Song of the Day: Lady Wray – Do It Again

photo by Aviva Klein

photo by Aviva Klein

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unrealeased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Do It Again” by Lady Wray, from her 2016 album, Queen Alone, via Big Crown Records.

Lady Wray – Do It Again (MP3)Virginia-raised and Missy Elliott-discovered, Lady Wray (aka Nicole Wray) has been soulfully leasing her powerful pipes to the R&B genre since she was fifteen, but the ride hasn’t been as smooth as her voice. Starting when Missy Elliott paid her a visit for a home audition, Nicole Wray made her industry breakthrough on Elliott’s 1998 platinum-selling album Supa Dupa Fly singing backing vocals on “Gettaway.” Shortly after this hit, Wray was Elliott’s first pick for an artist to sign to her own label The Goldmine, which yielded Wray’s 1998 debut full-length, Make It Hot, produced by Missy Elliott and Timbaland.

Since her 1998 debut, she’s had to navigate the rocky and unpredictable waters of the music industry. She’s had to go it alone for a while and re-make a name for herself. So she did, despite many trials and tribulations in her personal and professional life, in the form of a hitting the hustle hard. In that hustle, she sang backups for a whole host of big names like The Black Keys on Brothers and Kid Cudi, and in 2013 collaborated with Terri Walker in a new neo-soul duo called LADY. After Walker and Wray went their separate ways, Wray had to go it alone again, which is where we meet her now with her bootstraps pulled up once again on her 2016 LP, Queen Alone, her first solo album since 1998.

Queen Alone presents like Lady Wray’s bold interpretation of herself and long history within the music industry. She expresses, “It’s a reflection of my soul. It’s who I am today.” Despite her major ups and downs, she continues to create a healing, tried-and-true style of R&B such as the second track on her album called “Do It Again” that is both realistically cynical, but grounded in optimistic hope with the lyrics, “We roll the dice / And we lost in the end / Though our luck has run out / I would do it again.” With strong horn hooks and the thread of percussive, yet sensual piano throughout, Lady Wray captivates her listeners her stunningly refined and matured instrument of a voice that captures that empathetic pains and passions of life. “Do It Again” is followed on the album by “Smiling,” which champions the uplifting of the soul in the chorus “Just keep on smiling.” It’s that same wellspring that Lady Wray writes and wins the race on a four-minute ditty like “Do It Again” and showing us the fearless power to be Queen Alone.

Lady Wray doesn’t seem to have any upcoming shows at the moment, but you can always check out what she’s up to and thinking via her Facebook page. In the meantime, check out the video below of her sanguine anthem “Smiling” also from Queen Alone below.

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