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El Debarge

A native of Detroit, Michigan, El was the sixth of ten children born to Robert Louis DeBarge, Sr. and Etterlene (née Abney) DeBarge. DeBarge was already singing in his local church choir and playing piano as a child. Later after his family moved to Grand Rapids, he and the rest of his family began performing at their uncle's Pentecostal church. When El was thirteen, his parents divorced after a difficult and stormy marriage. El is of African American, English, French, and Native American descent. Growing up, he was closest to eldest brother Bobby and began imitating his brother's vocal styling.

For several years, El spent time being in private study with music educator Ricky Callier. By 1975, El had begun to express a desire to become a performer. El became a father for the first time at sixteen. He would eventually father eleven more children. In 1977, he dropped out of high school and began performing with his elder brothers in clubs and venues in Michigan. By 1979, Bernd Lichters was able to secure a deal with Source Records/MCA to release the Pall Mall Groove – Hot Ice album as SMASH for the USA/Canada market and moved El from Michigan to Los Angeles, to have him, his brothers Mark and Randy DeBarge, in addition to their cousin Andre Abney, Elliot Townsend, and Stanley Hood, to back up the release as the SMASH band. Eldest sister Bunny joined her brothers in California as well. In 1980, because of the success of their brothers Bobby and Tommy DeBarge with the hit group Switch, he was able to perform live at the piano and singing in front of Motown CEO Berry Gordy, who immediately signed the group, then known as The DeBarges, to the label.

Motown mentored them with members later working and contributing songwriting, arrangements, and production to the recordings of Switch, including the 1980 albums This Is My Dream and Reaching for Tomorrow. El DeBarge's first professional recording was as background vocalist to Switch's 1979 hit "I Call Your Name.". He later helped to arrange music for several Switch songs including "Love Over and Over Again" and "My Friend in the Sky," which he, Bunny, and Bobby wrote. This song would later be sampled by the likes of Queen Pen and Raheem DeVaughn.

Eldra Patrick "El" DeBarge (born June 4, 1961) is an American R&B and soul falsetto singer and was the focal point and lead singer of the DeBarge family group throughout the early to mid-1980s.
As a solo artist, he is best known for the hits "Who's Johnny" and "Love Always" and for his collaborations with Tone Loc, Quincy Jones, Fourplay and DJ Quik.

 

80's Hits

Rhythm of the Night
Who's Johnny

Members of this Group


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kyle_

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