At last, Leela James has arrived
Soulful and talented young singer Leela James may not be related to the late and great Etta James, but her spirit and legacy is definitely what motivates Leela to stand above the trends. Ebony Magazine recently spoke with James, who mixes in old school soul with lyrics that resonate with the youth of today.
The singer took the surname James in honor of the late Etta James, to whom she credits her strength in a male-dominated field. James is working on her third album titled "Loving You More...In the Spirit of Etta James." The R&B album is part tribute - she sings renditions of "At Last" and "I'd Rather Go Blind" - and part new music, the news outlet reports.
James is different not only in the way she sings, but in how she conducted herself in life before making music. The singer admitted she knew she had talent, but wanted to make sure she had a plan to fall back on before pursuing music full time.
"Even before I had a record deal, I had a [college] degree. I never put all my eggs in one basket. But music was always one career I knew I could count on, [though] I was interested in going to law school and being an entertainment attorney," James told the publication. "I worked in estate planning for a while and I tried out working in [entertainment law] and that was a little more exciting than estate planning, but ultimately, singing is definitely my dream job."
Since entering the music biz full-time, James has had tons of success. She sung with the great John Legend in South Africa, has opened for the Black Eyed Peas and was selected to duet with the late Ray Charles. Even with the success, James opened up about how she always tries to stay grounded, never buying into the hype of having to rock pricey women's urban clothes or own five cars.
"It’s been a great journey and it’s not over yet," James told the news source. "You know, in a business that’s male-dominated and driven by image, it’s easy to get caught up and go with what’s trendy, but that’s why I respect Etta James so much [and dedicated my latest album to her legacy] because she remained true to herself to the end and was focused on just being a true singer."
The Washington Post reports James is currently on tour and will be set to put out her new album later this year or in early 2013.
Fans of the soulful crooner can dress like her by purchasing the Baby Phat Sexy Lace Up Dress.