Maysa: Incognito No More

They call her Maysa. Just Maysa. And for the past 20 years, this smooth jazz vocalist with the deep soothing tone has enjoyed a storybook career just shy of that Prince Charming ending. She was a member of the world renowned Morgan State University Choir under the direction of the late great Nathan Carter during her college years complete with travel abroad, television appearances, and best selling recordings. Within weeks of graduating, she became a part of Stevie Wonder’s backup ensemble, Wonderlove. (Ask her about riding in a car with Stevie driving). And a few years after musically supporting the “musical genius,” she was auditioned by telephone for lead voice in the British soul collective, Incognito. Hired on the spot, she was on a plane, $10 in her pocket, to record with the band in London within the week. The first single with the new vocalist, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” in 1992, gave Maysa immediate international recognition. She was 26.

Today, 20 years and 16 group and eight solo CDs later, Maysa (whose last name is Leak) looks back on a full and accomplished career full of international tours, major television appearances, national awards, positive reviews, chart topping movie soundtracks and personal recordings, and musical collaborations with some of the best jazz and R&B musicians in the industry such as Stevie Wonder, Will Downing, Rick Braun, Kim Waters, Gerald Veasley and Jonathan Butler. Usually categorized as smooth jazz, other descriptions from soul, neo soul, R&B, funk, funk/jazz, jazz, jazz fusion and many others have been attached to her as well. Her latest CD, released the end of January 2010, Woman in Love, has climbed the charts steadily, and even gained her notice by mainstream jazz critics. With selections like “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,” “ ‘Round Midnight” and “When I Fall in Love” featured, she demonstrates her full bodied contralto can respectfully handle a classic or put a down home spin on it. But despite it all, it’s not quite the glass slipper…

“I love my life. It’s what I always wanted to do. After 20 years, here I am and I’m so grateful. The one thing I always prayed for, and God gave me, has been longevity,” says Maysa.

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