AHMIR began with founding members Leon Jones and Michael McDonald. Michael McDonald, also known as Big Mike, came from one of the roughest areas in Harlem, New York City. Though he was negatively influenced by the conditions surrounding him, Big Mike persevered, focusing on his growth and musical talent. He joined the renowned Boys Choir of Harlem where he reached the rank of soloist and performed with some of the most legendary artists in the world such as Pavarotti, Luther Vandross and Babyface. Big Mike continued to hone his singing craft, which proudly led him to securing a scholarship to attend Boston University for vocal performance.
Leon Jones, AKA Mr. Jones, the only member who is originally from Boston, came to know his voice through the church and further through joining the choir at his alma mater, Northeastern University. It was during this time that he and Big Mike (then a member of Boston University’s choir), met and realized they shared a vision of, as Mr. Jones describes, “starting a male R&B group that was not only built on the foundation of music, but also brotherhood.”
Third member, KC Washington was raised in Rochester, New York. With a dream of stardom and only a few hundred dollars in his pocket, KC moved to Boston determined to pursue a career in music. It was a difficult transition, which included staying at a shelter before he was able to find employment and get his feet on the ground. However, destined as it was, KC encountered a flier announcing auditions for a third and fourth member of what would be AHMIR. He did not hesitate for one second before making the call.
The loveable Mark Robertson AKA Sing-Sing, hails from Philadelphia, PA. An avid fan of Michael Jackson, Sing-Sing auditioned and was accepted into the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), whose alumni include legendary R&B group Boyz II Men, notable jazz bassist Christian McBride, and Bilal who is one of his all-time favorite artists. Sing-Sing later headed to Boston to attend the world-renowned Berklee College of Music where Big Mike and Mr. Jones discovered him singing at a concert and added him as the final member of the group.
At the start, the group began their career under a different name, One Luv, but then decided to go with a more distinct name, one that would truly represent their place in music. AHMIR, Arabic for “Prince” was decided on; a perfectly fitting name as they were just then becoming the new princes of Pop/R&B. The fellas had gained notoriety on YouTube by covering Top 40 Pop songs from huge crossover stars from Taylor Swift to Usher. Centric.com wrote, “It’s great to hear some of the most tepid pop songs ever recorded granted new heart, energy, and even a previously absent sincerity…we’re grateful for the gifts of AHMIR and the smattering of male soul groups keeping the quartet tradition alive.”
In 2006, the group had one of their first major breakthroughs, charting the single “Welcome To My Party” on Billboard independently. They reached #3 on the Hip Hop/R&B Single Sales chart and #19 on the year’s Top Selling R&B/Hip Hop Singles Sales chart. Through this, AHMIR began gaining local and national attention and coverage from publications including the front page of the Boston Globe.
The foursome would later be invited to perform at Billboard’s industry competition, “We Hear the Future.” AHMIR won this competition, earning them the industry credibility that they had long been working for and also getting a foretelling write-up in Billboard as the “They’re Next” featured artist. “Sweet harmonies are the hallmark of Boston-based AHMIR,” wrote Billboard’s Senior Music Editor, Gail Mitchell, for the feature piece.
Off the success of their first single, AHMIR ended up touring Europe, visiting numerous countries like Germany and Austria. AHMIR was welcome with open arms by a new and eager fan base. AHMIR would continue to grow in popularity with another single, “The Wedding Song.” In 2007 the song went viral, and the group was requested to sing the tune in weddings across the country. On April 11, 2007 the group independently debuted their first album entitled, The Gift, which included their most popular singles, “Welcome To My Party” and “The Wedding Song.”
The Gift won a Boston Urban Music Award that year and AHMIR was once again catapulted even higher in the public eye. In fact, it earned them a spot on the national NBC show, America’s Got Talent, where they advanced to the Top 35. They received rave reviews from the panel, which at the time consisted of Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan, and David Hasselhoff. Sharon proclaimed to AHMIR, “You’re special, very special.” In 2008, they once again held a national TV spot. On the top rated BET show, 106 & Park, AHMIR performed for the “Wild-Out Wednesday” competition, winning the title for best group performance.
With 400,000 subscribers and over 70 million YouTube views, AHMIR is the undisputed #1 R&B group on the global video-sharing website. Yahoo! listed them as the “Top 5 YouTube Cover Artists. The Best Acts You Should Be Listening To Today.” MTV Iggy declared AHMIR as “Top 10 Most Likely to Become The Next Justin Bieber.”
The talented foursome has used their popularity not just as a platform for their music career, but also to raise awareness for various non-profits and charities locally and across the globe. The group has used their success to bring awareness to Lucy's Love Bus children's cancer charity, The Haiti Relief Fund, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, YMCA, and The Pixel Project to Stop Violence Against Women, to name a few. Their cover video of Pink's "Perfect" was named one of the top Anti-Bullying PSA's by The Huffington Post.
After meeting with nearly every major record label, on September 22, 2010 AHMIR was signed to Robbins Entertainment. AHMIR’s debut single, “War” is gradually making waves throughout Top 40 radio stations across the country, gaining the attention of syndicated radio host and Z100 music director, Jagger of Clear Channel’s “The Weekend Throwdown” and Sirius XM radio’s top Pop music station 20 on 20 and R&B Hits station The Heat.
No, AHMIR’s success did not come overnight, nor will it last fifteen minutes. AHMIR has proven that they are more than just a fleeting fad of the moment, but rather an undeniable force that is here to stay. AHMIR plans on debuting their first album under Robbins Entertainment in 2013.