I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My father was Pentecostal and raised in Vieques, Puerto Rico. My mother grew up in a devout Baptist household in Haiti.
I began working with songwriter Leon Ware and noted guitarist Wah Wah Watson to record my debut Urban Hang Suite in the early 1990s. When the album was finished Columbia had doubts about its potential and shelved it for two years. The album was finally issued in 1996.
Heavily inspired by the sound of classic soul music, My Urban Hang Suite did not catch on with audiences until the release of my second single, "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)," which became a hit. My Urban Hang Suite sold over 2,000,000 copies, earning 2X platinum status, and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
On October 1996, I contributed the song "Segurança (Security)" to the AIDS-Benefit Album Red Hot + Rio produced by the Red Hot Organization.
On June 15, 1997, I taped an episode of the MTV concert series MTV Unplugged in New York City, performing my own songs as well as covers of songs by Kate Bush ("This Woman's Work") and Nine Inch Nails ("Closer"). I clashed with his label about the release of an album of my unplugged session, so only an EP  containing seven songs was released for sale.
My second studio album, Embrya, was released in 1998. The following year, I released "Fortunate", a single written by R. Kelly and featured on the soundtrack for the 1999 film Life. The single peaked at number one on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart. To date, "Fortunate" is my most successful single and was Billboard's number one R&B single of 1999.
Now, my third album, was released in 2001, becoming my first No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 album chart and Billboard's R&B album chart. It featured the hit singles "Lifetime" and a studio version of "This Woman's Work", the Kate Bush song I covered during my 1997 MTV Unplugged set.
I appeared on the 2008 BET Awards, where I performed the song "Simply Beautiful" in a tribute to Al Green.
After taking several years off, I released my latest album BLACKsummers'night on July 7, 2009. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Albums Top 200 chart, my second album to receive that ranking. I said my reason for leaving the music industry for such a long period was "to just to take time off. The music industry has so much competition and there was no rush for me." I performed my hit single "Pretty Wings" at the 2009 BET Awards. An audio clip of the song "Pretty Wings" from BLACK was featured on my Myspace page in spring 2008. The full single made its world premier on the Tom Joyner Morning Show on April 28, 2009, after the New School/Old School Remix by Steve "Silk" Hurley. "Pretty Wings" is also sold as a digital download on iTunes. In October 2009 — to coincide with my autumn European tour, which included dates in London and Manchester — "Bad Habits" became the album's first UK single.
I received six nominations for the 2010 Grammy Awards, including "Best R&B Album" for BLACKsummers'night and "Best Male R&B Vocal Performance" for "Pretty Wings. "Pretty Wings" was nominated for the "Song of the Year" which was written by me under my publishing moniker Musze.
And I am Maxwell...