With inviting, optimistic song titles like “Up So High” and a highly anticipated new full length album called Take Me Higher on Innervision Records, vocalist and songwriter Aysha takes her sexy, sensual style = which she dubs “smooth R&B with a jazzy edge” - to the next level, vibing in the studio with a dynamic mix of some of the top artists and producers in contemporary urban jazz to ensure the perfect flow and expression of where she is as an artist and performer in 2015.
The soulful, easy-grooving title track, co-written with, produced by and featuring saxophonist Darren Rahn, reflects where Aysha was in her life when she wrote it, making positive changes along her spiritual journey. Its magical sense of uplift is capturing hearts around the world quickly, rising to #13 on the Groove Jazz chart, #4 on the UK Top 30 Soul chart and hitting high on similar charts in Germany and Japan. She met Rahn, a consistent genre hit maker as both a solo artist and producer for everyone from Toby Keith, Dave Koz and Wayman Tisdale to Jonathan Butler, Najee and Kirk Whalum, when the two performed at the 2103 Dubai Jazz Festival. Likewise, “Release Me,” Take Me Higher’s first lead single co-written with and produced by Monty Seward (Howard Hewett, Vanessa Williams, Diana Ross), reached #7 on the UK Top 30 Soul chart.
“I was originally going to call the album ‘Released’ because I had broken free of a difficult relationship at the time, but as the project evolved, I felt that everything was transcending to a higher place,” says Aysha. “My lyrics naturally reflect that, and the songs I chose to cover, Christopher Cross’ ‘Sailing,’ Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ and Atlantic Starr’s ‘Send For Me’ speak to the state of my heart as well. I just wanted to record an eclectic set of songs that felt good, without worrying too much about sticking to a specific genre. It felt good to step outside the box.”
Testament to Aysha’s expanding presence as a powerhouse artist in the genre is the opportunity she had on Take Me Higher to collaborate with so many of its top artists and producers. In addition to Rahn and Seward, who also helmed and sang on the lush, soulful ballad “Undeniable,” Aysha has tracks with guitarist Steve Oliver (“The Right Thing”), saxophonist Andre Delano (“Up So High”), Carmen Grillo from Tower of Power (“Let’s Get It On,” “All I Want”) and Damon Dae, who sang on and produced the vocals for “You’re The Only One” (with instrumental tracks produced by Sean “Barney” Thomas (Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Freddie Jackson). Special guests include saxman Eric Darius on “Undeniable” and Najee, playing graceful flute on the sensuous funk romance “All I Want,” co-written by Aysha and bassist Darryl Williams.
Another driving reason for Aysha’s wild optimism on Take Me Higher is the exciting career momentum she brings to the project, in addition to the success of the two lead singles. She was nominated in 2009 and 2010 for Jazz Artist of the Year at the Los Angeles Music Awards, and her popular 2010 EP Stay With Me, the singer’s follow-up to her 2006 debut Love Is a Rock, earned her Jazz Album of the year honors. She has established herself in the urban jazz realm in a variety of ways, from concert and festival performances to launching her own jazz radio show on Urban Soul Radio (accessible at www.urbansoulmedia.com).
Over the past few years, Aysha has shared the stage with top instrumental stars Najee, Blake Aaron, Marion Meadows, Paul Brown and Everette Harp, and opened for Greg Adams (Tower of Power) and his East Bay Soul band at 94.7 The Wave’s Thursday night VIBE series in Hollywood, CA. In June 2012, Aysha shared the stage with R&B sensation, Monica and Floyd at the Wortham Center’s Brown Theatre in Houston, TX and with Gerald Albright and Norman Brown in San Diego at Humphreys by the Bay for Jazz It Up 2012, a benefit for homeless women and children. The singer also formed the super group “The Soul Seduction Tour” featuring Seward (keyboards/vocals), guitarist JJ Sansaverino, saxophonist Will Donato, bassist Darryl Williams and drummer Tony Moore. The successful tour included a performance at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival.
Some of Aysha’s past performance dates included singing the opening song for the Amazing Grace Gospel Fest at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live for a house of 7,000 people, Spaghettini’s in Seal Beach, CA, The Soiled Dove in Denver, CO and the Brown Theatre in the Wortham Center in Houston, TX. In May 2015, she held her CD Release party for Take Me Higher at “The E-Spot,” Sheila E’s new Latin/R&B club in Studio City, CA.
Aysha is also becoming a multi-media star thanks to the success of her internet radio show “Smooth Saturdays with Aysha,” which airs live from 10-12 Saturday mornings on Urban Soul Radio. When she launched in September 2014, the show mostly featured up and coming artists as guests, but she’s slowly added stars and established artists to the mix with Everette Harp, Howard Hewett, Paul Brown, Najee, Blake Aaron, Will Donato, DW3, Nils, U-Nam, Shannon Kennedy, Jackiem Joyner, Gerald Albright, Tony Exum, Jr., Greg Manning and Jay Gore. The show includes interviews and live performances with the guests; one of the most notable shows was the five hour holiday special Aysha hosted last Christmas. Aysha had been a guest on the network’s other shows for years before being presented with this incredible opportunity.
“I love meeting new people and getting the chance to talk to my favorite artists face to face and perform with them in this kind of intimate setting,” Aysha says. “I enjoy learning about their individual journeys and about their process of creating music that brings enjoyment to so many people. As I’ve grown myself as an artist, I appreciate the details that go into that process so much more. It’s always exciting to start writing songs and experience the hard work and joy that is part of watching a project come to fruition. I love recording and performing equally. It’s really wonderful to have the opportunity to share my music with so many people and work with such high caliber musicians and producers. To riff a little on the title, I’m glad to be able to take everyone a little higher with this new album.”