Leela James was born June 2, 1983 in Los Angeles, California ; she is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter. James cites singers James Brown, Roberta Flack, Toni Braxton, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples, and Stevie Wonder as her influences. Her deep, rich, gritty vocals have drawn comparisons to Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Toni Braxton, and Tina Turner.
This girl can SAAAANNNNGGGG y’all!
James’ debut album, entitled A Change Is Gonna Come, was released on June 21, 2005. The album was conceived as a throwback to an earlier era of American soul music, building upon the legacy of 1960s and 1970s soul singers while incorporating elements of contemporary R&B, funk, and gospel.
James co-wrote most of the tracks on her debut album, two exceptions being her covers of the pop rock band No Doubt‘s 1996 hit “Don’t Speak” and the classic title song by Sam Cooke, for which the album is named. Notable collaborators on the album include Raphael Saadiq of the 1990s R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné!, Kanye West, and former Fugees member Wyclef Jean.
In 2004, James toured as an opening act for The Black Eyed Peas and Macy Gray. That same year, she was featured on hip hop producer, DJ, and emcee Pete Rock‘s album Soul Survivor II, providing vocals to the track “No Tears”. In 2005, she lent her voice to the posthumously released Ray Charles album Genius & Friends, duetting with the singer on the song “Compared to What”. Leela also guested on Robert Randolph and the Family Band‘s 2006 album Colorblind, lending her vocals to “Stronger”.
After parting ways with Warner Bros., James signed with the independent label Shanachie Records and released her second studio album on March 24, 2009, an all-cover set entitled Let’s Do It Again (the title being a homage to the 1975 soundtrack album of the same name by The Staple Singers).
In June 2009, she appeared on Moby’s new album “Wait for Me”, performing the vocal on “Walk with Me”.
James was quoted saying………
With this album I wanted to make sure that I showed all sides of me – in terms of variety in the music and in my vocal range – while at the same time making it clear that every song deeply came from my soul. Plus I also wanted to incorporate a little more hip hop this time, and infuse it with my traditional R&B – because I felt that. By making my beats edgier and harder-hitting, I’d show there was more to me than just doing ballads and things of that sort.”
In Summer 2010, she appeared on BET’s television series “My Black is Beautiful” as a co-host alongside of Tasha Smith, Kim Coles and Alesha Renee and now she is currently starring on the VH1 R&B Divas L.A. with co-stars, Chanté Moore, Claudette Ortiz, Cynthia “Lil’ Mo” Loving, Michel’le Toussaint and Chrisette Michele.
When asked by Essence Magazine what made her decide to be on R&B Divas L.A. she was quoted saying…………………
Well, clearly the industry has changed as far as how you are exposed. The platforms are just not what they used to be. So you have to think outside of the box and be more creative with marketing and branding and the opportunity presented itself. We kind of went back and forth. My team and I thought that it was a great platform for me to expand my audience and get them to come into my world of Leela James and the new music that I have because I’ve been around for a minute and some people may not realize that and give people some insight into who I am because I’m really not new to this. Plus I’m actually a real rhythm and blues singer so I think I really fit what it’s supposed to represent. Now I’m not a diva as far as I don’t believe in being mean to people and all that kind of stuff or the negative stereotypes and titles. But I do feel like I’m entitled to respect.
Well Leela, I love you on R&B Divas L.A. you are definitely a diamond in the ruff with the voice of a soaring eagle. It didn’t take long for me to “Fall For You” that’s why you are the Fanzyflaminfro Neo-Soul Artist of the week!
And Goddesses if you don’t believe me when I say that………….
THIS GIRL CAN SAAAAANNNNGGG!
Click on the link below and check out her video from her new album “Fall For You” and you will see what I’m talking about when I say…………..
The song is also entited “Fall For You” from her 2014 Album ‘Fall For You”