Raphael Saadiq has been on my radar since the first Tony! Toni! Toné! album, Who? I became a huge fan of the band. When Raphael, 45, began a solo career making albums and producing for a host of major artists, I kept a keen eye on whatever he did, hoping that one day our paths would cross musically. With the release of The Way I See It, I was blown away. It became my album of the year — a soul record of the highest quality. I phoned him to congratulate him and asked if he would consider playing at my annual AIDS Foundation Oscar party. He agreed, and his performance was brilliant. Immaculately dressed (a Saadiq trademark) and moving like the soul stars of old, he confirmed that great black music is alive and well and not just a string of hip-hop monotony. This year he played on my new record, The Diving Board. He contributed so much to the music, and we had a ball! His presence is already massive. It will only increase — and rightfully so.