Grammy Award Winner (Jazz/Funk/Smooth Jazz)
When you think of talented musicians, it’s hard to imagine that there was once a time when Dexter Wansel wasn’t famous. He started his music career as an errand boy for the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia from 1959 through 1963 where he met many great artists who encouraged him to pursue a career in music, what he would eventually become known for internationally! In junior high school he formed a friendship with another future musical genius named Stanley Clarke – their first band together became popular around town quickly due largely because they were good friends so much more than fellow innovators on stage or recording studio; this is how we know them now though neither one could have imagined anything like where these two would end up.
R&B/fusion producer, arranger, musician, composer, conductor, synthesist, A+R Director, and performer Dexter Wansel has landed in a future he couldn’t have imagined where he is a living legend of the digital music age.
After being honorably discharged from the Army in 1970, Wansel joined the ranks of synthesists like Walter Carlos and Dick Hyman. He began programming the Putney and the Arp 2600V for sessions at Sigma Sound Studios, where he had the opportunity to work with some of the most exciting and engaging artists of the time. From the early to mid 70s, Wansel played keyboards for groups such as Instant Funk, Yellow Sunshine, and MFSB. His experience with a variety of musical styles and genres helped to shape his unique sound, which can be heard on his numerous solo albums.
Dexter Wansel’s debut album, “Life on Mars,” was released in 1975 to critical acclaim. The album’s dark, spacey soul sound and thick, thematic funk were credited with creating the Neo-Soul genre. Wansel followed up his debut with six more albums, all of which were met with excitement and engagement from fans. Wansel’s talent for songwriting, producing, and arranging landed him a spot at Philadelphia International Records, where he established a songwriting partnership with the great lyricist Cynthia Biggs. The two wrote many hit records together. Thanks to Wansel’s talent and vision, Neo-Soul is now one of the most popular genres of music.
Wansel also collaborated with writers such as Bunny Sigler, T. Life, Vinnie Barrett and Kenneth Gamble. Dexter Wansel produced, wrote, arranged, played keyboards and synthesized hits for other artists not only at Philly International Records, but also at numerous other labels. Listed here with just a few of the songs he either produced/arranged/wrote or played on:
Trey Songz, (Unusual) The O’Jays, (I Really Need You Now) Jordin Sparks, (Hooked On Your Love-from the Sparkle movie) Patti LaBelle, (If Only You Knew-Shoot Em On Sight-I Can’t Forget) The Stylistics, (Hurry Up This Way Again-Mine All Mine-What’s Your Name) Diggy, (Do It Like You) Teddy Pendergrass, (Love T.K.O.-Only You-All I Need Is You) Instant Funk, (Float Like A Butterfly- So Glad I’m The One) The Jones Girls, (You’re Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else-You Made Me Love You-Nights Over Egypt) Junior, (Not Tonight) Michael Jackson and The Jacksons, (Keep On Dancin-Jump For Joy-Different kind Of Lady) Donny Hathaway, (You Were Meant For Me) Loose Ends, (The Sweetest Pain-You Can’t Stop The Rain) Elle Varner, (Stop The Clock) MFSB, (Mysteries Of The World-Philadelphia Freedom-Manhattan Skyline) Lou Rawls, (Its Our Anniversary Today-Pure Imagination-Lovers Holiday) Billy Paul, (I Think I’ll Stay Home Today-Billys Back Home) P.P Arnold (A Little Pain) Jean Carn, (Give It Up-You Are All I Need-I’m In Love Once Again) Carl Carlton, (Spend The Night) Phyllis Hyman, (Living All Alone) Grover Washington Jr, (The Best Is Yet To Come) Pieces Of A Dream, (Warm Weather-Fo-Fi-Fo) Damon Williams (When, Where, How) Evelyn Champagne King (Shame-The Show Is Over) Sasss (Sassy Lady) Miles Jaye (I’ve Been A Fool For You), Philadelphia International All Stars (Clean Up The Ghetto), just to name a few.
Dexter’s music has been sampled over 500 times for a variety of Hip Hop tracks. His 1975 ‘Theme From The Planets’ drum beat intro, is one of the first foundation beats of Hip Hop, is still heavily sampled today and used in TV commercials and movie soundtracks. His music has been sampled by Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross, J Cole, Kid And Play, Eric B and Rakim, Wiz Khalifa, The Lox, Lil Kim, Ice T, Ice Cube, Stalley, and more.
In 1979 as conductor of the world famous MFSB Orchestra, Dexter Wansel was the music director/conductor for the historic show at the White House commemorating the very first ‘Black Music History Month’ celebration founded by Dyana Williams, Kenneth Gamble, and Ed Wright. From 1978 through 1980, Dexter Wansel was the A+R Director for Philadelphia International Records where he oversaw and coordinated many album and single releases by the labels artists under the direction of Gamble and Huff, including McFadden & Whiteheads hit single, “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now”
With his wife Judith Wansel their show called Sounds Of Philadelphia, the Grammy award winning Dexter Wansel performs the music he helped to create for some of the world’s most renowned recording artists, as well as his own music. The proud parents of 10 wonderful children, 20 grand children, and four great grand children, their youngest son, Andrew ‘Pop’ Wansel is a two time Grammy award winner and BMI producer of the year, one of the successful R&B/Pop music producer/writers of this age, and has created hits for recording artists such as K. Michele, Miguel, Jessie Ware, Monica, Usher, Trey Songz, Ginuwine, Elle Varner, Diggy, Jennifer Lopez, Kahlani, Fantasia, Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Alessia Cara, and Ariana Grande, just to name a few. The Sound of Philadelphia has many stories, this is just one of them.
Now this summer you can catch the award-winning legend Dexter Wansel performing during Food & Groove Festival happening right here in Manchester ! Get your tickets today!