Leela James has a voice beyond her years and is hailed by critics as a soul revival. She includes artists such as James Brown, Roberta Flack, Toni Braxton, Mavis Staples, Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway as influences while her vocal abilities and tones are often likened to Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.
Leela James is one of the few southern soul singers who can still achieve a hit today. Her most recent example, “Don’t Want You Back,” is an exercise in classic form — a handsome, raspy “good riddance” with a guitar that studiously recreates the sound of Hi Records. But the window-shaking drums updated that style enough to make it a Number One radio record.
James harnesses her vocal firepower for something more gnarled and abrasive on the Are You Ready EP, which debuted on April 12. Lead single “That Woman” is a vicious, extended crescendo: The singer and a three-piece rock group buck and crash and then retreat, only to return a moment later with redoubled vigor.
She has received two prestigious award nominations, one from the NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Artist category and another from the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist.
With this elevated critical acclaim and notoriety, her third album ‘My Soul’ sold even better than its predecessor. It peaked at #37 on the US charts and broke the top 10 on the R & B chart.
After this Leela decided to release a cover album in tribute to one of her favourite artists, Etta James, and critics praised the beautiful re-imagination of the iconic singer’s most popular hits.
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