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Weldon Jonathan Irvine, Jr. (October 27, 1943 – April 9, 2002), also known Master Wel, was an American composer, playwright, poet, pianist and organist.
Irvine, an African American, was born in Hampton, Virginia on October 27, 1943. He moved to New York City in 1965. He was involved with various musical genres including Jazz-Funk, jazz, hip hop, funk, rhythm and blues, and gospel. He served as the bandleader for jazz singer Nina Simone and was a mentor to many New York hip-hop artists, including Q-Tip and Mos Def. He wrote over 500 songs, including the lyrics for "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black", performed live for the first time by Nina Simone on the album Black Gold (1970). It has been dubbed the "official" Civil Rights anthems.
In 2000 Irvine provided the vocal intoductions to tracks on the first CD of the album Late Night Blues by UK Drum & Bass producer Big Bud. He co-wrote and performed vocals and played the Fender Rhodes on the first track entitled Return of Spiritman. He also played the Fender Rhodes on closing track Persian Blues.
Irvine's last major project was The Price of Freedom (1999), a compilation of original songs by hip-hop, jazz, funk, and R&B artists to respond to the shooting of Amadou Diallo. Irvine committed suicide outside of EAB Plaza and in front of the Nassau Coliseum located in Uniondale, New York on April 9, 2002.
In 2003, Madlib, Mr. Dibbs and Breakestra produced a tribute to Weldon Irvine, "Suite for Weldon". The following year, Madlib released the full length album A Tribute to Brother Weldon.Wide ThumbClearartFanartBanner User Comments