She's the foundation of soul, compromising of traditional, classic, gospel music, Leela James comes from a time where soul music was truly alive and kicking. Being compared to the likes of legendary Aretha Franklin, Leela has had the pleasure of gracing the late Don Cornelius’s Soul Train stage. She released her ‘My Soul’ album on June 2010, which debuted on the US Hip Hop/R&B chart at Number Seven, and with each track baring her soul. With another album due to come out this summer, we chat to Leela James about the loss of Don Cornelius, the state of soul music and how she overcame ‘breaking out of a musical box.’
You're a traditional soulstress, but you still have the ability to create your own style, how do you achieve this?
I just believe in staying true to myself, and doing what works best for me and what comes natural, that's how I create my own style.
You met the Don Cornelius when you performed on Soul Train, could you tell us about that experience? Where were you and how do you feel when you heard about the news of his tragic death?
When I met Don Cornelius I was felt honoured to be in his presence and grace the Soul Train stage. I was driving when I heard of his death, and it deeply saddens me.
Are you happy with the state of soul music now?
I think the state of Soul Music is constantly evolving and holding on, so for that, I'm happy.
Have you done anything after 'My Soul"? Are you working on any other new projects?
I'm currently working on another album on Shanachie Records, slated to come out this summer.
You've said, in the past people tried to put you in a box, what do you mean by that? And how did you break out?
Sometimes people like for you sing only type of music, and that's what I mean by being put in a box.
Again, I just make music that's true to me and do what I comfortable with, and that's how I break out of any musical box.
Artist you would love to collaborate with?
There are so many artists’ I would love to work with, but one for sure is Prince.
What stimulates your soul?
Music and life stimulates my soul.