Chanda Leigh at Dinner Party Atlanta Sept 2008
Chanda’s CD’s are not new, and this post is a continuation of the Atlanta posts earlier, but am showcasing her albums as a recognition of one of the best performances I saw this year. I had seen her the previous year at a Soul Sista’s Juke joint, but this year i thought she was outstanding, and i was fortunate to be able to spend some time with her at Nikki Wade’s dinner party the following weekend.
Big City Life – 2003
Don’t have a full tracklisting here but the album is full of Chanda’s crystal clear vocals, and jazz laden keyboard accompaniment. Big City Lights is probably the top track but the whole package is full of good songs, well played and produced and is well worth a visit or revisit.
Life’s too short is a beautiful duet ballad with a quality vocal from both.
Easy on the eyes
Easy on the eyes is funkier than we have evidenced so far, sparser backing, still retaining jazz influenes but more contempoarary sound. Eye Candy continues in that kind of vibe and is also a strong track.
Things I’d do is mellower and haunting with strings, or string samples, bigger production at any rate.Feelin U Feeling me is amother of the stronger cuts. Star sign again is a different direction adding more versatile and interest to the album
Certainly can’t wait until we get some new product which I am assured is being worked on.
Big City Life is an album of songs about the journey that we must all take to find out who we truly are and what makes us smile.
At 12-years old, Chanda was very shy when it came to directing the choir at her father’s church. At such a young age, the budding pianist from Springfield, Massachusetts did not quite know how to juggle her church duties with running track, writing short stories and playing soccer. What she did know was that, much to her surprise, when she directed the choir, people listened to her and followed her instruction. This seed of inspiration would prove to bloom into a dream come true; one day, she would have a unique and fulfilling career in music.
Years later as a creative writing major at Spelman College, it was a performance by the school’s Jazz Ensemble that thrilled her and re-ignited her passion for music. She was so inspired by the talented women playing all kinds of instruments that she decided to join. Under the tutelage of Professor Joe Jennings, she began studying Jazz Piano and upon graduation in 1995, formed The Chanda Bailey Trio. The group performed live jazz all over Atlanta, delighting audiences at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Montreaux Music Festival and The High Museum of Art. In 1997, she moved to Los Angeles to begin her television career playing keyboards in the house band of the Keenen Ivory Wayans Show. Shortly after moving out west, she met and befriended Grammy-nominated producer, DaMone Arnold. The two instantly formed a musical bond, quickly writing and recording her first record, Easy on the Eyes. Her debut, which she playfully describes as a hybrid of Janet Jackson meets Stevie Wonder, received so many hits on http://www.mp3.com that Chanda became a featured “Women of MP3 “artist three times.
After a 1999 world tour with the Grammy-nominated reggae band, Morgan Heritage, Chanda returned to the US to grace the big screen in Jerry Bruckheimer’s romantic film, Coyote Ugly. After a decisive move from LA back to Atlanta later that same year, she began collaborating with her former creative writing professor, Ray Grant. Together the two created such inspiring songs as Big City Life, ˜Wash His Feet” and “Something Old is Something New”. These beautifully crafted songs would go on to become the defining sound of her new second record, Big City Life, inspired by the experiences of city life in the hustle and bustle of New York. “Now, when I walk down the street, I see so many things that inspire me that I might have overlooked before. There are times when I have to laugh out loud, and sometimes I’m moved to tears. My goal is to capture those emotions and put my thoughts to music.”
Recently, Chanda performed daily as a keyboardist on the nationally syndicated The Caroline Rhea Show. Her talents have also been showcased on MTV, The Roseanne Show, and as a solo artist on The Caroline Rhea Show. Her theater credits include Fats Waller’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Five Guys Named Moe. Chanda also records and performs with pop icon, Irene Cara, about whom she says, “Her work ethic really inspires me to reach for my greatest.” From gospel to jazz, reggae to rhythm and blues, exploring and performing all kinds of music has helped her to define her own style of music, a style she affectionately calls “country-pop-gospel”. “It’s a little bit country because I like to tell vivid stories lyrically… a little bit pop because you can remember the hook and sing along… and a little bit gospel because God gave me this talent and that’s where my roots are.”