From the very first track on her 2005 debut album Leela James has captured the gritty, emotion-drenched essence of artists like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Mavis Staples, Marvin Gaye and has made it her mission to bring it all back – pushing the music forward with a fresh, contemporary perspective that remains faithful to the music’s deep and powerful roots.
My Soul, set for release on May 25, 2010, marks Leela James’ debut on Stax Records, a division of Concord Music Group. The move to Stax – the legendary home of some of the greatest soul and R&B artists of the past half-century – is a fitting destination for a vocalist who has committed herself to preserving the soul tradition.
In this exclusive interview with UrbanBridgez.com, Leela talks about her new album, her upcoming tour, being a commercial artist, she also breaks news on her new BET talk show and much more! Get updated on this amazing talent!
UrbanBridgez.com: First off when is the date for the new album “My Soul’, I keep hearing different things?
Leela James: Oh really, it’s May 25th! It will be in stores!
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell me about the new album and what do you want fans to get after they listen to it?
Leela James: The new album is on Stax records which I’m very excited about! The legendary soul label, now I’m able to mix my soul in. With the new album I want people to be exposed to a different side of me. on the album you’re going to hear a variety of different things. But that’s my soul and that’s where it comes from. Making sure people understand it, regardless if it’s a hip-hop sounding track or an R&B track or what is considered a “soul” track. It’s going to be soulful, because it’s me singing on it. Because I’m soulful & it’s my soul!
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of the people you worked with?
Leela James: Some of the same artists and producers that I worked with last go round. I have a feature with Raheem DaVaugn on there, I also got Chucky Thompson, he produced a couple of tracks again. I got a host of new and upcoming producers. Sean & Kadis and Gerrard Baker produced the current single and another track. Carvin and Ivin, I got Ray from Dungeon Family. I’m very excited!
UrbanBridgez.com: I love the Tell Me You Love Me video, it’s very different and unique. What was the best part about shooting it?
Leela James: Thank you! And when they said it was a wrap, because it was a long day (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: Do you have any idea what the next single might be yet?
Leela James: No, not as of yet I don’t have any idea.
UrbanBridgez.com: When can fans expect to see you on on the road?
Leela James: I’ll be back on the road in a few weeks and then this summer. I know I have a few spot dates. Like Philly, Baltimore and Chicago and then I’ll be hitting it really hard over the summertime. So you just have to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, My Site, the whole nine to see where I’ll be!
UrbanBridgez.com: What major obstacle have you had to face in the music industry?
Leela James: Pretty much just trying to fit into a business and be commercial, when you’re really not considered that way. So just really just trying to crossover and be accepted for who I am!
UrbanBridgez.com: Who have you been listening to lately, as far as music?
Leela James: You know when I tell you, you’re gonna be like what? But yesterday I was just listening to Jodeci & K-Ci (laughs)! That old school Jodeci, I like that. I also been checking out Sade’s new joint!
UrbanBridgez.com: Outside of music, are you working on anything else you would like to share?
Leela James: Yeah I’m working on a new show for BET called, My Black is Beautiful! It’s a new talk show that I’ll be hosting along-side Tasha Smith and Alicia (last name un-audible). We’re going to be shooting a few episodes in about two weeks. We’re going to be discussing alot of topics, concerning black women! I’m very excited to be apart of that. And people will get the chance to see me in a different light. Hosting a talk show (laughs), imagine that!
UrbanBridgez.com: I’m looking forward to it! Finish this sentence, music is…
Leela James: Me! (laughs)
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Leela James: Yeah go out and get my album May 25th and call your radio stations and tell them to play the new single “Tell Me You Love Me.” And holla!