In a musical wasteland crowded with posers, gimmick peddlers and rump-shaking pop tarts, singer, songwriter and vocal arranger LeNora Jaye stands out like a luxuriant diamond amongst the ashes. Possessing a soul-sweetened voice that evokes the magic of the 70s & 80’s, LeNora’s original songs reconcile old skool R&B, street-wise funk and velvety Adult Contemporary pop, while her deep-felt lyrics capture the essence of modern femininity in all its wondrous complexity — independent yet nurturing, strong yet alluringly vulnerable, cautious, yet capable of wild-eyed impulsiveness. Formerly the lead female vocalist for the Black Rock Coalition band Rhythm Republik, LeNora has opened shows for the esteemed likes of Teena Marie, The Meters, Roger Troutman & Zapp and Roy Ayers, while her solo career has found her sharing stages with some of the classiest names in hip hop, pop and soul, including The Roots, Floetry, India.Arie, Amel Larrieux and others…Read more
Now, with the release of her independently produced solo debut album, the talented Ms. Jaye officially steps onto the world stage, with magnificent results. Featuring 16 original compositions and interludes, The Story is an answered prayer for the legions of doubters who thought they couldn’t write and sing ‘em like they used to. Assisted by a bevy of skilled co-producers including Steve Wallace, Thierry DeJean, Armand Tulumello (Astral22), indie-soul star Angela Johnson and Jonathan Lloyd & Douglas Glover (NewBlackMusic.Net), The Story heralds the arrival of a truly unique singer-songwriter. Asked if there is a theme to the album, LeNora contemplates for a moment, then replies matter-of-factly. “It’s a woman’s experience… a young urban woman’s experience.”
While The Story may chronicle the experience of a young woman, there’s no denying the album’s universal appeal. Discerning music lovers will relate to LeNora’s singular perspectives on life, love and sexual politics, not to mention her enviable ability to convey dignity without ever crossing over into finger-wagging preachiness. As its literary title suggests, The Story is an assemblage of revealing musical chapters authored by a truth-seeking artist. “I’m a pocket therapist,” LeNora says with a laugh. “I always want to get to the root cause, and I think that comes through in my songs.”
Indeed, LeNora’s straight-shooting approach to life is evident throughout The Story. On tracks like “So Right” and “Giving It Up,” she celebrates finding the trusting kind of love that restores her faith in romance. The sensuous “Taking Over” finds the singer bedeviled by passionate thoughts after encountering an old flame, while “Will You Love Me The Same” ponders the durability of a new relationship. On the album’s powerful title track, LeNora deals sensitively with the issue of single moms, deadbeat dads and the unintended heartbreak often left in their wakes.
It’s insightful lyricism aside, The Story is equally notable for its lush, organic sound; a righteous vibe LeNora and her accompanists achieved by keeping digitization to a minimum, while emphasizing meaningful songs and real-time vocal and instrumental performances. “Anyone who can work a sampler nowadays can consider themselves a producer, but that’s not me,” LeNora says. “I wanted live instruments on this CD, so I sought out co-producers who were musicians and instrumentalists. Every single producer on this album plays one or more instruments.”
Born and raised in the legendary Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, LeNora Jaye grew up in a household where she was exposed to everything from gospel, bebop and Motown, to opera, cabaret and even Broadway show tunes. As a featured vocalist for the funk-rock band Rhythm Republik, she performed at a host of venerable NYC venues including B.B. King’s, House of Blues, The Blue Note, S.O.B’s, Tramps, The Wetlands, CBGB’s, Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar and many others. A series of session jobs followed, including performances at the St. Lucia Jazzfest as a vocalist for saxophonist Robert Zi Taylor, as well as live performance vocals for Purpose Records artists Angela Johnson, flautist Monet and Anonka recording artist Lisala.
Launching her solo career at the turn of the millennium, LeNora became a favorite at clubs around her native New York environs. “I like my live show to feel like a party,” she says. “I like people to feel like they’re a part of the live performance, like they’re engaged to the point that they want to get up, grab the mic and sing off-key.”
With the long-awaited arrival of her solo debut album, fans can finally experience the performing magic of LeNora Jaye in their everyday lives. But for LeNora herself, the album symbolizes the realization of a lifelong dream. With its soul-stirring original songs and peerless vocals and performances, The Story marks the auspicious beginning of a recording career that promises to influence the shape of R&B to come.
“From the start, I always wanted to make sure that whatever I did was real and true to who I was,” LeNora says, earnestly. “That certainly applies to this record. I love these songs 100 percent, because I feel them 100 percent.”
00 – The Funky Weeks – Promo Trailer
01 – LeNora Jaye – Always Get Away (Astral22 Extended Mix)
02 – Angela Johnson feat. Marlon Saunders & LeNora Jaye – Wait On A Maybe
03 – LeNora Jaye – Shoo Fly Pie (Introducing…The Story)
04 – LeNora Jaye – So Right
05 – LeNora Jaye – You”re Not The One
Background music during the interview:
Donna Summer – On The Radio, The Meters – Cissy Strut, Angela Johnson – On My Way, Astral22 feat. LeNora Jaye – A Silent Prayer, LeNora Jaye – Don”t You Stop, LeNora Jaye – Giving It Up, LeNora Jaye – The Rain, LeNora Jaye – Always Get Away, LeNora Jaye – Giving It Up (Street Sounds Remix), Deniece Williams – If You Don”t Believe