Every once in a while, a voice comes along with the power and emotion to make
the industry stand up and take notice. With a vocal
ability unmatched in today's field, new Doggy Style
recording artist LaToiya will satisfy any thirst for
true vocal talent with the release of her first solo
album. LaToiya has already gotten her feet wet in the
industry with the single, "The Ballad of Jimmy
Bones" on the "Bones" soundtrack, and
other projects for Daz and Kurrupt. Her song "Fallen
Star," will be featured on the forthcoming Doggystyle
Compilation project. With label-mate and friend Soopafly
at the production wheel, LaToiya looks to inspire others
the way music has always inspired her.
The product of singing parents, LaToiya came out of
the womb with perfect pitch in her genes. Born and raised
in Los Angeles, her church home is the Tree of Life
Missionary Baptist Church about 20 miles south of Los
Angeles in the city of Watts. It was there where LaToiya's
raw youthful energy and vocal strength were spiritually
seasoned. "I was always loud, the loudest person
in the choir," laughs LaToiya of her early days
in The Voices of Watts Choir. "Everybody knew me.
Plus, I would just sing around the house, sing, sing,
sing, sing, sing-Yolanda Adams, Vanessa Bell Armstrong,
everything. I was in the choir at my private school,
and in the church. I still sing with the choir today.
Whenever I'm in town, that's where I am."
The performance part of LaToiya's career began at the
age of four when she belted out her first church solo,
"Feel Me Jesus." "They put me on a stool
because I was so short," she chuckles. At 15, she
was singing background for Yolanda Adams. "Yolanda
was the first gig I ever had. Whenever she came out
here, she requested me to sing with her." Then
at age 18, she got the call to audition for the Gladys
Knight camp. "The audition was easy," remembers
LaToiya. "Gladys wasn't there, it was just me and
the musical director. I sang `Amazing Grace'-Aretha
Franklin's version, and brought tears to his eyes."
Just like that, LaToiya was off, touring with the legendary
vocalist and even performing with Gladys during her
starring turn in the Broadway musical, "Smokey
Joe's Caf‚." But what did the folk back at
Tree of Life think about their baby earning a living
singing secular music? "They had a problem when
I first got the gig because Gladys is like `the industry,'"
she says. "They was like, `Oh my God, we don't
want you going out there into the world.' But when I
started traveling and everything, they were like, `LaToiya
not doing so bad! Go on out there and do what you gotta
do girl.' They had my back after that. Now, they have
every song I've ever sung. The songs with Snoop Dogg?
Everybody in the church got it. They even tell me songs
they want me to redo," she laughs. "My church
family loves me, and they know I'm not straying because
I'm still there."
LaToiya and her mentor, Soopafly, are busy working
on her first full-length solo album for Doggystyle Records.
The two met each other through her Godbrother, who played
bass for Snoop's ol' Dogg Pound camp. "He sent
Soopafly a demo because he was looking for an artist,
and ever since then, it's been on," she says. "He
writes the lyrics and I paint it for him."
For her own project, LaToiya plans to separate herself
from the current r&b pack with a vintage style that
recalls the great r&b vocalists of the past. "It's
not gospel, but it's real soulful," LaToiya explains
of her forthcoming solo album. "You'll think of
Aretha Franklin. You'll think of Gladys Knight, Johnny
Taylor, Billie Holiday and Nancy Wilson. I'm going back
to where they wore gowns on stage, trying to put a positive
image out there for these young people. I know they're
getting tired of seeing these women with no clothes
on. That gets played out. "
LaToiya's style will certainly be a breath of fresh
air, but will a pure, to-the-bone vocalist be able to
survive in today's MTV generation where sex sells over
vocal ability? "Maybe it will be a problem,"
says LaToiya, "but once you hear my voice, you'll
overlook all that. When you hear me singing, you ain't
gonna worry about whether I have clothes on or not."