Garland Jeffreys has earned a loyal international audience for his intelligent and passionate songs, informed by a variety of musical styles from rock and R&B to reggae and dance music, and dealing with topics both personal and political, often at the same time. While not especially prolific -- he has released a mere six studio albums since 1981 -- Jeffreys' work reveals a rock & roller's soul and a poetic sensibility that have earned him the respect of musical peers such as Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, David Johansen, and John Cale.
Jeffreys was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1944. Of African-American, Puerto Rican, and European heritage, he was raised in a multi-cultural household and a neighborhood that was not always accepting of his family's racial diversity. Jeffreys' parents enjoyed jazz vocalists such as Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, and Dinah Washington, and as a teenager, he developed a taste for doo-wop and rhythm & blues; as the '50s gave way to the '60s, he became a passionate fan of soul music and Bob Dylan's early work.
After graduating from high school, Jeffreys studied art history at Syracuse University, where he struck up friendships with fellow students and music fans Lou Reed and Felix Cavaliere. Jeffreys' 1973 solo debut was a commercial disappointment, but that same year, he released a standalone single, "Wild in the Streets." The song, arranged by New Orleans keyboard legend Dr. John, became an underground hit, and when Jeffreys moved to A&M Records, the track was included on his first album for the label, 1977's Ghost Writer, which led to Jeffreys being named Best New Artist of the Year by Rolling Stone.
In the late 1990s, Jeffreys and his wife welcomed the birth of their daughter Savannah, and he took time off from his recording career to be a full-time father, and it wasn't until 2011 that he returned with a full album of new material, The King of In Between, followed up with the new 2013 release Truth Serum.
Tune in Today at Noon for a live session with Garland Jeffreys on Open Air.