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Doggy Style Records

Latoiya Williams

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."