Natural WomanA Night of Soul
November 12 8:00 pm
With widespread comparison to the vocal expertise of legendary Whitney Houston, and the piano prowess of Alicia Keys, it’s no surprise that artist and actress, Sheléa (pronounced shuh-lay-yuh), has garnered co-signs from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Mary J.Blige, Missy Elliott, David Foster, Queen Latifah, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Quincy Jones, and more.
Blending traditional pop, jazz, R&B and soul, Sheléa brings a contemporary edge to classics, and a classic touch to contemporary pop standards. With years of making a name for herself as a vocal powerhouse, having performed twice at the White House; Library of Congress; Carnegie Hall; the Kennedy Center; and more, 2020 marked her acting debut as Dorinda Clark in The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel. The Lifetime biopic drew 2.7 million viewers and “was the strongest original movie for all television for 2020 across key demos including both broadcast and cable.” Based on the iconic Clark Sisters, the film recounts the story of the highest-selling female gospel group in history, and of their trailblazing mother, Mattie Moss Clark (Aunjanue Ellis). With the film as the top social trend across all television, Sheléa’s name was prominently found leading the charge.
Having been discovered to have an aptitude for vocal harmony at age 2, Sheléa was already writing songs on her first wooden piano for her sisters by age 4. She began piano lessons at age 7, and her musical talent was regularly on display at Bakersfield Southside Church before age 12. However, it wasn’t until Sheléa arrived at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama when she thought about making music for a living, after gaining her first recording studio experience singing with a short-lived girl group. Though her major changed, classical music steadfastly remained her minor, and she ultimately graduated with a B.A. in music, with an emphasis in piano.
With only local performances and recorded vocals on the theme song for Will & Jada Pinkett Smith’s, All of Us, under her belt, Sheléa’s first big break came via a connection with vocal sextet, Take 6, members of the tight-knit 7th Day Adventist Church Community. In 2008, she was featured on the group’s Grammy-nominated album, The Standard, singing the classic, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Stevie Wonder heard the recording and loved her voice so much that he invited her to visit him at his Wonderlove Studio. This meeting led to her having the opportunity to sing at his annual Christmas concert, “A House Full of Toys,” and later join him as a background vocalist on his “Songs In the Key of Life Revisited Tour.”
Following the tour, she went on to compose and perform the theme song, “Love Fell On Me”, for SONY’s Jumping the Broom (2011), starring Angela Bassett, and meanwhile, her own composition/recording “Can’t Play it Cool With You” (a jazzy ballad featuring trumpeter, Chuck Findley) was tapped for an episode of the CW superhero show, Black Lightning. Around the same time, Sheléa was also working as a songwriter/vocalist with legendary producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, followed by her writing and producing three songs for Chanté Moore’s Love the Woman, including the single, “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way.” Subsequently, she also co-wrote “I Fell In” (with Phil Galdston—composer of “Save the Best for Last”) for Vanessa Williams’ album, The Real Thing. In addition to writing for other artists, and recording vocals on major motion picture soundtracks such as Hotel Rwanda, Akeelah and the Bee , and Be Cool. Sheléa released her 2013 debut album, Love Fell On Me, featuring heavyweights Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, and Narada Michael Walden. Her single, “I’ll Never Let You Go”, hit #22 on the Billboard R&B charts and charted for 22+ weeks at its peak.
In 2016 Sheléa was invited by Rickey Minor to perform a set at Quincy Jones’ house for Gina Clayton-Johnson’s Essie Justice Group fundraiser. Following an unforgettable performance, she connected with Quincy and his team at Quincy Jones Productions, and was signed to his management roster shortly thereafter. She was then handpicked to be the inaugural artist to perform at Quincy’s first-ever music venue, Q’s Bar and Lounge, located in the Palazzo Versace Hotel, Dubai.
On top of creating original music, Sheléa has cemented her reputation as the go-to voice for legendary tribute concerts. With a resume and list of performance credits that are as staggering as they are multi-faceted, she has traveled internationally as a featured vocalist in “An Intimate Evening with David Foster” singing selections made famous by Natalie Cole (“Unforgettable”), Chaka Khan (“Through the Fire”), Whitney Houston (songs from “The Bodyguard” motion picture soundtrack), and Toni Braxton (“Unbreak My Heart”), as well as the power duet “Tell Him” on which she sang Barbra Streisand (giving her the nickname: “The Black Barbra”) with Pia Toscano singing Celine Dion.
Sheléa was initially invited to perform at the White House at the suggestion of Stevie Wonder to honor master songwriting team, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, with the Gershwin Prize singing the Dionne Warwick classic “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (a showstopper she reprised at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards and at David’s memorial service). She was asked to return for a second performance at the White House, before President Barack & First Lady Michele Obama (who led the room in a standing ovation) for “Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles,” singing “Night Time is the Right Time” with Anthony Hamilton.
Sheléa was also featured on the PBS-TV specia l Zoltan Maga: Live from Budapest with David Foster as a special guest of the Hungarian violinist, and in the fall of 2016, Sheléa appeared in HBO’s multi-Emmy-nominated film, All the Way, singing and acting as a funeral choir soloist, loosely based on the great Mahalia Jackson.
For five consecutive years, she has toured with saxophonist, Kirk Whalum, on his The Gospel According to Jazz Christmas shows, and is featured on his Grammy/NAACP Image Award-nominated, The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter IV. Furthermore, Sheléa sang the spiritual “Wade in the Water” at the Kennedy Center Honors, accompanying the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in tribute to choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, and at the Governor’s Ball, she sang the Diane Warren-penned World Humanitarian Day anthem, “I Was Here” (originally recorded by Beyoncé).
Sheléa made her Carnegie Hall debut performing “Shattered” in tribute to songwriting great, Jimmy Webb. Her tribute to Great American Songbook legends, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, became the impetus for her long-awaited third album, Pretty World: A Tribute to Alan and Marilyn Bergman. And with an invitation from The Recording Academy, she honored Tina Turner through a medley of “What’s Love Got to Do With It” / “Proud Mary” / “The Best” on the PBS special, A Grammy Salute to Music Legends. After performing on a variety of specials, 2019 brought forth Shelea’s very own PBS special, Quincy Jones Presents: Sheléa, in which she performed a variety of originals, mixed with everything from Aretha to Whitney Houston.
And most recently, Sheléa has been at the forefront of the Quincy Jones Tribute concerts at venues such as The O2 Arena in London; the AccorHotels Arena in Paris; and the legendary Stravinski Hall at Montreux Jazz Festival; singing Michael Jackson hits in honor of Quincy’s work on Off the Wall, Thriller, & Bad.
As a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Sheléa was an invited guest speaker at the “Grammy Museum Summer Sessions,” helping to educate high school students on the value of music, songwriting craft, vocal technique, and all-around professionalism. In addition to working with students and writing songs for kids, Sheléa is also an avid proponent for female empowerment. Most notably, she teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer/songwriter, Tena Clark, to sing the anthem “Break the Chain” for the global launch of “One Billion Rising,” headed by Eve Ensler and Taína Asili. Sheléa also closed the 2016 TEDWomen conference in San Francisco, with a performance of “I Believe” and performed for the National Women’s History Museum honoring Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Dolores Huerta.
In line with her passion for spreading empowering messages, she posted a personal affirmation in song form on Instagram, and later released it as a single, after receiving an overwhelming amount of covers and demands from people all over the world asking for her to release it as a single. “You Are Enough” is available HERE.