Jazz, soul and folk singer experienced late career success after his work was rediscovered by Massive Attack and Beth Orton
Soul and jazz singer Terry Callier has died. The 67-year-old songwriter experienced belated success in his career after working with acts including Massive Attack and Beth Orton.
He died on Sunday after suffering from a long illness.
Born in the Chicago projects, Callier was a childhood friend of Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler, and began singing in doo-wop groups in his teens. Later he became a fixture on the city’s coffee house scene, releasing a debut album titled The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier in 1968. In the early 70s he released three critically celebrated “jazz-folk” albums and toured with George Benson and Gil Scott-Heron, but he had abandoned music for a job as a computer programmer at the University of Chicago until a new generation rediscovered his work in the early 90s.
With the encouragement of the likes of Eddie Pillar of the Acid Jazz label in London, Callier started to gig again in the UK, and contributed to a Beth Orton EP in 1997. The following year he released his own album, Timepeace. It was only when that record won a United Nations award that his employers at the university discovered his new double life and dismissed him from his post.
“After all that had happened over the years, I wasn’t looking to be a musician again because I had got used to having that pay cheque every two weeks,” he told the Guardian in 2004.
Five more albums followed, including 2009’s Hidden Conversations, written and produced with Massive Attack.
Callier had been dividing his time in recent years between Chicago and England.