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FutureStarrA Leela James
I think first, it’s important to know what work you’re uniquely gifted at. That can be anything – and it’s important to hold on to your unique skill.
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' 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." (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
The young songstress 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 whilst her vocal abilities and tones are often likened to Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. Her debut album 'A Change Is Gonna Come' was praised for its rich, gravelled tone incorporating traditional soul techniques with contemporary genres such as R & B and funk. It included collaborations with Raphael Saadiq and Kanye West.
That year she 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. (Source: www.songkick.com)