Howard was born September 15, 1956 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the late 1970s, he began touring with Grover Washington, Jr., who was one of his idols. In the early 1980s, Howard released his first and second studio albums, Asphalt Gardens and Steppin' Out. Both albums were well received and ranked high on the Billboard magazine jazz album charts at number 25 and 9, respectively. By 1985, Howard's third album, Dancing in the Sun, had scaled the Billboard Jazz Album chart to number 1. Each of his next three albums, Love Will Follow, A Nice Place to Be and Reflections would also reach this height in the Jazz Album chart. After the success of Dancing in the Sun, Howard left the label GRP Records in order to join MCA through the 1988 release of Reflections. However, he returned to GRP Records in 1990 and released Love Will Follow in 1991. He stayed with GRP until his untimely death of lymphoma on March 22, 1998.