Smooth jazz saxophonist André Ward was born and raised in Chicago. His first instrument, which he took up at age eight, was the snare drum. He later moved to trumpet and tenor saxophone before settling on alto saxophone and becoming sufficiently proficient to earn a music-performing scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Based in Boston, he played internationally and did session work for such artists as Freddie Jackson. He was signed to Orpheus Music and released his debut solo album, Feelin' You, in October 2001. It reached number four on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and also appeared on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. His second album, Steppin' Up, released in March 2004, was similarly successful.