New York-born Hispanic black singer Maxwell (Rivera) pioneered the soul revival of the late 1990s with Urban Hang Suite (1996), a sumptuous Marvin Gaye-style romantic concept album composed by Leon Ware (a veteran songwriter and a collaborator of Marvin Gaye), and mostly arranged by veteran guitarist Wah Wah Watson and veteran multi-instrumentalist Stuart Matthewman. The album spawned the hit single Ascension.

After the disappointing Embrya (1998), on which he relied too much on himself instead of his collaborators, he was resurrected by R. Kelly, who composed the hit single Fortunate for him.

After a long hiatus, Maxwell returned with BLACKsummers'night (2009), the first of a trilogy, containing Simply Beautiful and Pretty Things.