Music 32

Ralph Lampkin Jr.

April 29, 1957 ~ June 24, 2023 (age 66) 66 Years Old


Music producer, vocalist and business owner Ralph Lampkin Jr. died June 24 of a heart attack.
He was 66.   Ralph was born April 29, 1957 in New York City where he lived with his parents Ralph Lampkin Sr. and Betty Jane Lampkin nee Rothschild and siblings Lisa, Mark and Craig. During Lampkin’s childhood, his parents made sure he and his siblings were exposed to the culture in New York City at the time, including going to the ballet, movies, musical performances and the theater. Lampkin took violin lessons as a child and also taught himself to play the piano.  Additionally, he started singing as a soloist in the Bronx borough wide chorus after the family moved there from Manhattan. The chorus performed in many venues, including Carnegie Hall.

When Ralph moved to Chicago he performed in venues Gentry and Davenports but soon found his greatest love of managing, producing and promoting talent. Falling in love with the band Panama and helping the Women of Panama with their songs. He did his first photo shoot with Jennifer Girard and brought the band there for their iconic session. Working closely with rising stars like Alexandra Billings and Pudgy on productions, performances and writing. He produced Billings' autobiographical show, "Before I Disappear", which received extensions in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Off-Broadway.  His connections to artists around the country was vast working with them to create shows and recordings. Ralph worked with singers and recording artists Spider Saloff, Joanie Pallatto, Audrey Morris, and Martha Lorin for over three decades producing shows for them in Chicago, New York and South Bend. He was meticulous in his producing of cabaret shows and was especially proud of the Spider Saloff Tribute to George Gershwin co-produced with Lynn Orman and tribute to Von Freeman at the Iridium in New York City produced by Ralph & Southport Records. The tribute concert featured Joanie Pallatto, Bradley Parker Sparrow, Jazz Master Sheila Jordan and Bill Nolte. Also his sold out show at the Apollo Theater in Chicago, a one man show featuring Hinton Battle. Being in the studio producing a song was his happy place and he penned, produced and promoted dozens of them with artists he loved including, Richard Knight, Michael McAssey, Ester Hana, Josie Falbo, Sasha Daltonn and so many more. His publicity skills were top of the line creating stories for Broadway World, Windy City Times, Cabaret Scenes and publications and broadcast programming throughout the country. Most recently he programmed for the Jim Masters Show providing top talent such as Melissa Manchester, Holle Thee Maxwell and Freyda Payne.  Lampkin Music Groups humanitarian work includes producing shows for many Aids organizations, Teen Living Programs, Chicago Children's Hospital, and many other causes close to his heart. 

He moved to South Bend to spend his life with his partner of 38 years Lawrence 'Beau' Bilenki. In South Bend Ralph was the receptionist and manager of Beaux Arts Hair Design Studio and Art Gallery which became Serendipity. Ralph also managed his partner Beau, a talented artist, painter, sculptor, ceramic artist and hair stylist.

Ralph was selfless. He gave his most precious resource, his time, to help so many people, not even thinking of himself. 

Ralph lived in all the artistic worlds, with musicians from the Jazz, R&B, Latin and Cabaret worlds, sculptors, painters, ceramic artists.


He co-produced the South Bend Jazz Festival and South Bend Music Festival and presented in venues such as Century Center and the Morris Civic Auditorium, The Palais Royal, and concert clubs Trio’s, Vegetable Buddies, and the Acorn Theatre.

He produced shows in New York at Weil Hall of Carnegie Hall, the Iridium, Don't Tell Mamas, 88's and Pangea.

He worked with the South Bend Civic Theater for years, producing shows, and doing set design and lighting. He was the President of Fire Arts Inc. for fifteen years.  

Ralph's creativity and guidance were always given joyously and unselfishly, being happy to remain in the background and let his artists and friends shine. 

"He gave his help selflessly for the love of art and people. He didn’t ask much money and many times didn’t ask for any money, he just wanted to help," said Danny Lerman. 

He managed and worked with saxophonist Danny Lerman for 30 years, and did publicity with Greg Pasenko’s Chicago record label Blu Jazz.

He put on songwriting workshops in South Bend and brought together artists for collaborations.

At the time of his sudden death Ralph was working on the promotion with vocalists/songwriters Award Winning Ann Hampton Calloway and Amanda McBroom's "Almost" written and performed by his good friends and colleagues Ann and Amanda. 

Most recently he did the promotion for "Lessons To Be Learned" written by Marsha Malamat recorded and performed by Melissa Manchester. 

His Lampkin Music Group is producing for the first time at the legendary Steppenwolf Theater on August 9th. Ralph was over the moon to be presenting critically acclaimed BARBARA AND AUSTIN SING STEVE AND OSCAR with Barbara Bleier, ensemble member Austin Pendelton and Musical Director/Accompanist Award winning Beckie Menzie.    

 "Ralph has brought so many of us together and has left us together. He was "the tie that binds" We must cherish our precious memories and find ways to honor and celebrate our Ralphie,"    - Sasha Daltonn

Zahoran Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.  Cremation has taken place, no services are scheduled.  Memorial contributions may be made to Ralph Lampkin Go Fund Me page.  To leave an online condolence, visit our website or our facebook page Zahoran Funeral Home.

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