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Leela James: In The Spirit of Etta

Feb 1, 2013 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Feb 1, 2013 - Feb 2, 2013
Feb 2, 2013 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Feb 2, 2013 - Feb 3, 2013

As one of the pre-eminent soul singers of her generation, Leela James has thrilled audiences around the world with her high-energy performances, which deliver her highly personal take on classic soul music. Few of Leela’s fans know that her last name is not really "James" and many have thought that she was the granddaughter of Etta James. The fact is that she adopted that performing name as a new artist because, since the time she was little, older folks have told her that she sounded like Etta James. Leela’s sound, along with her wild, passionate and let-it-all-hang-performances on stage have further sparked comparisons to Etta’s over-the-top style. Unlike many of the current R&B singers on the scene, Leela is one of a small handful with an original sound and vocal style. Even when singing on a hip-hop-inflected track, she sounds like an "old soul." And, like Etta, Leela's sensibility spills over from R&B, blues, and hip-hop (She’s collaborated with everyone from Kanye West to Pete Rock) to rock (as her gospelized version of Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is" demonstrated), gospel, jazz (as with her duet recording with Ray Charles on "Compared To What") and even electronica (her guest vocal on Moby's Wait For Me album in 2009). 

In short, Leela James is this generation's embodiment of Etta James.  So it makes perfect sense that when the legendary Etta James passed away in February of this year, Leela would be the one to celebrate and perpetuate her legacy by recording Loving You More…In The Spirit of Etta James (Shanachie/2012), a powerful recording featuring Leela's often quite contemporary take of nine songs associated with Etta and two new songs in the spirit of Etta.  Produced in Nashville by GRAMMY-winning producers Shannon Sanders and Drew Ramsey (India.Arie, Jonny Lang, John Legend), the album is an organic mix of classic soul sounds and current production techniques that captures and extends the spirit of one of the great vocalists of the past 60 years. More.

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