Leela James
Leela James Leela James is a new force in urban soul music, bursting upon the world of R&B and neo-soul with her 2005 debut "A Change is Gonna Come" (Warner). Produced with the help of luminaries like Kanye West, Raphael Saadiq, Chucky Thompson, James Poyser, the album has thrust James into the national spotlight and drawn comparisons not only to neo-soul contemporaries like Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, but to divas for whom, a first name is enough to identify them: Aretha, Chaka, Dionne, Carla Thomas. And though it's easy to judge artists by their influences or peers, Leela James has built a massive following completely on her own; touring relentlessly and astounding her audiences with her voice, her music, her grace. And while many of her contemporaries have embraced minimal production and tomorrow's beats, James' music sounds like an extremely talented church band. Sacred music with secular themes: that there is the very definition of soul music.