Maxwell was born in Brooklyn, New York. He is the son of a Haitian mother and Puerto Rican father. After losing his father at the age of three, Maxwell became religious. The Baptist church was his first performance venue. He began composing music at the age of 17 and eventually learned to play other instruments.
Maxwell started out performing in New York City clubs and gained notice after he recorded a demo tape and performed at small venues throughout New York City. He signed with Columbia records in 1994 and adopted his middle name as a moniker to protect the privacy of his family.
Urban Hang Suite was Maxwell's first album. The album was delayed and sales were slow in the beginning, but his second single "Ascension (Never Wonder)" hit gold and Urban Hang Suite went platinum, earning a Grammy nomination.Additionally, the unplugged version of "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever" earned him another Grammy nomination (for Best Male Pop Vocal). Maxwell's single, "Fortunate" on his second album, Embrya, became a huge success, ranking as the number one R&B hit of the year on the Billboard in 1999. Maxwell had another hit single, "Lifetime" on this third album.
He returned with his fourth studio album in 2009, BLACKsummers'night. The album's lead single, "Pretty Wings" topped the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Maxwell won a Grammy award in 2010 in the category of Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Pretty Wings." BLACKsummers'night also won Best R&B Album.
With a similar title to his previous album, in 2016 Maxwell released his fifth studio album blackSUMMERS'night. It is the second installment of a trilogy.
Sources: Billboard.com; Wikipedia.