Ever since I first heard artist, singer, songwriter, and soon to be reality T.V. star Leela James belt out a song I was hooked. James’ voice oozed a soulful and funky consistency that reminded me of more than a few of the best soul singers some decades ago. Her raw classic voice, when she first arrived on the music scene, was a welcome sound to my ears in 2005. Her first album A Change is Gonna Come was her own personal statement that her voice and her style of music (classic soul) was relevant and certainly need amid the pop music muck. In short, James was about the work of regenerating and maintaining classic American soul.
A few weeks ago, after reading one of my posts, a friend of mine (A.K.A. my soul brotha from anotha motha like no otha) asked me if I listened to Leela James as her music is a new discovery for him. I proclaimed in the affirmative and was immediately flooded with the memory of her music. Of course I binged on her music for the next few days.
Listening to James I was reminded of her determination to preserve soul music. She sings with a feeling and sincerity and a mission to make good music. She carries with her the vocal and attitudinal influence of luminaries such as Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, and Mavis Staples to contemporary artists such as Jill Scott, Ledisi, Musiq, and Anthony Hamilton. James’ mission can be heard on all her albums from A Change is Gonna Come (her statement piece) to Let’s Do It Again (2009) (a celebration of soul and a little funk music of the 70s), to My Soul (2010) (her highest charting album), to finally Loving You More . . . In The Spirit of Etta James (2012) (which she dedicated to the memory of Etta James and her music).
Today Leela James is hard at work recording good music. At the moment James is working on a new album and has recently released a duet with fellow soul artist Anthony Hamilton called “Say That” and “Fall For You”-a nice soulful ballad that trumps anything you heard on the radio lately. [Listen Below]
Do yourself a favor and add Leela James to your iPod and binge on some excellent heartfelt soul . . . you will thank me later!