Her soul is our soul. Singer Leela James heats up Soundcheck with a set of retro-inspired R&B that has earned the singer vocal comparisons to the likes of Aretha Franklin. We catch up with the L.A. songbird in San Francisco on the eve of her Stax Records debut, ‘My Soul.' Allow yourself to be formally introduced. Check out our exclusive performance with Leela - and go pick up a copy of ‘My Soul’ online and in Walmart stores nationwide!
-The Crew at Walmart Soundcheck
On Her Soul:
“The title is pretty self explanatory. I wrote all but three of the records, and the three of the records I didn’t write I co-wrote, so it was still a part of me. I was involved from the beginning to the end with the production of the record. This was definitely my soul; it wasn’t anyone else’s soul but mine!”
On The Studio Process:
“When I record I don’t really take myself too seriously. I don’t need a whole lot of people in the studio with me as long as I have a good engineer who knows what he’s doing. I pretty much know my way around the studio; I can do my own vocals and backgrounds. When I go into the studio I like everything to be cool and laid back - just make sure the equipment works and let’s go!”
On Her Influences:
“I listen to Rufus and Chaka Khan. I listen to Aretha. I listen to Betty Wright and Tina Turner, Shirley Caesar, Al Green. I listen to Run DMC, Salt-N-Pepa. I listen to a little bit of everything!”
On Retro Soul:
“Not taking anything away from the music that’s out today, but I really enjoy singers and singers with full, fat voices!”
On L.A. Beginnings:
“I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I’ve been singing since I was a very young person. I got serious when I was in high school. Actually, my English teacher suggested that I really take it seriously and look at it other than just being a hobby. He said I had something a little more than just ordinary. So that’s when I decided that maybe I could try something other than just going to work at a nine to five job…”
On The Biz:
“People will try and define you based on who they think you are or who they think you should be. You should have your own definition of self entering this business because it will eat you up and spit you out - just like that!”
Did You Know?
• She’s got soul. Leela was born and raised in Los Angeles, and she grew up listening to singers like James Cleveland, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, and Shirley Caesar. Says Leela: “There was definitely a lot of Al Green played in our house!”
• She already has two records under her belt. Leela made her debut with ‘A Change Is Gonna Come,’ an album inspired by an anthem for the civil rights movement.
• Her new single, ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ is an anthem of female empowerment. Explains Leela: “The title says it all. Even when a woman knows her man loves her, she still needs to hear him say it.”
• Her new album features some of the industry's hottest producers. Producers on ‘My Soul’ include Gerrard Baker (Toni Braxton, Billy Crawford), Carl “Chucky” Thompson, Kadis & Sean, and Carvin & Ivan.
• ‘My Soul’ is in stores now! Pick up a copy of the record online and in Walmart stores nationwide.