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R&B Singer/songwriter Luther Ingram


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R&B Singer/Songwriter Luther Ingram

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Luther Ingram

ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- Luther Ingram, the R&B singer and songwriter best known for the hit, "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)," died Monday, March 19 at a Belleville, Illinois, hospital of heart failure, according to friend and journalist Bernie Hayes. He was 69.

Ingram had suffered for years from diabetes, kidney disease and partial blindness, his wife, Jacqui Ingram, added. "His instrument was his voice; his heart and head were his inspiration," said Hayes, a St. Louis journalist, disc jockey and author of "The Death of Black Radio."

Ingram performed with Ike Turner at clubs in East St. Louis, roomed with Jimi Hendrix in New York and was the opening act for Isaac Hayes. He recorded through the 1980s and performed in concert until the mid-1990s, when his health began declining.

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Luther Ingram

Ingram was born November 30, 1937, in Jackson, Tennessee. He started writing music and singing as a boy in a group with his siblings after his family moved to Alton, Illinois, in 1947. He had a five-year association with Memphis, Tennessee-based Stax Records during the height of its success.

In 1971, Ingram and songwriter-performer Sir Mack Rice co-wrote "Respect Yourself" for the Staple Singers, which turned into Stax's biggest hit. Ingram recorded "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)" in 1972 on Koko Records, which Stax distributed.

The song was No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's R&B chart and was later a hit for Barbara Mandrell. His other popular songs include "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)" and "I'll Be Your Shelter."

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Luther Ingram

"He was a soft-spoken, quiet person that I think relished peace," said Deanie Parker, who spent her career at Stax and Soulsville. "He was a very intense singer; he took it very seriously. When he was rehearsing, he'd go over it and over it and seek perfection."

A "musical visitation" will be held Sunday, March 25 at St. Augustine Catholic Church in East St. Louis. He is to be buried Monday, March 26 at Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Belleville.

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