LaKisha Jones | So Glad I’m Me

Listen to song samples from “So Glad I’m Me” on our R&B/Soul page by clicking here!

LaKisha Jones – So Glad I’m Me
When I received this disc, So Glad I’m Me by LaKisha Jones to review, the timing was absolutely perfect since it was less than a week ago when the current season of American Idol announced their latest winner.   From an estimated total of voters of nearly one million, the majority rule picked Kris Allen, whose prize will be a major recording contract.  People might ask: Why do I drop this question concerning who won the latest A.I. installment?   I was simply flabbergasted that the runner-up Adam Lambert was the one in my mind that had all the vocal goods to reach the very top.  I also happened to feel the same way when Jones, a very compelling vocalist and accomplished actress finished fourth behind season six winner Jordin Sparks.  This is not meant to be a personal knock on Sparks and Allen’s obvious talents, but LaKisha’s self-assured personality and her adaptability in handling standards (“Stormy Weather”), pop/rock (Bon Jovi’s “This Ain’t A Long Song”) and British pop (“Diamonds Are Forever” by Shirley Bassey) are winning qualities when it comes to becoming a legitimate star.  By the way, Jones handles the Whitney Houston songbook with absolute finesse.  During the pre-top ten selection shows, Jones performed “I Have Nothing.” On the Top 10 A.I. season six U.S tour, she stole the show with her rendition of Houston’s signature hit, “I Will Always Love You.”  If there was any consolation at the time, Jones finished in the A.I. bottom two once during the climb to first prize.  
The big label contract may have eluded Jones, but the Flint, Michigan born vocalist was fully willing to risk her ‘day job’ at the time of the competition and exercise her faith in God to seek the chance for musical superstardom.  To progress into the final four during season six was an absolute accomplishment considering Jones never got past the first audition for A.I. in 2003.  Despite the rejections and stresses that usually plague talent contestants, there is plenty of fight instilled in this former vocal performance student from the University of Michigan.  When various vocal mentors guided the A.I. contestants, Jones was always adamant about how she treated each of her performances.  In an interview with The Fresno Bee, she stated: “I’m presenting the song, so I have to sing the song the way I think it will come across good.”
Growing up, she treasured the music from legends like Aretha Franklin & Houston growing up, but was encouraged by the wisdom of her grandmother, which finally sealed her choice to pursue music.  Fueled by the love of soul and gospel, Jones had the opportunity to blend a portion of both genres in the popular Broadway adaptation of The Color Purple.  She joined the cast of the Quincy Jones/Oprah Winfrey co-production after finishing her commitment to the 2007 Top Ten A.I. tour.  During her tenure, she played two roles, including ‘the church soloist’ in which she had the honor of being the stand-in for another R&B star Chaka Khan.   As an interesting but not surprising aside, former A.I. alumni such as Fantasia and LaToya London have also participated in traveling companies of The Color Purple.
Jones now joins an elite group of other A.I. non-winners who have gained notoriety on various levels in the independent and major label route including Elliot Yamin, George Huff, Mandisa, and Jennifer Hudson.  So Glad I’m Me, Jones’ full-length recording debut, is a musical autobiography about how her faith has stood the test of time; in building the confidence in whom she is, and in facing the joys and challenges of love relationships.   So Glad I’m Me from independent company Elite Music also gives Jones further opportunity to rekindle her soul and gospel roots.  Even though she is very comfortable in handling other genres, her voice excels within this primarily adult urban contemporary format.  The standout tracks include the current single – the mid-tempo techno grooving “Let’s Go Celebrate,” a rare moment where Jones successfully breaks out of her normal balladeer mode.  “Beautiful Girl” pays an exquisite tribute to a special person in Jones’ life – her five-year old daughter.  The Diane Warren-penned “Same Song” yearns for reconciliation in a relationship that has lost its synchronicity.  Showing her affection for Whitney once again, “You Give Good Love” proves that Jones’ sensitive interpretation regarding any of Houston’s material makes an enjoyable listening experience alongside the original versions.  What would an urban music disc be without a tossing in a seventies throwback soul track. “Memories (Fade Away)” answers the call with its gorgeous sea of woodwinds, strings, and soft guitar.  
Throughout So Glad I’m Me, Jones beams with confidence in her powerful vocals that never resort to over the top acrobatics.  However, I have a few minor downgrades.  Even with the nice musical production nuances and beautifully flowing track sequencing, some of the background vocal tracks could have been stripped of the electronic masking.  If Jones also could explore more of the older soul music school, this disc would be more remarkable than the average modern day R&B/soul offering.  Taking everything into account, I still believe Jones possesses a winning caliber voice, independent or major label aside, that could put talent contestants on notice; and I will give a solid recommendation for So Glad I’m Me
Peggy Oliver
The Urban Music Scene

MORE Music Reviews on T.U.M.S.!:

Lalah Hathaway's Starry Starry Homecoming Night in L.A.
L.A.'s RnB Live Club; Serving up "A Night to Remember" Every Wednesday of the Week."
Andrea Helms | Moving Forward
Robert Glasper Experiment | Black Radio
Rhythm Will Be Queen at The 34th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival
The Angela Bofill Experience f/ Maysa | at Anthology in San Diego, Nov. 5th
Eric Clapton & Wynton Marsalis, Play the Blues: Live from Jazz At Lincoln Center
Richard Elliot | In The Zone
Judith Christie McAllister | Sound the Trumpet
Concert Review: Return to Forever IV/Zappa Plays Zappa
Hidden Beach Presents "The Original Jill Scott - From The Vault Vol. 1"
Deitrick Haddon | Anthology: The Writer & His Music
Joss Stone | LP1
Trombone Shorty | For True
Global Noize | A Prayer for the Planet
Medicine – Live at The Black Academy of Arts & Letters
Lorenzo Johnson | Things Are Looking Up
LaTina Webb | Hush
The Jade Element
Al Green | The Best of the Gospel Sessions
Reggie Young | Steppin’ Up
Gail Holmes | I Receive Your Love
Kindred the Family Soul | Love Has No Recession
Jill Scott | The Light Of The Sun
Beyoncé | 4
Patsy Moore | Expatriates
Pat Metheny | What's It All About
Alicia Keys | songs in A minor: 10th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
Ledisi | Pieces of Me
Our Review of The 33rd Anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival
Michael Franks | Time Together
Soul Togetherness Presents The Skip Scarborough Songbook | Various Artists
Monday Michiru | Don't Disturb This Groove
"An Evening With Dave Grusin" (DVD-Blu-ray Disc)
Raphael Saadiq | Stone Rollin'
Dennis Coffey | Dennis Coffey