“I’m the artist when I’m doing music that I am when I’m acting. I’m everything”.
There are very few entertainers in the world today that are as versatile as Eddie Murphy. When you sit down and consider how successful he is at every endeavor, it can be mind boggling. From Saturday Night Live to Nutty Professor and Shrek, even the ventures he might consider flops are projects that others would love to have placed on their biographies. Eddie Murphy also performs and records music. Click HERE to view a previous post featuring Murphy in Weekly Music Commentary. Eddie Murphy is not the only entertainer to travel the diverse path to success. This week I chose to feature a similar artist who has made the seamless jumps from television, to films, and music in between. The featured artist this week is none other than the amazing Jamie Foxx.
Foxx of course did not just arrive on the scene as the multi-talented artist you see today ready for the world. No, Jamie Foxx had an interesting climb to the top of Hollywood and the music industry.
Born Eric Marlon Bishop on December 13, 1967, in Terrell, Texas, Jamie Foxx has emerged as one of the most diversely talented entertainers of his generation. A singer, comedian, and actor, Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx has proved to be a triple threat in the entertainment industry. After his parents’ marriage dissolved, Foxx was adopted by his maternal grandparents when he was less than a year old. He has often acknowledged his grandmother’s influence in his life as one of the greatest reasons for his success. Like so many musicians before him, Foxx began playing the piano when he was five years old. Throughout his high school years Foxx displayed his natural talent for music and comedy, as well as displaying athletic talent while playing both basketball and football.
After receiving a scholarship, Foxx enrolled at Alliant International University in San Diego where he majored in music. It was during college in 1989 that he was encouraged by friends to take the open mike one night at a comedy club, and his career in entertainment began.
Interestingly, Jamie Foxx got his start in comedy instead of in his major field of study: music. However, he seemed to be very comfortable on the stage, regardless of his mode of performance. Just two years later following a move to Los Angeles, Jamie Foxx joined the cast of the Fox comedy variety show In Living Color. It was then that a very large audience discovered a hilarious comic destined for a long, and successful career. In 1994, Foxx left In Living Color, but he soon returned to television. Because of his huge popularity on the show, the network gave him his own series, The Jamie Foxx Show, in 1996. Foxx played a struggling Los Angeles actor who lived in a hotel owned by his aunt and uncle. During the show’s run until 2001, Jamie Foxx got the chance to show his growing television audience that he possessed musical talent. On several occasions Foxx played the piano and sang, giving us all a glimpse of some startling musical possibilities. More was to come.
Television opened the door to opportunities in the film industry for Jamie Foxx. Very big opportunities. His first dramatic role came in Oliver Stone’s 1999 film “Any Given Sunday”, where he was cast as a hard-partying American football player, partly because of his own football background. Foxx later played taxi driver Max Durocher in the film “Collateral” alongside Tom Cruise, for which he received outstanding reviews and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The door soon opened wider for Jamie Foxx to display more of his talent as a serious actor, as well as his musical abilities. Foxx would portray Ray Charles in the biographical film Ray (2004), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Foxx is the second male in history to receive two acting Oscar nominations in the same year for two different movies, “Collateral” and “Ray” (the only other male actor to achieve this feat being Al Pacino).
Finally, after the great deal of film success, Jamie Foxx got the opportunity to seriously give his music career a shot. Foxx released his second studio album, Unpredictable, in December 2005. It debuted at number 2, selling 598,000 copies in its first week, rising to number 1 the following week and selling an additional 200,000 copies. To date, the album has sold 1.98 million copies in the United States, and was certified double Platinum by the RIAA. The album also charted on the UK Albums Chart, where it peaked at number 9. Foxx made history once again as he became the fourth artist to have both won an Academy Award® for an acting role and to have achieved a number 1 album in the U.S, joining Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Barbra Streisand.
After firmly establishing himself as a true entertainment triple threat, Foxx recently released his fifth studio album, Hollywood: A Story of a Dozen Roses, on May 18, 2015. It debuted atop the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and at number 10 on the Billboard 200. Foxx is joined by some of the premier artists of today to help him create a modern sound. Chris Brown, Wale, Kid Ink and Pharrell all contribute to what promises to be another great album.
Have you ever met someone who appears to be able to do everything well? It might seem that way but we know that’s not the case. I’m sure there are a few things that Jamie Foxx cannot do well. However, when it comes to the entertainment industry, the Academy and Grammy Award winning actor/musician/comedian can do it all.
* photo by Don Monick