Gerald Maxwell Rivera, (born May 23, 1973), better known by his stage name Maxwell, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor. Maxwell's career began after he was bought a cheap keyboard, by 1991 he was performing on the New York City club scene. Following Maxwell's performances he began to draw interests and eventually signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1994. Maxwell's debut Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite (1996) was released after being shelved for nearly a year, due to record executives' doubts of its sales potential, despite an initial lack of mainstream interest, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite experienced a boost in sales and within a year it had sold one million copies.
In contrast to his Urban Hang Suite, Maxwell's following studio albums received comparably modest reviews from music critics. Despite selling one million copies, his second album Embrya (1998) received mixed criticism and experienced a critical backlash similar to that of other neo soul artists' work that broke their previous releases' successful formulas. Maxwell's third album Now (2001) became a platinum-seller and served as a return to the more straightforward romantic atmosphere of Urban Hang Suite. Following an eight-year sabbatical, Maxwell resurfaced with his fourth studio album BLACKsummers'night (2009), which was originally slated for 2004, serving as the first release of a trilogy of albums by Maxwell. The album received general acclaim from music critics.