R&B singer Leela James first burst onto the scene as an opening act for The Black Eye Peas and Macy Gray. She also supplied vocals for a track on Ray Charles' posthumous 2005 album Genius and Friends. These events led to the release her debut record 2005's A Change is Gonna Come which included a cover of the Sam Cooke classic for which the LP was named. James received critical praise drawing comparisons to Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Chaka Khan. Despite the critical praise, the album underperformed commercially, which led James to jump ship from Warner Bros. to independent label Shanachie [Shana-key] Records for her second album.
In 2010, she released her third album My Soul through the legendary Stax Records. The record sold well, debuting at number seven on the US R&B/ Hip Hop Charts. Her seventh and most recent album - Did It for Love - was released in March and contained her most successful single "Don't Want You Back", which landed at number one on Billboard's Adult R&B Songs chart.
Along with her music career, James has appeared on multiple television show including a two season stint on R&B Divas: Los Angeles, a reality show on cable channel TV One.