Ralph MacDonald, the Grammy-award winning percussionist, songwriter, producer, and long time producer, passed away after a battle with lung cancer Sunday morning in Connecticut.
MacDonald was born in Harlem on March 15, 1944 and at 17, he landed a job in Harry Belafonte’s steel band, where he remained for the next decade. He wrote an album of songs that Belafonte recorded as “Calypso Carnival” in 1966.
Soon afterwards, MacDonald launched his own publishing company, Antisia Music, with his friends Bill Salter and William Eaton. MacDonald soon started working with Roberta Flack aand pitched her a song he had written with Salter.“Where Is The Love,” recorded with Donny Hathaway, became a multi-million-seller.
Through Antisia and as an acclaimed percussionist, MacDonald worked with a who’s who of artists, including Amy Winehouse, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Bette Midler, Diana Ross and Grover Washington Jr., for whom he wrote the hit “Mr. Magic.”
He won Grammy awards as a performer and producer for “Calypso Breakdown,” which appeared on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack.
“Just the Two Of Us” was first released on Washington’s 1980 album “Winelight,” which MacDonald wrote and produced.
He is survived by his wife, Grace, and four children, Nefra-Ann, Atiba, Anthony and Giovanni. Funeral services are to be announced.