Donell Jones

Donell Jones is a soul/hip-hop vocalist/songwriter who debuted on the R&B chart in 1996 with his album My Heart.

Born May 22, 1973, the singer grew up in Chicago's tough South Side. The singer cites his gospel singer father as a big inspiration during his formative years.

Jones was signed to LaFace Records in 1995, after impressing Motown Records executives at a music convention.

Initially, he wrote for other performers, including Madonna, 702, Silk and Brownstone. Usher had a top-10 hit with Jones' "Think of You."

But Jones' biggest hit was written by someone else. The Stevie Wonder-penned "Knocks Me Off My Feet" (from My Heart), reached the R&B top 20. He also scored with another track from the album, "In the Hood." My Heart established Jones' sound: Wonder-esque vocals over lush soul arrangements and hip-hop beats. Former Heavy D and the Boyz member DJ Eddie F executive produced the album.

Jones' sophomore album, Where I Wanna Be, was released in 1999. It features "U Know What's Up" and "It's Alright" (RealAudio excerpt).

Other birthdays Monday: Calvin Simon (Funkadelic), 58; and Johnny Gill (New Edition), 34.