From Chicago’s “Wild 100s” to South Holland and the affluent Lake Forest, Jessica Lá Rel has had an upbringing as vast and intense as the music she blesses her fans with. Over the course of a few years she has cultivated an eclectic style of Soul that has enabled her to open for everyone from Macklemore to Omarion and to perform for everyone from John Lewis to Barry Gordy.
Lá Rel credits her hometown and the black church for inspiring the communal and far-reaching vibe that she delivers in her music. She explains that for her, “[Music] is one of the most communal substances we have within our reach…in an instant, a song can bring a room of disconnected people together.” She was able to exhibit this in 2016 when she performed songs for iconic poet Nikki Giovanni and for actor Nate Parker from her upcoming EP Four Freedoms (set for release on September 2, 2016), including #WeCantBreathe, a single that honors the Black Lives Matter Movement and legacy of Civil Rights.
Lá Rel embraces an approach to music called alternative Soul, which she describes as: “[honoring] the past while connecting with the present and future of the genre [soul].” Her musical influences attest to this as she reminisces on listening to her mother’s vinyl records as a child, memorizing lyrics by Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Nina Simone, and Sarah Vaughn.
Her mature, magnetic vocals are reminiscent of her gospel upbringing, but she still maintains a pure, crystalline sultriness that has brought even Oprah to tears. Describing her sound as vast, communal, and soaring, Lá Rel fuses Jazz, Soul, Afrobeat, and World Music to ensure her audience soaks up the raw emotions that she inspires.