson and produced her breakthrough album Control in 1986,for which the duo won a Grammy Award. Their collaboration on her next album, 1989’s Rhythm Nation 1814, proved even more successful as the album became one of the top-selling albums in history with four Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits. Their collaboration continued and remained highly successful, especially on the Billboard 200 No.1 albums janet., The Velvet Rope, All For You and Unbreakable.
In 1991, they founded a record label, Perspective Records – an A&M Records distributed label that has since been closed and then reactivated. Later that year, their newly minted label experienced success with a Minneapolis-based gospel/R&B collective of artists known as Sounds of Blackness. Their debut single, “Optimistic” served as a groundbreaking anthem stressing positivity and encouragement. The song served as a summer and fall anthem and began propelling Jam and Lewis’ new boutique label towards the top. Other successes followed with Blackness as well as music from labelmates Mint Condition, Lo-Key? and Solo. A highlight for Perspective was the opportunity to release the soundtrack for the 1992 motion picture Mo Money, which starred Damon Wayans, Stacey Dash and Marlon Wayans. Executive produced by Jam and Lewis, the soundtrack featured cuts from Mint Condition, Ralph Tresvant and Caron Wheeler, as well as a duet by Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross.
In an illustrious career that has spanned more than three decades, Jam and Lewis have worked with artists such as Herb Alpert, TLC, Sounds of Blackness, Yolanda Adams, Jordan Knight, Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men, Usher, Johnny Gill, Patti LaBelle, Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, Prince, Mýa, Bryan Adams, Spice Girls, Vanessa Williams, George Michael, Melanie B, Rod Stewart, Kelly Price, Gwen Stefani, New Edition, Eric Benet, Pia Zadora, SOLO, and The Human League. In 1999, they produced the hit “Open My Heart” by Yolanda Adams which helped her popularity.
Terry Lewis married R&B singer Karyn White, with whom he had a daughter, Ashley Nicole Lewis. The pair has since divorced. He later married Indira Singh and had two children, Talin and Tierra. Jimmy Jam served as chairman of the board of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He is currently listed as chairman Emeritus.
In 2005 Jam and Lewis opened their new recording studios in Santa Monica, California naming it Flyte Tyme West. In 2006, they won a Grammy for Yolanda Adams’ song “Be Blessed”, from her 2005 album Day By Day. In 2007, Jam and Lewis produced the two-time Grammy Award-winning CD Funk This for Chaka Khan, which included the Award-winning R&B duet “Disrespectful”, with Mary J. Blige.
The production duo reunited with The Time at The 50th Grammy Awards on February 10, 2008 in a medley that included the artist Rihanna, and featuring “Jungle Love“. In June and July 2008, all of the original members of The Time (Morris Day, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jesse Johnson, Jerome Benton, Jellybean Johnson, and Monte Moir) reunited once again for a series of shows at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Jam and Lewis worked on Ruben Studdard‘s album, Love Is as well as Johnny Gill‘s 2011 album Still Winning. Their most recent hits as producers were “Pure Gold” from Earth, Wind & Fire‘s 2005 album Illumination and “Higher Than This” from Ledisi‘s 2009 album Turn Me Loose.
Reference :Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis