What do Janet Jackson, Gwen Stefani and Usher have in common?
The incomparable music producing duo, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, produced some of their greatest hits.
In the latest episode of ‘LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez,’ James Samuel Harris III – known as Jimmy Jam – opens up about his iconic career, which has earned him five Grammy Awards, a star on the Walk of Fame and dozens of No. 1 billboard hits.
He has already been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in the fall of 2022 he will be inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. For Jam, music is everything.
“I breathe music,” he says. “The common thread in the quilt of life is music. These are the things that show us our commonalities, not our differences. It’s a huge responsibility. We take it as a privilege to be able to do so.
Jimmy Jam grew up in Minneapolis, the son of blues and jazz musician “Cornbread” Harris. It was a formative period for Jam. In high school, he took piano lessons from Prince and met his future business partner Terry Lewis. He joined the band, Flyte Tyme, which later became The Time, which Prince helped build.
Eventually Jam and Lewis split up and began producing for musical artists such as Gladys Knight, Patti Austin and Thelma Houston.
It wasn’t until they met a young Janet Jackson that they became industry giants, producing her breakthrough album ‘Control’, and later her albums ‘Rhythm Nation’, ‘The Velvet Rope’ and “All for You”.
“She means everything,” he said. “She was creative, just our muse. It took us around the world. It’s all really down to the power of working with Janet.
Jam has enjoyed tremendous success working with the most iconic musicians of all time. More recently, Jam and Lewis released their own album, titled Jam and Lewis Volume I.
The album features some of the biggest artists they’ve worked with over the years, singing songs written and produced by the producer duo.
They are currently working on Volume II. For Jam, his career has been a dream come true: he works with his best friend, Terry Lewis, creating the music he loves. He hopes to leave music in a better place – and as for his hope for his legacy?
“I think at the end of the day, I’d like to be remembered in terms of the legacy, personally, just as a nice guy,” he said.
Watch “LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez” at 9 p.m. every Monday on Spectrum News 1.