Maxwell: Maxwell is his middle name; he has chosen to keep his first and last name private out of safety for his family. He was born to a Black Puerto Rican father and a Black American mother. The loss of his father at the age of three in plane crash (he was returning to his native country for a visit), greatly impacted him as a person and as an artist. Maxwell first performed in a Baptist church, and was heavily inspired by the work of artists such as Marvin Gaye and Prince. Maxwell began his interest in music at the age of 17 by writing songs. He eventually got a record deal with Columbia Records in 1994 when he was 21 years old.