June 4, 1961
Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Eldra Patrick DeBarge was born the fifth of eight brothers and sixth of ten DeBarge family members. In 1972, newly divorced from her abusive husband, El's mother Etterlene moved her children from Detroit to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Like his siblings, El participated in the local church choir and was labeled a child prodigy thanks to his skills as a vocalist and a keyboardist and years of private study with music educator Ricky Callier. Later, he, Mark, Randy and Bunny formed DeBarge in 1979 (James joined three years later just before his high school graduation).