Black Concert: Leela James Live in Detroit Wednesday 4-19!
Details: Leela James, Daley
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”.
James’ debut album, 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.
In the lyrics to the album’s lead single, “Music”, James laments the current state of contemporary popular music. She condemns the glorification of materialism and misogyny that has often been attributed to the lyrical content of contemporary R&B and hip hop songs while pleading for the return of the artistry, dedication, and sincerity displayed by musicians of earlier decades.
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, Kanye West and Wyclef Jean. Leela 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 the Moby 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 #7. Speaking in May 2010 to UK soul writer Pete Lewis of Blues & Soul, she stated: “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.”
On July 8, 2014, Leela James released her fifth studio album, Fall For You. The album’s first two singles, “Say That” feat. Anthony Hamilton and “Fall For You” both reached Top 15 on the Billboard Urban AC charts, with “Fall For You” reaching #12. Ms. James supported her album with tours nationwide, including performances at Essence Music Festival, Arizona Jazz Fest, San Diego Jazz Fest, Capitol Jazz Fest, and more.
Party All Night
Let’s Do Good Time
Who’s Gonna Love You More
It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World
Fall for You
Tell Me You Love Me
Don’t Speak / Killing Me Softly
Play VideoSet Me Free
2005 A Change Is Gonna Come
2009 Let’s Do It Again
2010 My Soul
2012 Loving You More… In The Spirit Of Etta James
2014 Fall For You
2017 Did It for Love
TV One reality show R&B Divas: Los Angeles Season 2 2014
TV One reality show R&B Divas: Los Angeles Season 3 2015