Aaron Joseph Neville (1941 – )

Warm Your Heart (A&M Records, 1991) album by Aaron Neville
Copyright held by the record label or the artist. (Fair use)

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Country, R&B singer, arranger, pianist, lyricist Aaron Joseph Neville was born on January 24, 1941, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Arthur Neville, Sr, a merchant marine sailor, and Amelia Neville. He has three brothers, Arthur Neville, II; Charles Neville, Cyril Neville, and one sister, Athelgra Neville Gabriel. Neville attended the Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans but left in the 11th grade in 1958 to pursue his passion for singing and playing the piano.

On January 10, 1959, 17-year-old Neville married 18-year-old Joel Roux, who had just graduated from Xavier Preparatory University High School in New Orleans. They became the parents of Ernestine Neville, Ivan Neville, Aaron Neville, Jr, and Jason Neville. They eventually had six grandchildren.

In 1960, Neville’s first single release, “Over You,” rose to No. 21 on the national R&B charts. However, he is best known for his 1966 hit “Tell it like it is,” which peaked at No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. His two duets with Linda Ronstadt, “I Don’t Know Much” in 1989 and “All My Life” in 1990, were Grammy winners. And the former was also nominated for Song of the Year.

In 1977, Neville created a funk band, The Neville Brothers, which featured the New Orleans Mardi Gras festive flavor. Their debut album, The Neville Brothers, was released in 1978 on Capitol Records. Also, in 1994, he and Trisha Yearwood were presented with the Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Vocal Collaboration for “I Fall to Pieces.” Besides, he was awarded the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal by the Catholic University of America in 2002.

Neville performed a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan, in 2006,

After the passing of Joel Roux, Neville married People magazine photographer Ann Friedman in New York City in 2010.  By that point “Tell it like it is” was ranked No. 391 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In addition, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame during his Baton Rouge Manship Theater concert in the Shaw Center.

In 2015 Aaron Joseph Neville received the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics, the Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame for his philanthropic services to the Catholic Church and society; and a 2015 Grammy Hall of Fame Recording inductee for “Tell It like it is.”