Only once in an era does a young performer come along who is so dazzling, so captivating and so undeniable in their talent that they gather the gale force of the most respected icons in the business beneath their wings. Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Leigh Jones is that amazing once in a lifetime artist. Having made passionate believers and hands-on supporters out of both Motown Records founder Berry Gordy AND Stax Records maverick Al Bell, Leigh Jones is fortified to take on the international pop music marketplace with her powerful debut album, Music in My Soul (on Peak Records - a division of the Concord Music Group).
Destined to be heralded as possibly the most naturally soulful white female R&B singer since Teena Marie, Leigh (pronounced lee) has recorded an assured and semi-autobiographical gem of a debut. The 12-song album literally swings from the mission statement title track (complete with scat lines and lusciously layered backgrounds) to a contemporary spin on the DeBarge classic "All This Love" specially produced for her by smooth jazz giant Wayman Tisdale. Pop production great Walter Afanasieff (along with Clark Anderson) got behind Leigh with the bittersweet funk of "Freefall" while songwriting legend Bruce Fisher (composer of "You Are So Beautiful," among scores of other classics) worked with Leigh on nearly half of the album's songs. Fisher states, "Leigh Jones is a pleasure to work with, a delight to listen to and a joy to behold."
Compositionally, Leigh turns in a finger-snappin' piano jazz rave up titled "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" as well as the lowdown backbeat blues "I'm Leavin' You." And in what is the coup of the year, she inspired the legendary Berry Gordy to come out of retirement to produce the song "Cold in L.A.," an introspective meditation on the façade of phoniness that naïve hopefuls find when they first arrive in Hollywood. It's a story Leigh knows all to well as she has been diligently honing her chops and taking her knocks on the scene for a few years now.
The daughter of a prolific Hollywood session singer/former Berklee School of Music instructor and the graduate of a Los Angeles County High School for The Arts (Josh Groban was a classmate), Leigh Jones has been developing a steady buzz ever since she was taken under the wing of industry veteran Kerry Gordy. "I had a concept for an idea unique to the marketplace," he states. "I told my staff to find me a beautiful young girl who had soul at the very core of her being. They brought me over a 100 girls to audition, but when Leigh sat next to me - before she even opened her mouth - I knew she was the girl. And when I got her in the studio, she was even better than I could have imagined." After Leigh and Kerry matched wits on Billie Holiday's proverbial "God Bless the Child," they've been sworn and loyal partners in creative crime ever since.
"I've always known that I wanted to be a singer," says Leigh who first sang in public performing the Pointer Sisters' "American Music" at a first grade talent show. "I loved R&B from the very beginning. My family had a lot of jazz around the house. And my father worked closely with the great Clare Fischer, so we had lots of great musicians coming through our home. I'd accompany my dad to sessions, soaking up the vibe, and even got to sing on a Power Rangers clip." Leigh gravitated toward songwriting at a young age and has been working diligently at it ever since.
Leigh has held her own on the exclusive late night jam scene of the session musician elite at Studio City spots such as Cozy's, showcased all over Southern California from Hollywood's The Knitting Factory to Santa Monica's Temple Bar, shared stages with legends such as the Temptations and Thelma Houston, and opened for stars such as Brian McKnight and John Legend. That she is an artist with instincts beyond her young years is also evident in the jazzier standout Quiet Storm album tracks "Same Game" (on which - over muted trumpet, brushed drums and reverent organ - she warns a lover that while he's out creepin', she can do the same things, too) and the galvanizing "Words You Never Say" (an eleventh hour love confession of dreamy, celestial wizardry).
Inspired by a combination of Mariah Carey's dynamic vocal gifts, the jazz essence of Ella Fitzgerald, the boundary crossing sensibilities of both Nat and Natalie Cole, and the burning fire of Chaka Khan, Leigh Jones is a full-package prodigy of beauty, talent and drive. Billy Meshel, a key consultant on the project and the gentleman who assisted Clive Davis in the founding of Arista Records, states, "Leigh Jones' vocal instrument is fantastic! Her style is fluid, sexy and refreshing...unlike many of the generic songstresses of today. This young woman is a star!" Seconding that emotion, Kerry Gordy adds, "Leigh Jones has that ‘It' factor. She's cool, she's gorgeous and she's real. Leigh is incredibly talented - a singer's singer, a good songwriter and a producer's dream. I am privileged and proud that we are partners."
With Music in My Soul finally completed and its release eminent, Leigh can't wait to hit the road with her hand-picked band to share her music with the world and make believers out of more soul fans like she did with legendary former Stax Records President Al Bell.
Mr. Bell, who personally screened every song choice and performance of Leigh's before it made the album, observes, "Leigh Jones is an extremely talented and rare young singer who is uniquely gifted musically. She blends all of the elements of pop, R&B, Jazz and Blues, and brings them all masterfully into the ‘now.' Throughout my career I have never seen or heard of anyone like Leigh Jones. She's authentic and she can do it all!"