Chelsea Lenora White (simply Lenora to her family and fans) is proving herself to be one of the most exciting rising singers in the music industry.
The Houston-based crooner has released ‘Relax,’ a smooth tune with a languid feel that gives listeners a carefree, letting go, sensual experience.
Unintentionally reminiscent of Diana Ross’ ‘Love Hangover,’ Lenora’s ‘Relax’ counts as a throwback to the 1970s with enough appeal to make lasting impressions throughout the next decade.
“Just relax,” Lenora sings on the track. “You could do it if you put your mind to it.”
When asked about the connection to Ross, Lenora said she’s a fan, and ‘Love Hangover’ happens to be a song she loves.
“It probably was subconscious for sure,” Lenora says of the similarity the opening of ‘Relax’ has to ‘Love Hangover.’
“When I work with producers, I always will give them something that I have listened to and something that I like, and ‘Love Hangover’ is a song that I like,” she said.
The single contains a bass guitar riff that is also a nod to Marvin Gaye’s, 1976 hit, ‘I Want You.’
By every definition, Lenora is a throwback.
For ‘Relax,’ she introduces an alter ego, ‘Suga’ Love,’ an Afro-wearing Foxy Brown-like character whose looks underscore the fad-happy decade of the 1970s.
“I’m a ’90s baby, but at heart, I’m like a child of the ’70s. That era of music heavily influences me,” she said.
While the ’70s is known for the lack of boundaries, Lenora understands that modern-day artists are under more of a microscope, mostly because of social media.
“I’m cautious. I love that era of music, but it always has to be fresh and new,” Lenora said.
“Even the cover art we use for the single, I thought was tasteful.”
In the cover art, Lenora is in her underwear, but unlike the penchant today to photograph sexy women in thongs and G-strings, she’s decked out in full bottom briefs. She’s also facing away from the camera, so only the back of her bra is revealed.
It’s just another way in which Lenora gets her message across for people to ‘Relax.’
“I draw a parallel between blue cheese and ranch,” Lenora said regarding the line she chooses not to cross when displaying such sensuality in her music.
“A lot of people don’t like blue cheese, but I love blue cheese. But ranch is agreeable to everyone. So, with ‘Relax’ I was like, okay, this record is like my ranch dressing. Everybody can get on board with this.”
Lenora and her team, which includes the influential Houston-based producers, Beanz n Kornbread, and award-winning songwriter Dustin ‘Dab’ Bowie, wrote the hit single in one hour.
Lenora said she just so happened to be in the same studio as Bowie one night, and she eventually played some music for him.
It was a Saturday night in Los Angeles, Lenora explained.
A flight she had scheduled to leave two days later was delayed, so Lenora returned to the studio, and that’s where she and Bowie co-wrote ‘Relax.’
Already, the song has touched listeners in ways Lenora found surprising.
“I feel like music is therapy, music is escapism. I always hope my music will heal and provide therapy,” Lenora said. “A girl told me that the song saved her life. She said that in the song, I remind people to breathe. Some people’s lives are so hectic that they want something for themselves to be able to get away even if they can’t afford to get away physically, the music can provide some of that escapism for them.”
Lenora started singing in Kindergarten and has wowed audiences from her church to local venues in Houston and on into college where she’s classically trained, and where her golden voice mastered the opera.
It might surprise most who have heard her sing that Lenora went through a period of self-doubt and stopped performing.
“I think it was like six years that I didn’t put music out. It was 2017 when I finally started singing again,” Lenora said.
After a self-imposed hiatus, Lenora returned to the spotlight for a special performance in Washington, D.C.
She belted out another Diana Ross tune, ‘Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)’ during the enshrinement ceremony of her late grandmother and former Houston Forward Times publisher, Lenora ‘Doll’ Carter.
The ceremony inducted Carter into the Gallery of Distinguished Black Publishers.
“I knew I couldn’t stay away from music,” Lenora stated. “But, I had management and people telling me to do things that I didn’t necessarily agree with. When I did come back out, I did a performance called ‘Motown and More,’ and it’s a huge deal. There are 40,000 people there over the weekend for that show, and I had never done it before 2017. When I did the audition, they were like, “Who are you?” “Where have you been?” And I realized that this style of music is who I am.”
With a hot new single and tens of thousands of followers on social media, Lenora is on the fast track to superstardom.
“That Motown show opened doors for me in terms of people knowing what I do. ‘Relax’ is the biggest so far for me, it’s getting a lot of radio play,” Lenora said.
“It’s trending in the West Indies and London, and that’s crazy because I’ve never been to any of those places yet. I’m not a brand-new artist, but essentially I am a new artist because I’ve rebranded, I’ve taken a step back.”
‘Relax’ is available on all streaming platforms.