R&B vocalist Jesse Powell has died, according to a statement released by his family. He was 51.
Powell’s sister Tamara Powell shared the statement in an Instagram post.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother and uncle Jesse Powell. He passed away peacefully in his Los Angeles home,” the statement said.
“The family asks for privacy at this time as we mourn the tremendous loss and celebrate his everlasting legacy. Jesse loved music and he especially loved his fans who supported him throughout his career. We want you all to know that you meant the world to him.”
At this time, there isn’t any information on the cause of death or the exact date of his death.
Powell released his self-titled debut album in March 1996 via Silas Records/MCA. It included the singles “All I Need,” “Gloria” and “I Like It.”
Nestled within the album was “You,” a ballad that later became his signature song and appeared on his sophomore album, ‘Bout It.
The beautiful tune, which Powell co-wrote with Carl Roland, received single treatment for his second album. Produced by Roland, “You” is undoubtedly a classic R&B record about professing your devotion to a love interest. Powell’s vocal performance on this song is simply magical.
“(And baby it’s you) / The way you walk, the way you talk / The way you say my name and smile (Baby, you) / The way you move me, the way you soothe me / The way you speak softly through the night (Baby, you) / Every morning you rise and open your eyes / I just wanna be there with you baby / I just wanna be yours, from this day forth,” he croons in the heartwarming chorus.
“You” debuted at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of Feb. 20, 1999. It ultimately peaked at No. 10 on the coveted singles list, which marked Powell’s first top 10 hit. In the streaming world, it remains his top played track on Spotify with nearly 13 million streams at the time of publishing.
Aside from “You,” the album’s first single “I Wasn’t With It” reached No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 — Powell’s first entry on the popular chart.
Bout It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in June 1999 for selling more than 500,000 copies.
Powell went on to release two additional albums, JP (2001) and Jesse (2003). The former album included the lead single “If I,” another powerful yet underrated ballad.
“It’s about when you get to that point where you’re not sure if the relationship’s going forward,” Powell explained to Billboard in a 2001 interview. “You’re hoping it’s not over, but you’ve done some things that maybe you shouldn’t have.”
Revisit Jesse Powell’s live performance of “If I” below.