The multi-talented Ingram was a self-contained group of sisters and brothers from Camden, NJ, consisting of -- Norman (bass and trumpet), James or Jimi (vocals, keyboards, sax, flute), Barbara (vocals), Billy (guitar, bass, trombone), John (lead vocals, drums, tuba), Timmy (drums, percussion, trumpet) and Francis, Edith, and Virginia Ingram (vocals). Their love of music is rooted in gospel and comes from their father, a minister, who had a radio show on Philadelphia's WIMR.
They came out as the Ecstasies, minus Norman (Butch), who was pursuing a professional basketball career and did various solo projects before merging into a family group. Barbara sang backing vocals at Sigma Sound Studios in the early '70s, most notably for Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff projects, but nearly every producer in town employed her at one time or another. Jimi pumped out five singles from 1973 to 1975 on All Platinum and Mainstream Records as Prophecy. After an accident that ended his b-ball aspirations, Butch learned the bass and assembled his siblings into the nine strong Ingram Kingdom. Totally self-taught, Butch purchased some recording equipment and cut The Funk Is in Our Music (1976).
They got a deal with Excello Records, a label more noted for blues than rhythm & blues, and surely not the soul/funk vibes the Ingram brood put down. Still, 25,000 copies of the LP moved in the Camden/Philly area. In-between the pressing of the album and an Excello single they became the Ingram Family. They signed with H & L Records in 1977, which resulted in a second album, That's All, credited to simply Ingram, it achieved its greatest popularity in the United Kingdom via the instrumental "Mi Sabrina Tequano." In the States, "Get Your Stuff Off" b/w "Stylin' Profylin'" were the popular joints off the album. H & L went belly up resulting in a long inactive period because the bankrupt label owned -- for recording purposes -- their surname Ingram.
Butch started producing others artists including Philly Cream (actually becoming Philly Cream after the Ohio group disbanded before their album was finished), Barbara Mason, Stylistics, Blue Magic, David Simmons, Brandi Wells, and Ronnie Dyson.
Ingram resurfaced in 1983 for one last shot spawning two albums on Mirage Records -- Would You Like to Fly (1983) and Night Stalkers (1985) -- and singles: "Just for You," "Smoothin' Groovin'" (U.K. Top 75), and "DJ's Delight." Streetwise Records licensed the tracks in the U.K. where they received more recognition than the States.
A string of hits wasn't in the cards for the talented family who were totally autonomous -- they wrote their material, recorded it, and setup Family Productions Company to publish the works. Jimi resurfaced as the producer for the Sweethearts; John cut a solo single "Can I Take You Home Tonight"; Barbara still lived in Philly studios; and Butch (who tinkled with his own labels, including Society Hill Records) returned to his first love, basketball, this time as the Assistant Basketball Coach for Camden County College. His song "Another Man," written and produced for Barbara Mason, was sampled by the late Notorious BIG as "Another." ~ Andrew Hamilton