Lina

Daddy B. Nice's #68 ranked Southern Soul Artist



Portrait of Lina by Daddy B. Nice
 


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"I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)"

Lina



December 15, 2012: NEW ALBUM ALERT:

The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird

Scroll down to Tidbits #3 to read Daddy B. Nice's new CD Review of Lina's The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird.

************

Daddy B. Nice's Profile of Lina:



Listen to Lina singing "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)" on YouTube.

Lina's "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)" was the kind of song that justifies the qualifier "da bomb." It lay waste to the landscape of southern soul music for miles in every creative direction. It showed up the usual female southern soul radio fare as wanting, the way a sleek international model might walk off a fifty-million dollar yacht and show up the local divas singing doo wop on the street corner. And it snagged, fascinated, and duly obsessed the deejays who heard it.

It was a song that comes along only once in a very great while, a song which, musically speaking, stood heads and shoulders above its competition, a song that on its merits alone, without other tunes or albums to bolster its artist's heft, catapulted a young, hitherto unknown artist into the top echelons of chitlin'-circuit southern soul.

The journey of "I Won't Let My Baby Down" makes for one of the best stories in contemporary Southern Soul.

Listen to Lina singing "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)" on YouTube.

"I Won't Let My Baby Down" made its appearance on Jackson, Mississippi's WMPR afternoon DJ Handyman's radio show in 2010. How it was leaked there is still anyone's guess. But almost immediately, two of Southern Soul music's tastemakers--WMPR jock and longtime website maven Jerry "DJ Boogie" Mason and Southern Soul RnB's Daddy B. Nice--jumped on the song like two middle-of-the-pack lions devouring a carcass left by the dominant feline of the pride. We couldn't wait to champion the record.

In the beginning there was confusion not only about the name of the artist but the name of the tune. At first it was believed the name of the artist was "Nita," a mistake put down to trying to pick up the name from a verbal (DJ Handyman) reference only.
Then there was a mystery about the title. The dominant refrain throughout the song is the phrase, "I won't let my baby down." However, the tune turned out to have a much more obscure title, one barely referenced in the lyrics, namely: "My Man."

But as the song began to pick up more air play and momentum, all of it (by the way) unsolicited, un-promoted and un-hyped, simply word of mouth, none of the particulars really mattered. The only factors of any consequence were the sheer originality and impeccable execution of the song, both from the standpoint of the vocal track and the perspective of the arrangement.

The vocal track combined all of what's best in a female-driven foreground. The singer was young, which is always disarming, particularly when combined with a professional execution.

The singer was direct and accessible. There were no questions of whether or not the singer was "trying to be" a soul singer, as opposed to "being a soul singer"--the rap against so many other neo-soul and retro-soul aggregations outside Dixie.

There was talk of whether neo-soul artist Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings would be able to break that barrier between sounding like the real thing and being the real thing. With one single, "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)," Lina broke that barrier. A complete outsider, she delivered the real thing and more.

The true test of this factor, as Southern Soul music fans know only too well, is whether a performance flies in the pungent air of the chitlin' circuit. Put another way, does it sound real when you hear the song amidst the other blues and R&B in Mississippi?

"I Won't Let My Baby Down" sounded great in the 21st Century South. "I Won't Let My Baby Down" would have sounded great in the sixties in rotation with Martha & The Vandella's "Dancing In The Streets" and Aretha Franklin's "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman." Not only did the singer negotiate the melody and gorgeous choruses with a sincerity and power uncommon in any era, she also ignited certain passages with a passion as vulnerable--albeit more youthful--as Etta James in "I'd Rather Go Blind."

So strong was the vocal, that if the song had been done only in acapella, it would have been just as stunning--although not as magnificent--as the finished version, which boasted one of the most unique arrangements of an R&B tune heard in many years.

Like many of the greatest soul songs, "I Won't Let My Baby Down" features an arrangement dominated by a strong bass line, a bass line--moreover--that doubles as a lead guitar/keyboard hook.

In awarding "I Won't Let My Baby Down" the Best Female Vocalist performance of 2010 ("Daddies" Annual Southern Soul RnB awards) and the #3 Southern Soul Single of 2010, your Daddy B. Nice wrote about the arrangement:

3. "My Man (I Won't Let My Baby Down)"------------Lina

Lina's vocal knocks you over with its technical talent and emotional authority, all the more potent for being so obviously young and innocent. The song's arrangement is equally stunning, importing an unusual chord structure and a unique, "Little Drummer Boy"-"rumpa-pum-pum" kinda sound that will insure this song is played long after the dust settles on 2010.


That "rumpa-pum-pum" echo effect, which gave the instrumental hook a top-forty-like shimmer as bright as a first-class diamond, was the crowning piece to the song's puzzle. The horse-and-carriage marriage of the unique-sounding hook and the vintage chorus ("Oooh-Oooooh, Oooh-Oooooh") set off Lina's vocal to maximum effect.

Listen to Lina "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)" on YouTube while you read.

"It's funny
That you're calling
When things start
Getting better for me.

Just to put the pressure
On me,
You say you want to go back
To the way things
Used to be.

You ask me how I'm doing.
I say fine.
I've got somebody special
In my life.

See, I never thought
I would,
Because you hurt me
So good.

But now he's showing me
How love's supposed to be.

And. . .

I won't let my baby down.
I won't let my baby down."

When Lina hits that chorus, she flies like an angel. There is no other earthly description that suffices. "I Won't Let My Baby Down" is one of the most exhilarating rhythm and blues phrases ever recorded.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Lina

Tracking down the young woman behind "My Man (I Won't Let My Baby Down)" was yet another journey of discovery. It turns out that Lina didn't just appear out of nowhere, a full-blown, Southern Soul star-in-the-making.

Lina was actually one of a class of alternative-slash--neo-soul divas (Joi, India.Arie, Res, Neko Case, Jaguar Wright, Vivian Green, Nelly Furtado) that matriculated around the turn of the century.

Lina started out with a distribution deal from Atlantic--in other words, about as close to the "top" as you get in popular music. However, the debut album, Stranger On Earth (Atlantic/East West, 2001)--an exotic smorgasboard of jazz, R&B, and big-band swing--did not translate into another big-label contract.

Nevertheless, Stranger on Earth was named the # 1 R&B Album of the Year by Tower Records' Pulse Magazine, the # 1 album by CDNow.com and among the Top 10 R&B Albums of the Year by "Billboard Magazine."

Buy obscure copies of Lina's first album, Stranger On Earth, on Amazon.

Born in Denver (birth name Shelina Wade), raised in Dallas and career-bound in Los Angeles, Lina subsequently moved to an indie-oriented label, Hidden Beach Records, for her second and arguably most representative album, The Inner Beauty Movement (2005).

It was on this album that critics began talking about Lina's producer--the other missing piece of the puzzle--a young man with dual American and French citizenship named Jeeve.

(Jeeve, then, was the architect of "My Man's" "rumpa-pum-pum" sound, the sound that sucks listeners into the song even before Lina has started her first verse.)

Meanwhile, The Inner Beauty Movement refined the neo-soul-meets-swing formula of Lina's first album and niched Lina in the heavy shadow of artists like Erykah Badu and Sade.

Lina did pick up some ardent fans with these albums, but she by no means became a familiar name. Eschewing Badu's ongoing flirtation with hiphop, Lina's audience remained small and "world-music" oriented.

Lina released her third album, Morning Star independently in February 2008 on her label, MoodStar, and her fourth album, Vintage, in 2010.

Lina recorded the single "My Man (I Won't Let My Baby Down)" in between these two albums (some references report 2008, others 2009). The song had little in common with the CD's light-alternative soul, and tellingly, "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)" wasn't included on 2010's Vintage album, even though the song had been recorded at least a year earlier.

Back To The Future

No one really knows if "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)" marks an epiphany--and a possible change in course--for the ultra-talented Lina and her distinctive producer Jeeve.

What is known is that the song's tally of plays on Lina on My Space has garnered 70,000-plus hits, a phenomenal number for a single with no mainstream air play and no album, and a number that dwarfs well-respected Southern Soul acts. "My Man," with its relatively primordial immediacy and emotion, is also, interestingly, the highest-requested by far of Lina's tunes.

The song's journey came full circle last year in Jackson, Mississippi, where the previously slick-and-urban young songstress came to the Dirty South, the heart of the blues-drenched Delta, and triumphed in a sans-band performance, singing along with her record to a bunch of diehard Southern Soul fans in a "hole in the wall" as full of good vibes as any Mel Waiters ever sang about.

The event was DJ Outlaw's (of WMPR) annual birthday celebration and--not to get sentimental--it brought tears to this curmudgeon's eyes to see the level of acceptance given this exotic young lady from another musical culture (although she grew up in east Texas) belting out her song, her hair frizzy with humidity, the sweat glistening on her face, surrounded by ecstatic Delta fans shouting out every word of "I Won't Let My Baby Down" by heart, and I do mean by heart.

Here's a link to that occasion, and final proof of how a song--if it's the real deal--can come out of nowhere to hijack an entire genre and gain its love and respect. The sound quality is very poor, but the communion between artist and audience is clear for anyone to see.

Listen to Lina singing "I Won"t Let My Baby Down (My Man)" at DJ Outlaw's Birthday Bash in Mississippi.


Song's Transcendent Moment

"What used to be so vivid
Is so vague.
I can't even remember
What it was about you
That made me stay.

No, we can't go back in time.
You see, you're a changed man,
And you get down on your knees
For another chance.

I forgive you, baby.
It's all right.
I've got somebody special
In my life.

And he takes good care of me.
It's where I want to be,
So I hope you understand.
I love him.
He's my man."


Tidbits

1.

November 27, 2011:

Omitted from the casual discography above is a compilation album Lina put out in 2005, the same year that she recorded The Inner Beauty Movement. The out-of print disc, Save Your Soul, Vol. 1 (Moodstar), features producer Jeeve and other friends, with interviews, etc.

2.

November 27, 2011.

Lina has a copious presence on YouTube. Here are some of her best performances:

Listen to Lina singing the radio single of "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)."

Listen to Lina singing "Let It Go" on YouTube.

Listen to Lina singing "Good Day" on YouTube.

Listen to Lina singing "Smooth" on YouTube.

Listen to Lina singing "Around The World" with Anthony Hamilton on YouTube.

3.

Transferred to this page from New CD Reviews on 6-15-13.

December 30, 2012:  

LINA: The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird (Malindy/Moodstar) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Energized by strong percussion, a stunning acoustic bass line, vintage horns and a celestially-inspired background chorus, Lina's "I Won't Let My Baby Down" was the kind of song that justifies the qualifier "da bomb."

In Daddy B. Nice's 4th Annual Southern Soul Music Awards (2010), the song came in at number three for the year:

"The most mind-blowing recording by a new artist since LaMorris Williams' "Impala," Daddy B. Nice wrote. "Recorded in California in 2008, Lina's from-out-of-nowhere classic seeped into the chitlin' circuit this fall via Jackson, Mississippi's WMPR DJ Handyman."

Listen to Lina singing "I Won't Let My Baby Down" on YouTube while you read.

Laying waste to the landscape of Southern Soul music for miles in every creative direction, "I Won't Let My Baby Down" showed up the usual female southern soul radio fare as wanting, in just the way a sleek international model might walk off a fifty-million dollar yacht and show up the local divas singing acapella on the street corner.

Lina had that on-the-cusp-of-innocence, youthful, girl-group sound, but with grit. There was no question of whether or not the singer was "trying to be" a soul singer, as opposed to "being a soul singer"--the rap against so many other neo-soul and retro-soul aggregations outside Dixie.

And in 2012 the Southern Soul audience was treated to an even grittier, gospel-tinged cover of Lina's instant classic by a singer named Lewis (Raw Shaw) Shaw, who simply sang over the sampled Lina original intact.

Listen to Lewis (Raw Shaw) Shaw singing "I Won't Let My Baby Down" on YouTube.

There had been a debate in these pages about whether neo-soul artist Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings would be able to break that barrier between sounding like the real thing and being the real thing.

With one single, "I Won't Let My Baby Down," Lina broke that barrier. A complete outsider, she delivered the real thing and more.

So if you haven't heard of Lina, rejoice, you have now, and the good news is that "I Won't Let My Baby Down" anchors (while by no means dominates) Lina's successful if ineptly-titled new CD, The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird.

Making its first appearance on a CD, "I Won't Let My Baby Down," written by Jean-Yves Ducornet and Shelina Wade, occupies the number-two slot on the set, making a spectacular one-two punch with the opening track, a cover of Jackie Moore's little-known, 1971 soul hit, "Precious, Precious." If you can imagine young Southern Soul artist Lacee singing a cover of Denise LaSalle's "Trapped By A Thing Called Love," you'll have an approximation of the style and sound.

When Lina broke into the Southern Soul music scene, no one had any idea of who she was or where she had come from. Shelina Wade (aka Lina) grew up in Texas and lives in California, where she has pursued a neo-soul-slash-World Music career spanning three previous LP's.

Lina debuted on Atlantic Records, where she released her first album, Stranger on Earth, in August 2001. The CD was named one of 2001's Top 10 albums of the year by "Billboard" and spawned the hiphop single, "Playa No Mo," but in today's one-and-done market the young performer still lost her big-label contract.

Lina released her sophomore album titled The Inner Beauty Movement on Hidden Beach Records in 2006 and her third album, Morning Star in 2008 on the Moodstar label. Meanwhile, she assiduously wrote songs, most prominently for Tyrese.

Is the Southern Soul audience ready for this new Lina CD with its battle-tested, beloved single and little else for Southern Soul fans otherwise expecting the usual grown-folks emotion and below-the-belt sex and humor?

The ballad "I Won't Go Down," with its southern-style voice-over, has a memorable if saccharine melody.

Listen to Lina singing "I Won't Go Down" on YouTube.

The vocals, harmonies and arrangements on "Your Love" and "Better Together" sound like neo-soul artist Res ("They Say Vision," "700 Mile Situation"), not to mention Lina's own previous neo-soul outings.

But after "I Won't Let My Baby Down," the finest song on The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird--done twice by Lina--is the uptempo "Love." Lifted by a get-up-and-dance hook, "Love" harks back to the operatic, doowop-influenced R&B of late-fifties, early-sixties groups like Deon & the Belmonts and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

Urban-smooth R&B stations who ladle a small percentage of regional-sounding, Southern Soul-based acts into their mix on a regular basis--radio outlets like WZZA-1570, The Shoals, Alabama---would seem to be the best bet for Lina's new CD to "break out," although from a commercial standpoint "breaking-out" in the chitlin' circuit may not even be a consideration for Lina.

Then again, Lina did record the funky, rock-and-rolling Southern Soul of "I Won't Let My Baby Down," and Lina did show up at Couples Entertainment Center in Jackson, Mississippi in 2011 for WMPR DJ Outlaw's birthday party and--alongside longtime local diva Pat Brown--rocked the house. The hand-held camera shows everything there is to know about the pleasures of getting down at a Southern Soul-style "hole in the wall" and everything there is to know about the authenticity of Lina.

Listen to Lina singing "I Won't Let My Baby Down" at DJ Outlaw's Birthday Party on YouTube.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample or Buy The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird MP3's or CD.

Read more in Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Lina.

*********


If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," you'll love Lina's "I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)."



EDITOR'S NOTE

Over the last year I've been dropping hints to the younger musicians.

"Be watching because there's going to be something coming on the site that'll be a real blessing for the younger people."

And I've also been telling a lot of deserving new artists to bide their time, that their day to be featured in a Daddy B. Nice Artist Guide was coming, and long overdue.

Now, at last, the day has come.

The great Southern Soul stars are mostly gone. There's a new generation clamoring to be heard.

Rather than waiting years to go online as I did with the original Top 100, this chart will be a work-in-progress.

Each month five new and never-before-featured artists will be showcased, starting at #100 and counting down to #1.

I estimate 50-75 new Artist Guides will be created by the time I finish. The other 25-50 Guides will feature artists from the old chart who are holding their own or scaling the peaks in the 21st Century.

Absent will be the masters who have wandered off to Soul Heaven. And missing will be the older artists who for one reason or another have slowed down, become inactive or left the scene.

The older generation's contributions to Southern Soul music, however, will not be forgotten.

That is why it was so important to your Daddy B. Nice to maintain the integrity of the original Top 100 and not continue updating it indefinitely.

(Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul covered the period from 1990-2010. Daddy B. Nice's new 21st Century Southern Soul will cover the period from 2000-2020.)

When I constructed the first chart, I wanted to preserve a piece of musical history. I heard a cultural phenomenon I was afraid might be lost forever unless I wrote about it.

There will be no more changes to the original chart. Those performers' place in Southern Soul music will stand.

But I see a new scene today, a scene just as starved for publicity and definition, a scene missing only a mirror to reflect back its reality.

The prospect of a grueling schedule of five new artist pages a month will be daunting, and I hope readers will bear with me as I gradually fill out what may seem at first inadequate Artist Guides.

Information from readers will always be welcome. That's how I learn. That's how I add to the data.

I'm excited to get started. I have been thinking about this for a long time. I've already done the bulk of the drawings.

In a funny way, the most rewarding thing has been getting back to doing the drawings, and imagining what recording artists are going to feel like when they see their mugs in a black and white cartoon. Hopefully----high! An artist hasn't really "made it" until he or she's been caricatured by Daddy B. Nice.

In the beginning months, the suspense will be in what new stars make the chart. In the final months, the suspense will be in who amongst the big dogs and the new stars is in the top twenty, the top ten, and finally. . . the top spot.

I'm not tellin'.

Not yet.

--Daddy B. Nice

Go to Top 100 Countdown: 21st Century Southern Soul


Honorary "B" Side

"I'm Not The Enemy"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man) by  Lina
I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man)


CD: My Man (I Won't Let My Baby Down)
Label: Moodstar

Sample or Buy
My Man (I Won't Let My Baby Down) Single


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm Not The Enemy by  Lina
I'm Not The Enemy


CD: Stranger On Earth
Label: Atlantic/ East West

Sample or Buy
Stranger On Earth


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Won't Let My Baby Down by  Lina
I Won't Let My Baby Down


CD: The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird
Label: Malindy/ Moodstar

Sample or Buy
The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Between Us by  Lina
Between Us


CD: Morning Star
Label: Moodstar

Sample or Buy
Morning Star


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Let It Go by  Lina
Let It Go


CD: Inner Beauty Movement
Label: Moodstar

Sample or Buy
Inner Beauty Movement


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Precious Precious by  Lina
Precious Precious


CD: The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird
Label: Malindy/ Moodstar

Sample or Buy
The Love Chronicles of a Lady Songbird


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Smooth by  Lina
Smooth


CD: Inner Beauty Movement
Label: Inner Beach

Sample or Buy
Inner Beauty Movement


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Wake Up by  Lina
Wake Up


CD: Morning Star
Label: Moodstar

Sample or Buy
Morning Star


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Around The World (w/ Anthony Hamilton) by  Lina
Around The World (w/ Anthony Hamilton)


CD: Inner Beauty Movement
Label: Moodstar

Sample or Buy
Inner Beauty Movement


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Feel The Love by  Lina
Feel The Love


CD: Morning Star
Label: Moodstar

Sample or Buy
Morning Star


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Good Day by  Lina
Good Day


CD: Morning Star
Label: Moodstar

Sample or Buy
Morning Star


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Am  by  Lina
I Am


CD: Inner Beauty Movement
Label: Moodstar

Sample or Buy
Inner Beauty Movement


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Playa No Mo' by  Lina
Playa No Mo'


CD: Stranger On Earth
Label: Atlantic

Sample or Buy
Stranger On Earth


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