Calvin Richardson was born December 16, 1976 in Monroe, N.C. The fifth of nine children, he experienced a very musical upbringing. His mother led a gospel group called The Willing Wonders, and he served as their youngest member. When he wasn’t performing, he was listening to soul and funk artists like Bobby Womack, Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway and Otis Redding.
He met longtime friends Cedric “K-Ci” and Joel “JoJo” Hailey through the North Carolina gospel circuit. The brothers went on to form the popular ’90s R&B group Jodeci, and they later performed as the duo K-Ci & JoJo.
When Jodeci made it to the mainstream, Richardson was inspired to form his own urban contemporary group called Undacova. Their song “Love Slave” appeared on the soundtrack to the 1995 film “New Jersey Drive,” but the group didn’t last long. They never even released an album. Richardson pursued a solo career instead and landed a deal with Uptown/Universal.
His first solo album, Country Boy, was released in 1999 and featured the singles “True Love,” featuring Chico DeBarge and “I’ll Take Her,” featuring K-Ci Hailey. Despite the fact that the album sold 100,000 copies, proving Richardson was a promising act, Uptown/Universal dropped him.