Despite a late start, traditional soul singer Maxwell has earned many accolades.

Born May 23, 1973, in Brooklyn, N.Y., of West Indian and Puerto Rican heritage, Maxwell didn't begin his musical career until his late teens, when he began writing songs on a keyboard given to him as a gift. Soon he started gigging in New York clubs.

Columbia Records signed Maxwell in 1994. Although he recorded his debut quickly, it went unreleased for two years. A concept album about romantic love that introduced the singer's own brand of soul/funk, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite rose slowly on the charts. Eventually it went platinum on the strength of its second single, "Ascension (Never Wonder)" (RealAudio excerpt).

The album also received a Grammy Award nomination and two Soul Train Awards.

Maxwell's sophomore effort, 1998's Embrya, made the top five on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It also showed the singer's propensity for coming up with unusually long and cryptic song titles, such as "Submerge: Til We Become the Sun," "Gestation: Mythos/Everwanting: To Want You to Want" and "Eachhoureachsecondeachminuteeachday: Of My Life."

Maxwell enjoyed one of the biggest-selling singles of 1999 with "Fortunate" (RealAudio excerpt), from the soundtrack to the movie "Life." That same year, the singer contributed tracks to the soundtrack of another film, "The Best Man."

He reportedly is working on his next LP.

Other birthdays Tuesday: "General" Norman Johnson (Chairmen of the Board), 57, and Raymond "Tiki" Fulwood (Funkadelic), 56.