Today’s Morning Groove is inspired by two posts I saw while I was away from Chevvy at the Chevvy’s Studio blog. Her weekly “Sunday Coming Down” posts usually give us something good to wind down the end of the weekend to, and in the post I referenced above, she featured a song by Maysa Leak, who just so happens to be one of my favorite singers. The second one gave Maysa the spotlight to herself, as Chevvy featured a few of her favorite songs by her.
I only found out who she was by chance. One random day back in 1994, I wandered into the local music shop looking for something to drop my money on. I couldn’t find anything until my eyes wandered upon a CD cover with six people on the front—a bassist and a guitar player, a man and a woman with no instruments, along with a dude next to a keyboard and a drummer. The name on the front of the CD was Incognito, and the name of that album was called Positivity. Somehow, having never heard a single note of any of the songs, I was intrigued.
I knew nothing of Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick, the leader of the band, nor anything of the wondrous female lead vocalist who would haunt my waking hours after many plays of the album, one Maysa Leak. Nor did I know that Maysa was from Baltimore and had studied music at Morgan State University in the city. No, at that time I knew nothing; but fate somehow played a part and persuaded me to purchase that album that day. From the opening notes, I was not disappointed; I still play that album or songs from it every now and then and it never gets old.
Checking Maysa’s bio, not only does she hail from Baltimore, but she also started her career singing with Stevie Wonder in Wonderlove, his backup singers. After doing that for a year and performing on his soundtrack to the movie Jungle Fever, she auditioned to be the lead singer of Incognito. She moved to London after being chosen, and was heavily featured on the albums Tribes, Vibes & Scribes and Positivity, before making her solo debut in 1995 with the self-titled album Maysa. Maysa still sings with Incognito from time to time, but also has a flourishing solo career going as well.
Today’s Morning Groove is the opening track from the album that introduced me to both singer and band. After hearing “Step Into My Life,” there was no going back. The album is full of winners in my book; if you like acid jazz, R&B, or just plain good music, you need to listen to this. And while this song steps into my life one more time, I’ll be stepping into the groove.
As a bonus Morning Groove, here is the song Maysa sang for Maunick over the phone as an unofficial audition to be lead singer of Incognito: a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”. There was never an official audition: she was hired right away. It appears on the Tribes, Vibes & Scribes album.
Many thanks to Chevvy for reminding me of the goodness of Maysa Leak; I’ll need to find a way to feature more of her outstanding singing—maybe some songs from her solo projects next time. And as always, thanks for listening and reading.