She is proof that R&B and soul is not dead. “Baby Etta” is what she is referred to. When asked if she declared that name, she chuckled and answered “No,” but advised me of how Etta James was an inspiration to her- as well as Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, Frankie Beverly and Al Green. She is Leela James.
A vocal legend who is six albums in, and still able to top the Billboard Charts. Leela recently reached Number 1 in the Urban and Contemporary category for her single “Don’t Want You Back.”
And, on November 13th, Leela, along with singer Tank, will kick off the Savage and Soul Tour in New York. As a Houston, Texas resident, Leela James wasn’t affected by Hurricane Harvey, but her community severely was, which lead to her giving a benefit concert for local residents. And, what a turn out it was. Performers included Leela and local artists in Houston.
Money was raised for people that needed help, it was awesome to have the actual community of Houston to come together, said Leela.
When she isn’t performing at a benefit concert in Texas, she is on tour. The Savage and Soul Tour is the third tour for Leela this year. And, as a new mom, I wondered how she maintains both life on the road and at home. “I’m still figuring it out as I go…(laughs), there’s no manual. I think that’s why God made women, women because he knew what we can handle.” -said Leela.
Early this year, Leela went on tour with Ledisi on Maxwell’s Summers tour. Leela and Tank will be in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Buckhead Theatre on November 26th. And of course, Leela predicts that Tank may take his shirt off for the crowd. The soulful singer states that we can expect good singing and good music for the Savage and Soul show. Known for her signature big, bold and beautiful curly hair, Leela says her style has evolved just as much as her personality. “I am not the same Leela I was a year ago, but I have evolved with just being a woman.” As a new mom, we know this to be very true. But, also as a mom, there are pros and cons to being on tour, especially when you have done three in one year.
What I love about being on tour, is allowing the fans to get to know me and connect.- Leela James
Leela continues to please the crowd, and exclaims how it feels good to feel appreciated at a time that R&B and Soul music isn’t the number one genre. When the crowd engages with Leela during performances, it gives her a sense of hope. But, of course what she dislikes about touring is being away from her family.
In an industry where relevancy is usually hard for certain artists due to the evolution of social media and microwave careers, Leela has maintained relevancy in the R&B community. And, how she remains so relevant is so simple. Leela’s consistency and relevant status comes from staying true to herself as an artist, and as a person.
You can purchase tickets for the Savage x Soul Tour on Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Be sure to follow Leela on her journey on Instagram @leelajamesofficial.