Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2, 1983: R&B and soul singer-songwriter Leela James is 39-years-old today.

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Born June 2, 1983 in Los Angeles, California, Leyla, James was surrounded by music from a very early age – much of it from the soul, R&B and gospel traditions that predated her by at least a couple decades. As a result, Leyla James' debut album, entitled A Change Is Gonna Come, released in June 2005,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, singing a "duet" 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.”

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 plays 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' third album My Soul - her debut release for the Stax label - was released on May 24, 2010, and debuted on the US Hip Hop/R&B chart at Number Seven.


For more about Leela, visit her Website at –


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