Gerald Maxwell Rivera,(born May 23, 1973), better known by his stage name Maxwell, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor. Along with fellow musicians D’Angelo and Erykah Badu, Maxwell has been credited with helping to shape what has been termed the “neo soul” movement that rose to prominence during the late 1990s.
After receiving a low-cost Casio keyboard from a friend, the Brooklyn, New York-native began composing material at age 17. Raised in the borough’s East New York-section, Maxwell’s previous musical experience included his beginnings as a singer in the congregation of his Baptist church, which had become an integral part of his life after the death of his father in a plane crash. Already a fan of what he described as “jheri curl soul”, which was the trademark of early 1980s R&B acts such as Patrice Rushen, S.O.S.
Band and Rose Royce, Maxwell began to teach himself to play a variety of instruments.According to him, the R&B of the early 1980s contained “the perfect combination of computerized instrumentation with a live feel”, and that the genre’s dynamics later became lost due to the influence of hip hop on R&B. Despite facing ridicule from classmates for being shy and awkward, he progressed and continued to develop his musical abilities, and he also adopted the look of a more bohemian style outwardly in his clothing, growing long sideburns and letting his hair grow out wildly and combed in an extreme style, or sometimes putting his hair in long dreads.