- NAME: will.i.am
- OCCUPATION: Activist, Songwriter, Music Producer
- BIRTH DATE: March 15, 1975 (Age: 38)
- Did You Know?: will.i.am is the first artist to have a song ("Reach for the Stars") sent to Mars. It happened in conjunction with NASA's Curiosity Mars Space Lab, a youth education event.
- EDUCATION: Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Los Angeles, California
- Full Name: William J. Adams
- AKA: Will-1X
- AKA: Zuper Blahq
- AKA: will.i.am
- ZODIAC SIGN: Pisces
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Grammy Award winner will.i.am is one of the founding members of the Black Eyed Peas. He's also made a name for himself as a solo artist, producer and activist.
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Born on March 15, 1975, in Los Angeles, California, will.i.am is a hit-making master as a solo artist and as a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning group the Black Eyed Peas. The multi-talented singer has also excelled as a songwriter and producer. Outside of the music biz, will.i.am dabbles in fashion, acting, technology, business and social activism.
"I'm just a guy who is passionate about music, and people have gravitated to what I put out there."
Will.i.am was born William J. Adams on March 15, 1975, in Los Angeles, California. His mother, Debra, raised him alone after his father abandoned the family. Will.i.am grew up in a housing project, which he described to the Daily Beast as being "raised in the ghetto, on welfare, two minutes from homeless." Having music as an outlet helped him look beyond his bleak surroundings. While in high school, will.i.am met Allen Pineda (stage name: apl.de.ap). The two combined their hip-hip and breakdancing styles to form the rap group Atban Klann with several others. They were signed in 1992 to Eazy-E's Ruthless Records label.
In 1995, will.i.am renamed the group the Black Eyed Peas. Two years later, they made it to the radio with "Request Line," a collaboration with Macy Gray. After working with Gray, the band realized a feminine touch was missing, and singer Kim Hill temporarily joined the lineup before Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson became a permanent fixture. Her mighty vocals paved the way to stardom. Their 2003 album, Elephunk, soared thanks to the track "Where Is the Love," featuring Justin Timberlake. With will.i.am leading the charge as front man, producer and songwriter, more hits followed, including "I Gotta Feeling," "Boom Boom Pow" and "Let's Get It Started." By 2013, the foursome had sold 31 million albums worldwide and earned three Grammy Awards.
When not focused on the Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am has produced music for other established acts, like Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and even his bandmate Fergie, when she struck out on her own. Fergie's success prompted the producer to follow suit in 2007 with his own album, Songs About Girls. Three other individual albums followed, including the super popular #willpower in April 2013, including the duets "#ThatPOWER" with Justin Bieber, "Fall Down" with Miley Cyrus and "Scream & Shout" with Britney Spears.
Musician is not the only professional hat that will.i.am wears. There's acting as well, including a co-starring role with Hugh Jackman in the 2009 blockbuster X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He's also appeared in educational TV specials and served as a coach on the reality competition show The Voice UK. Will.i.am has also played in the fashion space, even taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. He's released several lines like EKOCYCLE, which incorporates recycled plastic bottles. Technology is yet another of his fortes: Will.i.am serves as a shareholder in Beats Electronics and as a director of creative innovation at Intel, and has put out his own line of camera accessories.
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African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
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