Natural Woman: A Night of Soul

Whitney. Cher. Adele. Aretha. There are those few legends who need only one name to identify them. Singer, songwriter and pianist Sheléa seems poised to enter that rarified atmosphere. She performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Stevie Wonder, a friend and mentor, plays the harmonica on her hit song, “Love Fell on Me,” the theme song for the Angela Bassett film, Jumping the Broom. Quincy Jones asked her to be the first vocalist at his jazz club at the Palazzo Versace Dubai. She has a sultry sound that blends traditional pop, jazz, R & B and soul with a contemporary edge to classics and a classic touch to contemporary pop standards.

Sheléa first began to think of music as a profession at Oakwood University, from which she received a degree in music with an emphasis on piano. She told that the college experience set her on her path. “That was my first time being immersed in music culture like that, with late nights in the studio, writing and producing,” she said. “That’s when I felt like, ‘I want to do this on my own.’”

Sheléa began her career as a songwriter/vocalist with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. She wrote and produced for Chanté Moore’s album, Love the Woman, and recorded vocals for soundtracks for Hotel Rwanda, Akeelah and the Bee and Be Cool. In 2008, she teamed up with the Grammy winning Take 6, singing “Someone to Watch over Me” for their Grammy-nominated album. Her debut album, Love Fell on Me, not only featured Stevie Wonder but had Brian McKnight and Narada Michael Walden on board, as well. It charted for more than 22 weeks on Billboard’s R & B lists.

While Sheléa had considerable success in R & B, she was noticed in other arenas and other genres. Her 2012 invitation to the white House was to honor Burt Bacharach and Hal David with the Gershwin Prize. She also performed at the Library of Congress for ASCAP’s “We Write the Songs.” During rehearsals, she impressed Alan and Marilyn Bergman, who wrote many of Barbra Streisand’s hits and her latest album, Pretty World: Through the Eyes of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, has songs picked for her by the duo. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2017 with a tribute to songwriter Jimmy Webb. Her range truly knows only one imperative: great songwriting.

Sheléa is an artist who believes in giving back. In 2012, she joined Herbie Hancock, Patti Austin, the South African Children’s Choir and others at the Kennedy Center for the UN International AIDS Conference. She is a staunch advocate for female and empowerment and as a member of The Recording Academy, has shared her insights with high school students on the value of music, the craft of songwriting, vocal technique and professional development.

You may not yet know her name, but you will. You have the chance to hear her perform live; don’t miss it.

Partial proceeds to benefit St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church