ARIF MARDIN BIOGRAPHY
One look at Arif Mardins discography merits his status among the 20th centurys most important producers. From The Young Rascals" 1965 #1 hit "Good Lovin" to Bette Midlers 1989 #1 and Record Of The Year, "Wind Beneath My Wings" to his most recent work with Norah Jones, which resulted in Grammies for Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year, Arif Mardin has transcended genres and contributed to many of contemporary musics most brilliant works.
Over the past 40 years, Arif has worked with many of the most illustrious artists in the history of contemporary music including: Average White Band, the Bee Gees, Judy Collins, Phil Collins, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Hall & Oates, Donny Hathaway, Jewel, Chaka Khan, Melissa Manchester, Bette Midler, Modern Jazz Quartet, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Carly Simon, Dusty Springfield, Barbra Streisand and many more.
Born in 1932 in Istanbul, Turkey, Arif Mardin graduated from Istanbul University in Economics and studied at the London School of Economics. Although Arif is a self-professed jazz fanatic, as well as an accomplished orchestrator/arranger, he never intended to pursue a career in music. However, in 1956 meeting jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and young arranger Quincy Jones proved to be a stroke of fate. This led to his being the first recipient of the Quincy Jones Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
In 1958 Arif and his wife, Latife left Istanbul for Boston. After graduating in 1961, he taught at Berklee for one year and moved to New York to try his luck in the big city. Arif was eventually made a trustee of the school and awarded an honorary doctorate.
Mardin began his career at Atlantic Records in 1963 as an assistant to the legendary jazz enthusiast and founder, Nesuhi Ertegun. He rose through the ranks quickly, becoming studio manager, label house producer and arranger. In 1969, he became a Vice President and subsequently served as Senior Vice President until May 2001. Arif worked closely on many projects with founder Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, two legends who were responsible for establishing the "Atlantic Sound". His collaborations with the Bee Gees led to the smash hit "Jive Talkin." Arifs chart-toppers also include the #1 singles "Pick Up The Pieces" by Average White Band, "Against All Odds" and "Separate Lives" (a duet with Marilyn Martin) by Phil Collins, "I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan. In 1974 Arif composed and arranged the music for Khalil Gibrans book, The Prophet, recited by the late Richard Harris.
In his more than 40-year career, Arif has collected over 40 gold and platinum albums, over 15 Grammy nominations and eleven Grammy awards. In 1990, Mardin was inducted into the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame. In the same year Arif received the Turkish American Of The Year Award from the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. His speech was entered into the Congressional Record.
In 1992, Arif received the Shofar Of Peace Award from the Sephardic Community of Los Angeles, commemorating 500 years of peace and friendship between the Jewish and Turkish communities. In 1992 he also produced the music for Bette Midler's ABC-TV movie, Gypsy. Arif composed and arranged the music for Her Infinite Variety: Women Of Shakespeare recited by the world renowned great and late stage actress Irene Worth, cd released in 1993. In 1996, Arif earned his sixth Grammy for his production of the Original Broadway Cast Album of Smokey Joes Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller. The following year he received a Grammy nomination for the platinum album, The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Rent. In December 1997, Arif was one of the recipients of the NARAS Heroes Award presented by Atlantic Records Ahmet Ertegun.
Other projects in 1997 included Rodgers and Hammersteins Cinderella starring Whitney Houston and Brandy that aired on ABC television. Productions for Patti Labelle as well as Barbra Streisand's multi-platinum album Higher Ground were all in the same year. When asked about that year, Arif muses, "Barbra, Patti, Carly, Bette, Whitney made 1997 'My Year Of The Diva'."
In 1998, Arif served as Music Producer for the soundtrack for the Warner Brothers Motion Picture "Why Do Fools Fall In Love." Other projects included: productions for Bette Midlers Bathhouse Betty as well as on Diana Ross Everyday Is A New Day, plus the ABC-TV movie Double Platinum starring Miss Ross and Brandy. Mardin also produced two tracks on Barbra Streisands A Love Like Ours. Arif closed the millennium with Jewels Joy: A Holiday Collection, an album of Christmas and inspirational songs.
2001 continued to be a year of honors. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences bestowed upon Mardin a Trustees Award--a special merit lifetime achievement Grammy conferred on individuals for significant contributions other than performance. Mardin was named "Man of the Year" by the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation, a charitable organization that provides music therapy to autistic and other severely disabled children. He also received the "Ertegun Impact Award" as presented by the Boston Music Awards, and delivered the Keynote Address at the NEMO Conference.
Arif retired from Atlantic Records in May 2001. In September 2001, EMI Recorded Music North America entered into a unique multi-faceted arrangement with Arif Mardin (along with friend and partner Ian Ralfini). These industry legends now occupy the newly created positions of Co-Vice-Presidents and General Managers of the re-instituted Manhattan Records label.
Arif's first production project there was the very talented young singer-song writer-pianist Norah Jones' debut multi-platinum album, Come Away With Me, for Blue Note, EMI. For that achievement he also received a Grammy for Producer Of The Year, his first Grammy being the same award for the year 1975. His second project for the Manhattan label was the very talented stage star, Melissa Errico's debut album, "Blue Like That," a collection of classic and original pop songs. For Blue Note, in the same year Arif finished an album with the great jazz singer, Dianne Reeves.
Arif has been married to Latife who is a writer, for 46 years. Their son Joe is also a producer, arranger and Berklee graduate. Daughter Julie is an avant-garde artist-photographer.
Mardin composed his first opera, I Will Wait, and he is currently writing his memoirs.
In 2003, Mardin was honored with the Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart Award, presented by the Peace Meditation Group at the UN and goodwill advocate Sri Chinmoy.
Arif Mardin has made an indelible mark on the music industry. As stated by Universal Records CEO Doug Morris "When I entered the music business, I hoped to be able to work alongside people like Arif Mardin; creative, brilliant pioneers who, aside from their talent, convey an unmistakable presence. The consummate gentleman, Arif is someone whose joy for music makes it all worthwhile."