(Photo by Devin Dehaven)
Undeniably stunning & always ready to apply her vocal skills on the mic, Ms. Leela James & Stax Records Presents “My Soul” for the ‘inner soul’ folks on May 25th, 2010! Terrill & The Urban Music Scene rolled out the Red Carpet & invited Ms. James to stop by for a visit – join us for a conversation about the making of the new project, the upcoming tour dates with Angie Stone, other insightful dialogue & much more!
TERRILL: The UrbanMusicScene.com is back at you! We have one of the best upcoming R&B songstress’ in the game. We are really excited to have for you guys this month – Miss Leela James – is in the house! What’s happening Miss James?
LEELA: I’m good, how are you?
TERRILL: We’re doing good. We’re getting ready to pop open your new album here. Of course
we know that “My Soul” is getting ready to come out May the 25th and it’s now on the Stax Record label. Talk to us about signing on to Stax Records for “My Soul.”
LEELA: Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing because I signed with Stax this last Summer of ‘09, and I’m so excited to be there. It’s such a legendary label. What a perfect marriage and to end up there after not being….not really receiving the kind of support before. My thing is that I needed to be now at Stax. It’s totally where the whole soul game is. I’m just happy!
TERRILL: You sound happy. You sound very happy! I tell you what: Stax does have the Good reputation for representing the truth behind that great R&B and soul music sound. In just looking at their extensive library. About “My Soul”: are all of these tracks originals?
TERRILL: Talk to us about some of the producers you have decided to go with on this album.
LEELA: Well, I worked with some of the best trained producers on this album that I worked with from, “A Change Is Gonna Come”. I also met some new producers. I worked with Chucky Chauncey on my first album & he did a few tracks on the new album. I worked in Atlanta down there with the Outkast people. Yes…. I just worked with some good folks and I’m pretty happy. Oh, Carvey Ivan did a couple of tracks and I had worked with him before on the first album, so I’m just excited!
TERRILL: What influences you? I mean, In playing back the album, what influences you to sing so soulful? What brings the truth out in you to be so compelling on this album?
LEELA: I think it just comes natural. I’m asked that quite often and it’s not something that I think about. It’s not an contrived sound, it’s just natural for me to sing. That’s just what I sound like I guess when I sing and the titles are just so fitting because it’s just my soul, ‘pure and simple’. Whatever meaning it gives, it’s going to be backed up by my soul, because my soul is my voice.
TERRILL: Wow. None of your music is playing into any gimmicky productions. It’s really straight up and strong.
LEELA: Thank you. Thank you.
TERRILL: Of course you’re going to be touring pretty soon to promote the new album correct?
TERRILL: Ok. One track off the album – you worked with another guy who has a big R&B future ahead of him, Mr. Raheem DeVaughn. What was it like to work with Raheem in the studio?
LEELA: Oh…we had a good time working on the song. It went by really smooth and quickly. We’ve known each other for some time, and been friends and always talk about getting into the studio, doing some type of collaboration. We were just never able to make schedules work. This go around I just happen to be in the D.C. area around the same time he was there. I called him and I was like ‘come through’ and he came through. We were pretty much in the studio all night and that’s what we came out with.
TERRILL: It was such a beautiful recording and we look forward to hearing it playback. I believe this track is called “Mr. Incredible, Miss Unforgettable”?
TERRILL: A sultry duet, that’s all right. Going back a little bit to your previous album, you had a track at one point that stood up for who you are as an artist and that is to put out, release and sing quality ballads – quality music. Not buying into the game of worldly aspects in music – materialism and whatever may have you. Are you still standing on the same anthem for this new album?
LEELA: Actually, I’m mean, I’m still staying true to what I believe is music and soulful to myself so I haven’t changed that at all.
TERRILL: That’s so cool, that’s ‘Downtown’. What are some of your biggest influences….. I mean who do you go back to as your musical influences when you get up there and sing? What you consider is inspiration to you when you grab that mic?
LEELA: I’m a huge fan of a lot of the Gospel artists. And just real soul figures. I admire Chaka Khan. And your Gladys Knights, and the Betty Wrights, and you know Aretha Franklin…your Tina Turner. I admire them. Diana Ross, and you know, they lived and they’ve experienced things, but they were still able to sing, and sing strong. Their music just cut through, so I mean I’m inspired by that kind of stuff.
TERRILL: We loved the new music video for “Tell Me You Loved Me”. What was it like to record, produce the video?
LEELA: Doing videos: with the director of the video, and he is an excellent director, we had a good time. We shot it in one day so there wasn’t too much time wasted. We did the best that we could. I tried to do the best that I could on the video and just have fun with it. And not really worry about what folks think. To think or thought what I should do, or what I should look like, or how I should come across. We wanted to do what we were feeling and have some fun with it and that’s all it is. That’s what we did and hopefully people will like it.
TERRILL: Our readers do, and they find it a refreshing video that is completely different from the norm, of what they’re not accustomed to seeing. It’s a completely different vibe all together and we really thought it is a Hot video.
Considering what we’re looking at today in terms of music artist, R&B artists today, is there anyone out there today that you’re diggin’? I mean other than the fact that Raheem DeVaughn came to work with you on one of your tracks, are there any other current or today’s music artists that you’re looking at now and are digging their vibe and music?
LEELA: Absolutely. I am in love with Maxwell’s album! I’m so excited that he decided to be back on the scene. I’m a big fan of Sade so yes, I mean there’s a lot of singers. I like the guy, the boy with soul, Robin Thicke.
TERRILL: Robin Thicke, yes.
LEELA: Um hum, yes.
TERRILL: Maxwell is definitely doing it and Sade is definitely coming back and doing her thing. And of course Leela you’re coming back in the game and bringing a new fresh approach to today’s new R&B music. I think its a complement to say that you’ve stayed consistent and it’s really a big blessing on your part.
LEELA: Thank you.
TERRILL: Many of our readers had a couple of questions to ask you. They wanted to know, if you don’t mind, but one of them wanted to know if you were single?
LEELA: Um, yeah (laughing)…
TERRILL: (LAUGHING) We’ll leave that one alone…!! (Still laughing)
Okay, and the other reader wanted to know – one of our readers, Gary Johnson, wanted to know if you have any person in mind that you would love to do a dream project/collaboration with. If there was any other, like, big artist – old or new – that you would love to collaborate (work with on a project), doing a track together?
LEELA: Yes….., Prince.
TERRILL: Really? Talk to us about that….
LEELA: I mean, I’m just thinking…you know, I like his soul, his funk, his rock (music) – all of the above, that he has all bottled up in that little body of his. I feel like I just want to be able to exchange just being in the studio with him at least one time and to see how he just creates. I think it would be awesome.
TERRILL: Well hey, guess what? It’s going to be in the interview so maybe he’ll peek in. You never know! Some wires might get crossed, and phone calls might get made. Some emails might get sent, and something might just happen! You never know!
LEELA: You never know…
TERRILL: Of course, again, you have a couple of upcoming dates with Angie Stone. Are you excited about that?
LEELA: Yes, that’s going to be fun! That’s based out in Baltimore, and Philadelphia and so it really should be fun.
TERRILL: It should be fun. Thank you so much for your time today. We look forward to“My Soul”, and of course we’re going to get that up on the site, get you up on the site! Is there anything that you would love to tell our readers out there?
LEELA: Yes, I just wanted to remind them to go out and get the album on the 25th (May), and get it legally you know. Support a sista. And also thank the local radio stations for playback in request for the single, “Tell Me You Love Me”. And it’s like ‘spread the word’ that I’m back in town and ya’ll support me, get on board.
TERRILL: We really appreciate your time today Miss James and congratulations on signing to Stax Records.
(Photo by Devin Dehaven)
LEELA: Thank you.
TERRILL: And again for another effort this year in“My Soul”. We Thank You, May God Bless You and will talk to you soon…
LEELA: Okay, bye-bye.
The new album, “My Soul” breaks onto the streets May 25th, 2010 and sold at all of your fine retailers, online stores & participating record stores still in business across the U.S. & The Globe!