Sananda Francesco Maitreya (born Terence Trent Howard, March 15, 1962), better known by his former stage name Terence Trent D’Arby, is an American singer and songwriter who came to fame with his debut studio album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, released in July 1987, which included the singles “If You Let Me Stay“, “Wishing Well“, “Dance Little Sister” and “Sign Your Name“.
Terence Trent D’Arby was born Terence Trent Howard in Manhattan in 1962. His mother is Frances Howard, a gospel singer, teacher and counselor; she married Bishop James Benjamin Darby, who became his stepfather and raised him, hence “his last name changed and later he completed it with the apostrophe.” His biological father was a married man with Scots-Irish ancestry. He was known to childhood friends as Terry Darby. His family moved successively from New York to New Jersey, to Chicago, to Daytona Beach, and then settled in DeLand, Florida, north of Orlando.
He trained as a boxer in Orlando and in 1980 won the Florida Golden Gloves lightweight championship. He received an offer to attend boxing school in the United States Army, but he went to college instead. He enrolled at the University of Central Florida but quit a year later, enlisting in the U.S. Army. He was posted at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and then served in the 3rd Armored Division, near Frankfurt, West Germany. He was formally court-martialed and dishonorably discharged by the army in April 1983 after going absent without leave. While in West Germany, he also worked as a band leader with the band The Touch, releasing an album of material called Love On Time (1984). It was later re-issued in 1989 as Early Works after his worldwide success as a solo artist. In 1986, he left West Germany for London, where he briefly played with The Bojangles, after which he signed a solo recording deal.
D’Arby’s debut solo album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, released in July 1987, is his best-known commercial work. The album produced hits including “If You Let Me Stay“, “Wishing Well“, “Dance Little Sister“, and “Sign Your Name“.
He expressed a high opinion of his debut album, claiming that it was the most important album since the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper. The album earned him a Grammy Award in March 1988 in the category Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. In that same year, he earned a Soul Train Award nomination for Best New Artist.
His follow-up was the album Neither Fish Nor Flesh (1989).
It took four more years and a move to Los Angeles until his next album, Symphony or Damn (1993) was released. The record contained the singles “Delicate” and “She Kissed Me”. It peaked at No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart.
In 1995, D’Arby released Vibrator which was followed by a world tour.
During the 1990s, his relations with his record label Columbia Records became strained, eventually leading to his departure in 1996. He moved to Java Records for one year, during which he recorded Terence Trent D’Arby’s Solar Return, which was not released. In 1999, D’Arby collaborated with INXS to replace his friend, the late vocalist Michael Hutchence, so the band could play at the official opening of Stadium Australia, a major venue for the Sydney Olympics. In 2000, he bought back the rights to his unreleased album and left the record company as well as his management team, Lippman Entertainment.
He adopted a new name, Sananda Maitreya, which he has said relates to a series of dreams he had in 1995, though it does not have any religious affiliations, the name means ‘rebirth’ in Sanskrit. He legally changed his name six years later on October 4, 2001, explaining, “Terence Trent D’Arby was dead… he watched his suffering as he died a noble death. After intense pain I meditated for a new spirit, a new will, a new identity.”
In 2001, Maitreya moved back to Europe, resettling in Munich, Germany and starting his own independent record label, Treehouse Pub. The year also marked his first album release in six years, as the unreleased Terence Trent D’Arby’s Solar Return became the album Wildcard. The album was initially available for free through his website. It later gained a commercial release through a one-album distribution deal with Universal Music and then an independent release with his own record label.
In 2002, Maitreya moved to Milan, Italy, and began working on his sixth album, Angels & Vampires – Volume I. The songs were initially released through Weedshare by chapters, allowing the fans to get a glimpse of the work as it evolved. On July 29, 2005, the mastered album was finally released through his webshop in MP3 format and then became also available in CD format.
In July 2005, Maitreya started working on Angels & Vampires – Volume II. He released each chapter online as he finished recording the songs. On April 29, 2006, he released the finished album in his online shop. That was followed by the release of the 2-CD limited edition of Angels & Vampires at the end of 2007. In 2009, the album Nigor Mortis: A Critical Mass was released.
Since the beginning of his “Post Millennium Rock” era, he has been releasing new music through his website and various digital stores, regularly every 2 years. Most of the albums were recorded in Milan, his hometown since 2002. In 2015, he released a double album titled The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords.
Since the early stages of his music career Maitreya has written, composed, arranged and produced all his music himself. In April 2011 the live album Confessions of a Zooathaholic, which contains select performances of the Post Millennium Rock Tour 2010, was released in MP3 format.
His music has been included on several movie and television soundtracks, notably his version of the theme song of 1991’s Frankie and Johnny. One of his songs was featured prominently in the end credits of Beverly Hills Cop III, “Right Thing, Wrong Way”, which he wrote and produced with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Another of his songs, “What Shall I Do?”, was featured in an episode of the UPN television series Girlfriends. He sang the ending song, “Letting Go” in the 1996 film, The Fan, starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes.