Our MN2S Upcoming features look at key tracks by the best up and coming artists on our DJ and live music rosters. This time we chart the rise of dance singer Kelli-Leigh.
Having worked as a writer, arranger and vocalist with the likes of Adele, Leona Lewis, Iggy Azalea, Duke Dumont and Secondcity, Kelli-Leigh is primed for major success of her own this year. Her vocals have already graced two number one singles and her tracks have received major support from Radio 1 and 1Xtra, so it is only a matter of time before Kelli-Leigh becomes a household name.
Here are 6 of her best tracks, as a featured artist, an uncredited vocalist and a solo artist, in anticipation of her huge crossover career.
Duke Dumont feat. Jax Jones – I Got U [Blasé Boys Club/Virgin Records]
Turning the clock back to the winter of early 2014, ‘I Got U,’ produced by Duke Dumont and Jax Jones, was all over the airwaves. Eventually reaching number one in both the UK and US charts, ‘I Got U’ gave the world at large their first exposure to Kelli-Leigh’s vocals. Singing an interpolation of Whitney Houston’s ‘My Love Is Your Love’ over Dumont and Jones’ bright, textured beats, Kelli-Leigh did a great job of impersonating Houston in her own distinctive way. Unfortunately, only the producers were credited for this song, meaning the exposure did not catapult Kelli-Leigh into the limelight as much as it could have.
Secondcity – I Wanna Feel [Speakerbox/Ministry of Sound]
Kelli-Leigh’s second number one of 2014 once again saw her doing her own take on a classic diva. This time, she sang lines from Toni Braxton’s ‘You’re Makin’ Me High’ over a beat by British producer Secondcity. Kelli-Leigh’s vocal talent is evident on this track too, but neither her nor fellow ‘I Wanna Feel’ vocalist Daniel Beddingfield were credited.
It is fantastic that Kelli-Leigh has these number ones under her belt, and that dance fans and the general public alike are now familiar with her singing, but it is on her recent releases that we have really seen her shine.
Bisou Presents Kelli-Leigh – Ain’t Got Nobody [LLP Music]
‘Ain’t Got Nobody’ is an upbeat dance track with contrastingly sad lyrics. Production from Bisou serves as a perfect backdrop for Kelli-Leigh’s emotive vocals. The song was premiered by MistaJam for the #InboxFresh segment of his 1Xtra show in December 2015. MistaJam loved the song so much that he played it again later in the same episode. The song has since made the jump to Radio 1, where it has been played an amazing four times on Radio 1 Dance Anthems.
‘Ain’t Got Nobody’ is the first track to give Kelli-Leigh credit as a lead artist, even if it is still shared with the producer. As Kelli-Leigh has discussed in interviews, she hopes to get the credit she deserves more frequently as her career develops in order to build a name for herself. Over time, there is no doubt that she will.
Low Steppa feat. Kelli-Leigh – Runnin’ [Armada Deep]
Released one month after ‘Ain’t Got Nobody,’ ‘Runnin’ also premiered on MistaJam’s 1Xtra show. Building on the great working relationship forged between Kelli-Leigh and Low Steppa when they made ‘So Real’ in 2015. ‘Runnin’ more than delivers on the promise of ‘So Real,’ with a heavier beat and more variations in rhythm that allow Kelli-Leigh to show off the different sides of her vocal talent.
As well as seeing acclaim from dedicated Kelli-Leigh fan MistaJam, ‘Runnin’ has had support from 1Xtra DJ Target and Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard. Listen out for this one in the clubs this summer.
Ferreck Dawn feat. Kelli-Leigh – Sweet Desperation [D:Vision]
Dutch deep house producer Ferreck Dawn’s debut release on D:Vision is an anthemic dance tune that features powerful vocals from Kelli-Leigh. With a pop-like verse-chorus structure and r&b vocal delivery, this may well be the kind of music we will hear more of as Kelli-Leigh steps into the spotlight. Despite this, the track is undeniably a house song, building to a giant climax around the ¾ mark.
Once again, this is sure to be a track that gets Kelli-Leigh’s voice into the clubs this summer, and hopefully pushes her over the edge into superstardom.
SANTEY feat. Kelli-Leigh – What Would You Do [Armada Deep]
Another melodic house track with hype-building verses and anthemic choruses. Kelli-Leigh’s hooks on this track are strong enough to keep it in your head all day. Producer SANTEY gets the most out of Kelli-Leigh’s hugely soulful performance by chopping up and processing her voice throughout. But the song is at its best when Kelli-Leigh is belting out the titular question, unadulterated.
‘What Would You Do’ is the bounciest of the recent crop of Kelli-Leigh releases, and there is no doubt it will pick up radio support with house DJs akin to her previous work. It could even be another crossover success for the singer when summer comes around.