For Grover Washington, Jr., making music was always more than just recording hits, touring and selling records. It was about personal choices within a personal journey, the continual evolution of an artist creating a sound, a niche, and a style that became undeniably his own.
Whilst his first three albums established him as a force in jazz and soul music, it was his fourth album in 1974, Mister Magic, that proved a major commercial success. The album climbed to number 10 in Billboard's Top 40 album chart and the title track reached #16 on the R&B singles chart (#54, pop). All these albums included guitarist Eric Gale as a near-permanent member in Washington's arsenal. His follow-up on Kudu in 1975, Feels So Good also made #10 on the album chart.
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A string of acclaimed records brought Washington through the 1970s, culminating in the signature piece for everything he would do from then on. Winelight (1980) was the album that defined everything Washington was then about, having signed for Elektra Records, part of the major Warner Music group. The album was smooth, fused with R&B and easy listening feel. Washington's love of basketball, especially the Philadelphia 76ers, led him to dedicate the second track, "Let It Flow", to Julius Erving (Dr. J). The highlight of the album was his collaboration with soul artist Bill Withers, "Just The Two of Us," a huge hit on radio during the spring and summer of '81, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100. The album went platinum in 1981, and also won Grammy Awards in 1982 for Best R&B Song ("Just The Two of Us"), and Best Jazz Fusion Performance ("Winelight"). "Winelight" was also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.