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Album Preview: Leela James

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Stone hosts the Couch Sessions Podcast. Check out this week’s interview with Atlanta R&B artist Anthony David.

Leela James almost became the victim of numerous major record label mergers and acquisitions. Her new album, A Change is Gonna Come has been delayed for almost 2 years because of record industry reshuffling.

A Change is Gonna Come, gets its title from the 1964 socially charged civil rights anthem by Sam Cooke. In fact, Leela credits most of her style to the soul singers from back in the day, such as Gladys Knight, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and Chaka Kahn. Although this album sounds like it could have been born in the mid 70s, it features todays hottest producers, such as Raphael Saadiq, Wyclef Jean, and the ubiquitous Kanye West. Much credit also goes to James Poyser (of the famed Axis Music Studio) and Chucky Thompson as well for creating Leela’s silky sound.

On her first single, “Music,” this LA-based singer complains about the lack of creativity and the overly misogynistic lyrics on urban radio today. The lines, “We don’t sing no more,” and “All the Soul is Gone,” make frequent appearances in the chorus. Of course, this clichéd theme has been used too many times by too many underground artists to count, but even so, by the end of the track you will be singing Leela’s praises as well.

The rest of the album is a mix of soulful vocals and timeless lyrics, influenced by Leela’s love for hip hop and her Southern upbringing. Leela doesn’t have to revert to shakin’ her booty like Beyonce or flaunting her sexuality like Lil’ Kim to make waves. Instead, Ms. James will fit perfectly in your CD collection if you already like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Angie Stone.

Leela’s album, A Change is Gonna Come is in stores now, and she will be performing at the “Stone Cold” Picnic in Washington DC on July 30. More information on Leela can be found at her website.

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