For more than a quarter century, Ralph MacDonald has stood at the forefront of traditional and contemporary music leaving his indelible mark on nearly every genre of melody and rhythm. Ralph MacDonald was literally born into music. His father was MacBeth The Great, a popular calypsonian and bandleader during the 1940s and '50s. Seated squarely on his father's lap in the West Indian and Latin cultural citadels of the Harlem Renaissance, MacDonald began his early childhood education in music and live performance.
At seventeen, MacDonald became the percussionist for famed songster Harry Belafonte and began a musical relationship with him that would last nearly a decade. During that time, MacDonald wrote an album of songs for Belafonte entitled Calypso Carnival.
In 1971, MacDonald had begun working with Roberta Flack and during a recording session, he played a sampling of his material for Roberta. She fell in love with one of the tunes that MacDonald had originally intended to give to The Fifth Dimension. They never got a chance to hear it since Roberta claimed it for her new album and teamed up with Donny Hathaway to record the very first version of a song that would later be covered by more than two hundred different artists in over thirty languages. The song, "Where Is The Love," sold over ten million copies and gave MacDonald his first Grammy as a writer.
In all, Ralph MacDonald has played percussion on nearly a dozen Grammy Award winners including Carly Simon and James Taylor's "Mockingbird," Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Graceland," Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are," Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly," George Benson's "Breezin'," Bette Midler's "Do You Want To Dance," Diana Ross' "Mirror, Mirror" and, of course, "Winelight." MacDonald also won a Grammy for his performance on Bob James' musical theme for the television sitcom classic "Taxi" and as a writer on The Winan's version of "Tradewinds." For ten consecutive years, 1979 through 1988, MacDonald won the "Most Valuable Player Of The Year" award for percussion from NARAS, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.