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Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, CBE (born October 2, 1951), universally known by his stage name Sting, is a Grammy Award-winning English musician from Wallsend in Newcastle upon Tyne. Prior to starting his solo career, he was the principal songwriter, lead singer and bass guitar player of the rock band The Police. As a solo musician and member of The Police, Sting has sold over 45 million records, and received over sixteen Grammy Awards for his work, receiving his first Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1981.
Sumner was born in Wallsend (an area of North Tyneside in the northeast of England) to Ernest Sumner and his wife Audrey Cowell, a hairdresser. Ernest and Audrey had three more children after Gordon: a son Philip and two daughters, Angela and Anita. Ernest managed a dairy: young Gordon would often assist his father with the early-morning milk-delivery rounds. The Sumner siblings were raised as Roman Catholics, due to the influence of their Irish paternal grandmother. Gordon attended St. Cuthbert's High School in Newcastle upon Tyne. Later, he left the University of Warwick in Coventry, after only one term. During this time, Gordon would often sneak into nightclubs like the Club-A-Go-Go. Here, he would watch acts such as Jack Bruce and Jimi Hendrix...acts which would later influence Gordon's own music. After jobs as a bus conductor, a construction laborer, and a tax officer, Gordon attended Northern Counties College of Education, (which later became part of Northumbria University) from 1971 to 1974 and qualified as a teacher . He then worked as a schoolteacher at St. Paul's First School in Cramlington for two years. His experiences there would inspire him to write two of the Police's greatest hits: "Don't Stand So Close To Me" and "Roxanne." Each was loosely based on one of his favorite books: "Lolita" and "Cyrano de Bergerac," respectively. From an early age, Sumner knew that he wanted to be a musician. His first music gigs were wherever he could get a job. He performed evenings, weekends, and during vacations from college and from teaching. He played with local jazz bands such as the Phoenix Jazzmen, the Newcastle Big Band, and Last Exit.
Sting has stated that he gained his nickname while with the Phoenix Jazzmen. He once performed wearing a black and yellow sweater with hooped stripes that bandleader Gordon Solomon had noted made him look like a bumblebee; thus Sumner became "Sting." He uses Sting almost exclusively, except on official documents. In a press conference filmed in the movie Bring on the Night, he jokingly stated when referred to by a journalist as Gordon, "My children call me Sting, my mother calls me Sting, who is this Gordon character?"
In January 1977, Sting moved from Newcastle to London, and soon thereafter he joined Stewart Copeland and Henry Padovani (who was soon replaced by Andy Summers) to form the New Wave band The Police. Between 1978 and 1983, they released five chart-topping albums and won six Grammy Awards. Although their initial sound was punk inspired, The Police soon switched to reggae-tinged rock and minimalist pop. Their last album, Synchronicity, which included their most successful song, "Every Breath You Take", was released in 1983. While never formally breaking up, after Synchronicity, the group agreed to concentrate on solo projects. As the years went by, the band members, particularly Sting, increasingly dismissed the possibility of reforming. In 2007, however, the band reformed and announced a world tour.
In September 1981, Sting made his first live solo appearance, performing on all four nights of the fourth Amnesty International benefit The Secret Policeman's Other Ball at the invitation of producer Martin Lewis. He performed solo versions of "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle", playing the guitar. He also led an all-star band (dubbed "The Secret Police") on his own arrangement of Bob Dylan's, "I Shall Be Released". The band and chorus included Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, all of whom (except Beck) later worked together on Live Aid. His performances were featured prominently in the album and movie of the show and drew Sting major critical attention. Sumner's participation in The Secret Policeman's Other Ball was the beginning of his growing involvement in raising money and consciousness for political and social causes. In 1982 he released a solo single, Spread a Little Happiness from the film version of the Dennis Potter television play Brimstone and Treacle. The song was a re-interpretation of a song from the 1920s musical Mr. Cinders by Vivian Ellis, and was a surprise Top 20 hit in the UK.
Sting's first solo album, 1985's The Dream of the Blue Turtles, featured a cast of accomplished jazz musicians, including Kenny Kirkland, Darryl Jones, Omar Hakim, and Branford Marsalis. It included the hit single "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free". The single included a fan favourite non-LP track titled "Another Day". The album also yielded the hits "Fortress Around Your Heart", "Russians", and "Love is the Seventh Wave". Within a year, it reached Triple Platinum. This album would help Sting garner a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. The film and video "Bring On The Night" documented the formation of the band and its first concert in France. Also in 1985, he sang the introduction and chorus to "Money for Nothing", a groundbreaking song by Dire Straits (because he reused his melody from The Police hit "Don't Stand So Close to Me" for his vocal parts, he was given co-writer status and receives royalties based on his somewhat minor performance. It is one of only two shared songwriting credits on any Dire Straits album). He performed this song with Dire Straits at the Live Aid Concert at Wembley Stadium. Sting also provided a short guest vocal performance on the Miles Davis album You're Under Arrest. He also sang backing vocals in Arcadia's single "The Promise" from their only album, "So Red The Rose". He also contributed a version of "Mack the Knife" to the Hal Willner-produced tribute album Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill. Sting released ...Nothing Like the Sun in 1987, including the hit songs " We'll Be Together", "Fragile", "Englishman in New York", and "Be Still My Beating Heart", dedicated to his recently-deceased mother. It eventually went Double Platinum. The song "The Secret Marriage" from this album was adapted from a melody by German composer Hanns Eisler, and "Englishman In New York" was about the eccentric writer Quentin Crisp. The album's title is taken from William Shakespeare's Sonnet #130. Soon thereafter, in February 1988, he released Nada Como el Sol, a selection of five songs from Sun sung (by Sting himself) in Spanish and Portuguese. Sting was also involved in two other recordings in the late 1980s, the first in 1987 with noted jazz arranger Gil Evans who placed Sting in a big band setting for a live album of Sting's songs (the CD was not released in the U.S.), and the second on Frank Zappa's 1988 "Broadway The Hard Way" album, where Sting performs an unusual arrangement of "Murder By Numbers", set to the tune "Stolen Moments" by jazz composer Oliver Nelson, and "dedicated" to fundamentalist evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. October 1988 saw the release of Igor Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale with the London Sinfonietta conducted by Kent Nagano. It featured Vanessa Redgrave, Sir Ian McKellen and Sting in the role of the soldier.
Sting's 1991 album The Soul Cages was dedicated to his recently deceased father and included the Top 10 song "All this Time" and the Grammy-winning "Soul Cages". The album eventually went Platinum. The following year, he married Trudie Styler and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in music from Northumbria University. In 1993, he released the album Ten Summoner's Tales, which went Triple Platinum in just over a year. Ten Summoner's Tales was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 1993 and nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1994. The title is wordplay on his surname, Sumner and Geoffrey Chaucer's classic The Canterbury Tales The single, "Fields of Gold" had moderate success on radio airways. Concurrent video albums were released to support "Soul Cages" (a live concert) and "Ten Summoner's Tales" (recorded during the recording sessions for the album). In May 1993, Sting released a cover of his own classic Police song from the Ghost in the Machine album, "Demolition Man" for the Demolition Man film. Sting reached a pinnacle of success in 1994. Together with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart, they performed the chart-topping song "All For Love" from the film The Three Musketeers. The song stayed at the top of the U.S. charts for five weeks and went Platinum; it is to date Sting's only song from his post-Police career to top the U.S. charts. In February, he won two more Grammy Awards and was nominated for three more. The Berklee College of Music gave him his second honorary doctorate of music degree in May. In November, he released a greatest hits compilation called Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting, which eventually was certified Double Platinum. Sting's 1996 album, Mercury Falling debuted strongly with the single Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot, but it dropped quickly on the charts. Yet, he reached the Top 40 with two singles the same year with You Still Touch Me (June) and "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" (December) (which became a country music hit the next year in a version recorded with American country singer Toby Keith). During this period, Sting was also recording music for the upcoming Disney film Kingdom of the Sun, which went on to be reworked into The Emperor's New Groove. The film went through drastic overhauls and plot changes, many of which were documented by Sting's wife, Trudie Styler. She captured the moment he was called by Disney who then informed him that his songs would not be used in the final film. The story was put into a final product: The Sweatbox, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Disney currently holds the rights to the film and will not grant its release. That same year Sting also released a little-known CD-ROM called All This Time, which was well ahead of its time in providing music, commentary and custom computer features describing Sting and his music from his perspective. Also in 1996, Sting provided some vocals for the Tina Turner single On Silent Wings as a part of her Wildest Dreams album, this peaked at #13 in the UK. Sting has also co-operated with Greek popular singer George Dalaras, giving a common concert in Athens. "Moonlight," a rare jazz performance by Sting for the 1995 remake of Sabrina, written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and John Williams, was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.
The Emperor's New Groove soundtrack was released with complete songs from the previous version of the film, which included Rascal Flatts and Shawn Colvin. This is seen by many as a move on Disney's part to soothe the relationship with Sting and to keep open the door for future projects. The final single used to promote the film was "My Funny Friend and Me". Sting's September 1999 album Brand New Day included the Top 40 hits "Brand New Day" and "Desert Rose". The album went Triple Platinum by January 2001. In 2000, he won Grammy Awards for Brand New Day and the song of the same name. At the awards ceremony, he performed "Desert Rose" with his collaborator on the album version, Cheb Mami. For his performance, the Arab-American Institute Foundation gave him the Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Award. However, Sting was criticised for appearing in a Jaguar advertisement using "Desert Rose" as its backing track, particularly as he was a notable environmentalist. In February 2001 he won another Grammy. His song "After The Rain Has Fallen" made it into the Top 40. His next project was to record a live album at his Tuscan villa, which was to be released as a CD and DVD, as well as being simulcast in its entirety on the internet. The CD and DVD were to be entitled "On such a night" and was intended to feature re-workings of Sting favourites such as "Roxanne" and "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free." The concert, however, was scheduled for September 11, 2001 and due to the terrorist attacks in America that day, the project was altered in various ways. The webcast was shut down after one song (a reworked version of "Fragile"), after which Sting let it be up to the audience whether or not to continue with the show. Eventually they decided to go through with the concert, and the resultant album and DVD was released in November under a different title, "...All This Time". Both are dedicated "to all those who lost their lives on that day." He performed a special arrangement of "Fragile" with Yo-Yo Ma and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 2002 Sting won a Golden Globe Award and in June, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In the summer, Sting was awarded the honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 2003 he released Sacred Love, a studio album featuring collaborations with hip-hop artist Mary J. Blige and sitar maestro Anoushka Shankar. He and Blige won a Grammy for their duet, "Whenever I Say Your Name." The album did not have the hit singles like his previous releases. The first single, "Send Your Love" reached only #30 and reviews were mixed. However, the album did reach platinum status by January 2004. His autobiography Broken Music was published in October. Sting embarked on a Sacred Love tour in 2004 with performances by Annie Lennox. Sting went on the Broken Music tour, touring smaller venues, with a four piece band starting in Los Angeles on 28 March 2005 and ending this "College Tour" on 14 May 2005. Sting appears as a guest on the 2005 Monkey Business (album) CD by American hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas, adding vocals to the track "Union" which makes heavy use of samples from his Englishman in New York. Continuing with his involvement in Live Aid, he appeared at Live 8 in July 2005. During 2006, Sting collaborated with Roberto Livi in producing a Spanish language version of his cult classic "Fragile" entitled "Fragilidad" on the album "Rhythms Del Mundo" by Latino recording legends "The Buena Vista Sound" (previously known as the Buena Vista Social Club) available via www.apeuk.org. In October 2006, Sting released an album, to mixed reviews, entitled Songs from the Labyrinth featuring the music of John Dowland (an Elizabethan-era composer) and accompaniment from Bosnian lute player Edin Karamazov. As a part of the promotion of this album, he appeared on the fifth episode of Studio 60 during which he performed a segment of Dowland's "Come Again" as well as his own "Fields of Gold" in the arrangement for voice and two archlutes. Reports surfaced in early 2007 that Sting would reunite with his former Police bandmates for a 30th anniversary tour. These rumours were confirmed by posts on the popular fanzine Stingus and on various other newswebsites such as De Standaard, Yahoo! etc. In May 2007, Deutsche Grammophon releases the opera Welcome to the Voice composer Steve Nieve), with Sting portraying the main character, Dyonisos.
On February 11, 2007, Sting reunited with the other members of the Police as the introductory act for the 2007 Grammy Awards, singing "Roxanne", and subsequently announced The Police Reunion Tour, the first concert of which was held in Vancouver on May 28 in front of 22,000 fans at one of two nearly sold-out concerts. The Police will be on tour for approximately a year, beginning with North America and eventually crossing over to Europe, South America, Australia & New Zealand and Japan. In 2007 he recorded a song called "Power's Out" with Nicole Scherzinger (lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls) the song is featured on her debut album Her Name Is Nicole which she is prepared to release in the beginning of 2008. On February 1, 2008, "Power's Out" was added on Nicole's official website and now "Power's Out" will be the official second single off Her Name Is Nicole.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Official Homepage: www.sting.com
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