If you are familiar with THE ISLEY BROTHERS, then you know Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, CHRIS JASPER, an integral member of THE ISLEY BROTHERS during the 1970s and 1980s—their gold and platinum years—from the 3+3 (1973) to Between the Sheets (1983) albums. These were the years when THE ISLEY BROTHERS were a self-produced, self-contained group.
If you are familiar with THE ISLEY BROTHERS, then you have heard the music of CHRIS JASPER, who was primarily responsible for writing, arranging and producing all of THE ISLEY BROTHERS music during this time, including such beautiful love songs as “For The Love of You” and “Between the Sheets” and uptempo funk such as “Fight the Power.” His arrangements and instrumentation as a classically-trained musician, and his expertise on the keyboards and synthesizers, are the foundation of the legendary “Isley Brothers Sound.” When the six members of THE ISLEY BROTHERS disbanded (1984), Marvin and Ernie Isley joined CHRIS JASPER and formed ISLEY-JASPER-ISLEY. Without this crucial musical component, THE ISLEY BROTHERS were no longer a self-produced, self-contained group.
CHRIS JASPER brought his “unique sound” and musical talents to ISLEY-JASPER-ISLEY, and topped the charts singing lead vocals on “Caravan of Love” (1985), a song that was covered by English recording group, the Housemartins, an international #1 pop hit. “Caravan” was also used in commercials as part of a Dodge Caravan advertising campaign. He was also awarded a CEBA Award For Excellence for a Miller Brewing Company commercial. The music for that commercial formed the basis for “Brother to Brother” from the “Different Drummer” album, which supported the anti-apartheid struggle going on in South Africa at that time. His music has also been used in radio and television commercials, including “Who’s That Lady” (Swiffer) and “Between The Sheets” (L’Oreal).
When ISLEY-JASPER-ISLEY disbanded (1987), CHRIS JASPER brought his “unique sound” to his own solo projects, topping the charts with “SuperBad,” a song promoting the value of education. CHRIS JASPER has continued to write songs and produce his own R&B and Gospel music, as well as other artists, for his independent record label, Gold City Records.
CHRIS JASPER’s music has been covered and sampled by hundreds of new and established recording artists, including Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Fantasia, Will Smith, Alliyah, Queen Latifah, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Natalie Cole, Jaheim, Kendrick Lamar, and the list goes on and on. His music has also been used in many movie and television soundtracks.
In 1992, CHRIS JASPER, along with the other members of THE ISLEY BROTHERS, was inducted into the ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME and in 2014, received a GRAMMY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. In 2015, CHRIS JASPER received the German Record Critics Lifetime Achievement Award ("Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik"). In 2016, Chris was awarded the National R&B Society Lifetime Achievement Award. Chris also received the BET Lifetime Achievement Award and numerous ASCAP awards. In 2020, Chris was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2021, Chris received the Soultracks.com Lifetime Achievement Award.
BACKGROUND AND EDUCATION
Chris Jasper was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 30, 1951, the youngest of seven siblings. While growing up in Cincinnati, Chris studied classical piano starting at the age of 7 years old. After graduating from high school in Cincinnati, he moved to New York to study music composition at the Juilliard School of Music.
Chris received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music composition from C.W. Post College in New York, where he studied under noted jazz pianist and composer, Dr. Billy Taylor. He subsequently received a Juris Doctorate degree from Concord University School of Law.
THE JASPER/ISLEY CONNECTION
The Jasper and Isley families lived in the same apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio. Chris’s older sister, Elaine, married Rudolph Isley. The three older Isley brothers, Rudolph, O’Kelly and Ronald, formed a vocal trio (“The Isley Brothers”) and relocated to Teaneck, New Jersey.
While temporarily living in New Jersey as a teenager, Chris and the two younger Isley brothers, Marvin and Ernie, formed a band, “The Jazzmen Trio”, that played locally in New Jersey. Chris played keyboards, Ernie played drums and Marvin played the bass. Along with Chris, Ernie and Marvin also attended C.W. Post College in New York. While in college, Chris, Marvin and Ernie played on the older Isley Brothers recordings, including “It’s Your Thing”.
THE ISLEY BROTHERS YEARS
In 1973, Chris, Marvin and Ernie brought the songwriting and musical component to the older brothers vocal trio, making The Isley Brothers, a self-produced, self-contained six-member group. Their debut release as a 6-member band on their CBS-associated label was the 3+3 album.
Chris was the primary songwriter/musician, producer and arranger of The Isley Brothers music from 1973 (“3+3”) through 1983 (“Between the Sheets”), with contributions by younger members Ernie and Marvin Isley. Chris’s arrangements and instrumentation as a classically-trained musician, and his expertise on the keyboards, synthesizers and other instruments, have been credited as the foundation of the legendary “Isley Brothers Sound.” In 1984, the 6-member group disbanded due to internal problems.
In 1984, Chris, Marvin and Ernie formed Isley-Jasper-Isley, a self-produced, self-contained trio, with Chris as the lead singer of the group, continuing his role as the primary songwriter/musician, producer and arranger. Isley-Jasper-Isley recorded 3 albums on their CBS-associated label, and earned recognition with their #1 hit, “Caravan of Love”. “Caravan” was covered by English recording group, the Housemartins, who made the song an international #1 hit.
In 1987, Isley-Jasper-Isley disbanded and Chris embarked on a solo career. Chris formed his record label, Gold City Records, and released two albums as a CBS-associated label. His debut single, “Superbad” reached #1 on the R&B charts. Chris has continued to write songs and has released a total of 16 solo albums to date, including 4 urban contemporary gospel CDs, and has produced other artists for his Gold City label. Chris also wrote and produced a track for Chaka Khan’s “CK” album (Make It Last) and produced and arranged a cover of “Harvest For The World” for the Average White Band. Chris is also currently working with his 29-year-old son, Michael, on music scores for original screenplays written by Michael, a writer/musician and attorney.
In 2019, Chris released his 16th self-contained solo album “For The Love Of You”—a mixture of new renditions of some of the songs that he wrote for the Isley Brothers, and his take on some soul and pop classics. Chris continues to bring that “Isley Brothers sound” he created to music lovers everywhere. His newest release for 2022 is a soulful midtempo R&B ballad “I Promise,” from his forthcoming album “Raise The Bar” due out summer 2022.
Chris and his wife of 40 years, Margie, a New York-based attorney and author, live in New York and continue to operate their independent record company, Gold City Records.
ISLEY BROTHERS YEARS
3+3 (CBS) 1973
Live It Up (CBS) 1974
The Heat Is On (CBS) 1975
Harvest For The World (CBS) 1976
Go For Your Guns (CBS) 1977
Showdown (CBS) 1978
Winner Takes All (CBS) 1979
Go All The Way (CBS) 1980
Grand Slam (CBS) 1981
Inside You (CBS) 1981
The Real Deal (CBS) 1982
Between The Sheets (CBS) 1983
Broadway’s Closer to Sunset Boulevard (CBS) 1984
Caravan of Love (CBS) 1985
Different Drummer (CBS) 1986
Superbad (Gold City/CBS Associated) 1988
Time Bomb (Gold City/CBS Associated) 1989
Praise the Eternal (Gold City) 1992
Deep Inside (Gold City) 1994
Faithful & True (Gold City) 2002
Best of Chris Jasper…With Love (Gold City) 2003
Amazing Love (Gold City) 2005
Invincible (Gold City) 2007
Everything I Do (Gold City) 2010
Inspired (Gold City) 2013
Thank You Jesus (Gold City) 2014
The One (Gold City) 2014
The Essential Chris Jasper (Gold City/Sony Legacy) 2015
Share With Me (Gold City) 2016
Dance With You (Gold City) 2018
For The Love Of You (Gold City) 2020
Raise The Bar (Gold City) 2022
It Started With A Kiss (Gold City) 2023
Vicious & Fresh (Liz Hogue) (Gold City/CBS) 1989
Out Front (Out Front) (Gold City) 1995
Brotha 2 Brotha (Brothaz By Choice) (Gold City) 1998
Make It Last (Chaka Khan “CK” album) (WB) 1989
Addictive (Michael Jasper) (Gold City) 2010
Harvest For The World (Average White Band) (Average Enterprises) (2017)