Keith Sweat is the son of hairdresser Juanita Sweat and factory worker Charles Crier. Charles died in 1973 and Juanita raised her five kids alone. Sweat earned a BS in communications from City College of New York. He worked as a night stock boy at Macy's and then a mailroom clerk at Paine Webber. In just four years he worked his way up to a lucrative brokerage assistant job on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Sweat worked for the commodities market in the New York Mercantile Exchange.Sweat sang at nightclubs throughout New York City until he was discovered and offered a recording contract with Elektra Records in 1987.He has two daughters, Keyshia (1990) and Keia (1992). He named his record label, Keia Entertainment, after his younger daughter. From 1992 until 2002, he was married to Real Housewives of Atlanta
co-star Lisa Wu Hartwell. With her, he had sons Jordan (1995) and Justin (1998).Sweat has full custody of all four of his children and is a single dad. He raised his kids in Atlanta, Georgia with the aid of his mother.1975–1984: with JamilahSweat started his musical career as a member of a Harlem band called "Jamilah" in 1975. With the help of Jamilah, Sweat was able to hone his craft as a lead singer by performing regionally throughout the tri-State area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The group was started by bassist Larry Peoples, guitarist Michael Samuels, and drummer Walter Bradley. Additional members of the group included Peter DaCosta (vocals), Joseph McGeachy (sax), Dwight Banks (trumpet), and Kenneth Varner (keyboards).
1984–1987: Stadium Records
After leaving the group in 1984 to begin a solo career, he sang at nightclubs throughout New York City and landed a chance to record for the independent label, Stadium Records. Sweat recorded only one tune for Stadium called "My Mind Is Made Up", which was their third ever release, but on Stadium's first release, he is credited as co-writer and co-producer of "You Are The One For Me", the last recording ever made by the group GQ. One of GQ's original members is his uncle, Keith "Sabu" Crier.
1987–1993: The New Jack Swing era
Later in 1987, Keith Sweat was discovered by Vincent Davis and offered a recording contract with his label, Vintertainment Records, which was founded in 1983 on the foundations of early Hip-Hop and otherwise best known for releasing Joeski Love's "Pee Wee Dance" in 1985. Vintertainment was distributed by Elektra Records from 1985 until it ceased operations in 1990, in which case Elektra opted to buy Keith's contract outright and have him record directly for the label.. On November 25, 1987, Sweat released his debut solo studio album Make It Last Forever
, which sold three million copies. The biggest hit from this album was the song that inaugurated the New Jack Swing era "I Want Her" (#1 R&B/#5 Pop), which was nominated for the 1989 Soul Train Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Song of the Year award, while the title track from the album hit #2 on the R&B charts. Sweat reached the charts again with his second album I'll Give All My Love to You
(1990) which hit #6 on the Billboard 200 chart. The singles released during this period included "(There You Go) Tellin' Me No Again" (from the film New Jack City
). He released his third album, Keep It Comin'
in 1991 which debuted in the top 20 of the album chart. This album, included the songs, "Why Me Baby" (featuring LL Cool J) and "Keep It Comin'". Sweat then moved from New York to Atlanta, where he founded the Keia Records label that would feature Silk & Kut Klose.
1994–2001: The Still In The Game era
Sweat released his fourth album Get Up on It
in the summer of 1994, and his self-titled fifth album in 1996. Both albums reached the top ten on the Billboard 200. The single co/produced and written by Eric McCaine "Twisted" featuring R&B group Kut Klose hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "Nobody" hit #3, which made them Sweat's biggest hits to date. The song "Just A Touch", with Traci Hale providing background vocals, has earned a regular spot on radio playlists. "Just A Touch" was a cover of the 1979 song "Just a Touch of Love" by Slave. Sweat's sixth album, Still in the Game
was released in 1998, hitting #6 on the Billboard 200, and #2 on the R&B/Hip Hop albums chart. It featured the singles "Come and Get With Me" (which featured Snoop Dogg) (#12 Hot 100) and "I'm Not Ready" (#16 Hot 100). Sweat's success on the charts started to diminish in 2000, when he released the album Didn't See Me Coming
. None of the singles from the album reached the top forty. They were moderate hits on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
2002–present: The Rebirth era
On August 13, 2002, Keith Sweat released his eighth album, Rebirth
. The single "One on One" reached #75 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #44 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. His 2008 album Just Me
fared better with its first single, "Love U Better (featuring Keyshia Cole)" being played on Urban radio stations for about a year before the album's release. Sweat is currently signed to Kedar Records and released his tenth studio album entitled Ridin' Solo
on June 22, 2010. The lead single taken from the album is "Test Drive" and featured label-mate Joe. Since 2007, Sweat has been the host of a nationally syndicated radio program based upon the Quiet storm format. The Keith Sweat Hotel
(known as The Quiet Storm with Keith Sweat
on WBLS in New York City) is syndicated through Premiere Radio Networks.
In 1992, Sweat discovered the group Silk, and helped craft their debut album, Lose Control
, which hit #7 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album's single "Freak Me" hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 1, 1993. In 1993, Sweat discovered the Atlanta based female R&B group Kut Klose. Sweat also produced the group's debut album Surrender
, which produced the their biggest hit single "I Like", peaking to #8 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. In the fall of 1997, Sweat discovered the group Ol' Skool and helped with their self-titled debut. He was on their biggest single, "Am I Dreaming," which featured R&B group Xscape.Sweat also formed the R&B supergroup LSG with Gerald Levert and Johnny Gill, and released their self-titled debut Levert.Sweat.Gill
in 1997. That album featured "My Body", which became a hit single. The album was certified double platinum and reached #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200.