Chicago-based singer/actor/songwriter/producer Marshall Titus grew up listening to music greats Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Prince. Titus, who started his music career in 1979, began singing with local bands, eventually doing background vocal work during live concerts and on recording sessions. In the '80s, he began putting out his own records and had dancefloor hits. As an actor, Titus appeared in numerous plays, winning a Joseph Jefferson Award for Dreamgirls, and in 1985 he appeared as a finalist on the nationally syndicated TV talent contest show Star Search. With his "ol' skool" sensibilities intact, Titus released Titus Vol. 1 on his own Mastersellers label. Calling his sound "universal sound music," Titus stretched past what he perceives to be the self-imposed boundaries of modern black pop music, though the singer applauds '90s artists Maxwell, Seal, and Des'ree.