"I just want to get my voice heard again and to allow people to know me outside of a group situation. I also want young girls who look up to me to know not to give up, even when people try and take you away from your destiny." -LeToya
As an original member of Destiny's Child, LeToya co-wrote the group's signature songs "Bills Bills Bills" and "Say My Name." Now, with her self-titled solo album, the powerful singer wants millions of her fans to again be saying her name. That's why after a few years away from the music industry spotlight, the Houston native felt that naming her album LeToya would be the best way to reintroduce herself. "It's the world's first time hearing me and getting to know me as a solo artist," she says, "so what better way to get them to know me than call it LeToya?"
LeToya flexes her soulful roots on lead single "Torn," the most emotional and personal song on the album. LeToya's vocals and lyrics detail the struggle she's experiencing in a strained relationship that means the world to her. She was inspired to write as soon as she heard the beat, which features a sample of The Stylistics' classic "You Are Everything."
"'You Are Everything' is one of those songs that just makes you smile, that makes you fall in love," she explains. "In a sense, it made me feel in love, but I had to twist it up a little bit. "'Torn' is a ballad about a girl who is in a relationship and is totally in love with her man. She's been down with him for so long, but he just can't get it together. He's taking her through the motions after she's been through the ups and downs with him. She's coming to the point where she realizes that she needs to love herself more than she loves anyone else. She's really torn in between staying with him and completely leaving him alone."
The rest of LeToya contains a quality mix of musical sounds and styles. As part of the biggest selling group of the last decade, the ones who helped put Houston on the modern music map, LeToya felt it was important to rep her city throughout her album. No song does a better job of that than "Gangsta Grill." The future smash features Mike Jones and Killa Kyleone, and features LeToya saluting her city, from the grills to the cars to the type of men found there to the city's homegrown music.
"This song is straight Houston," LeToya gushes. "The producer, TA, is from Houston. Mike Jones, Kyleone and myself, we're all from Houston. Plus, no female artist has taken the whole Screwed Up style and used it for an R&B record. Since I came up on that music, DJ Screw and Michael Watts from Swishahouse, I had to put that on my album. That's all we used to jam."
With the upbeat, Scott Storch-produced "I'm Good," LeToya dismisses a no-good man, while on the sassy "She Don't," she sings from the perspective of a woman who realizes that her man will never find a woman on her level. She then explores the pain that comes with a haphazard engagement on the moving ballad "Obvious."
"Every time I play that song for a girl that's engaged, she's like, 'Girl, that's how I feel,'" LeToya explains. "A lot of girls go through that. A lot of times, guys see those rings as pacifiers. They're like, 'OK, we've been over this two, three-year limit of a relationship. I guess it's time for me to marry you. I guess that's the next step.' They don't look at it like, 'I'm so glad God has blessed me with a woman like you. I don't want you to go anywhere. I want you right here with me.'"
But LeToya knows that love is the greatest joy. That's why she included "This Song" on LeToya. On this smooth, sensuous cut, LeToya lets her man know that she's ready for a romantic evening of lovemaking. As much as she enjoys the song, it was difficult for her to sing. "It's hard for me to talk about sex," she says. "They had to push me to do that record. I did it, but I did it in my own little way. The girl in the story is playing a record that she did specifically to get him in the mood. She's telling him how the night is going on. She's got the candles and the lingerie on, so she's going to take it home for him."
Taking it back to the club, LeToya delivers two more uptempo smashes with "Tear Da Club Up" with Bun B and "All Eyes On Me," which features Paul Wall and Slim Thug. The latter is tailor made for a night on the town. "That song is about how I feel when I'm going in the club," LeToya says. "I've got my jewels on, I've got my girls and we're like, 'Let's make this look like a video real quick.' Actually, that's what I was picturing in my mind when I wrote the song."
Long before she started making club music, LeToya was singing in her local church. After her father, also a singer, spread the word that his daughter had skills, LeToya was surprised to have an opportunity to sing her first solo in her own church. She was only 5, after all. "The lady just gave me the mic one Sunday and I sang," she recalls. "Right after that, I joined the children's choir and started doing all the school plays. That's where I met Beyonce, in elementary school. I saw that I had a love for music."
LeToya and Beyonce went on to become integral members of Destiny's Child. LeToya remained with the group for seven years. During her stint, the group released the gold-certified singles "Bills Bills Bills" and "Say My Name," both of which LeToya co-wrote and appeared on the breakthrough The Writing's On The Wall album, which has been certified 8-times platinum in the United States.
"I was happy to have that experience and to be a part of a movement like that," LeToya says. "Being in that group taught me so much at a young age. I learned to have the mindset of focusing on making a successful album and to do whatever you had to do in order to get there, whether that was waking up at 6 o'clock in the morning to sing or going to vocal lessons when you really wanted to hang out with your friends."
After leaving the group before the release of its third album, LeToya opened up her successful clothing and accessory store Lady Elle in Houston. Now, with LeToya ready, LeToya will again have the world saying her name.
--- from the official LeToya website