With every bit of energy and excitement one would
associate with any eighteen-year-old on the verge of a promising career, new
songbird Ericka Yancey pours every ounce of her talent-packed being into the
sensual, warm and loving grooves that comprise her enticing, self-titled
("Ericka") RCA Records debut disc. Coming out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the
same place which brought us the phenomenal DeBarge family in the 80's, and the
sensational Adina Howard in the 90's, Ericka continues the tradition with an
emotion-packed, seasoned vocal style comparable to song stylists twice her age.
Her big voice is obvious upon first impression. "I feel whatever I sing," the
church-reared Ericka explains. "I make whatever I sing my song regardless of who
wrote it. And that's about it." Hearing Ericka is all the proof one would need.
Singing for almost as long as she could speak, Ericka's debut set
wastes no time establishing a young talent with all the gusto it takes to one day
join the ranks of R&B veterans. Much like those innumerable, soulful greats,
Ericka's vocal initiation took place on the church pulpit at the tender age of
five. Led by her very spiritual mother, Ericka recalls, "I didn't have a choice
of whether to go to church or not, but I'm glad I was made to go, because that's
where the singing started. Everybody said they could tell by the way that I sang
that I was going to be a singer." In fact, anyone who attended the Missionary
Baptist Church knew. Ericka's mature pipes could be heard performing solos every
Sunday, and she's quick to tell you that they're all on tape. With the
performance bug deeply imbedded, there was no stopping this dynamic show-stopper
from singing, and everyone within earshot knew it. Though she admittedly only
participated in one talent show, she'll quickly counter, "I've always done
weddings and funerals. Whenever we had a cousin graduating, or anything special,
I always had to sing." There are also vivid memories of everyone, from family
members to the church's pastor, offering her vocal services, for which she'd
ambitiously oblige. If it wasn't her favorite gospel selection ("Jesus Loves
Me"), she could be regularly heard crooning and wailing her own rendition of "The
Greatest Love Of All" by her musical influence, Whitney Houston. "She's my
favorite singer because she's phenomenal, with both her voice and her style"
Her childhood dream quickly led to a path of reality when her
thoroughly impressed godmother, who knew a talent manager, called Ericka's
immense talent to his attention. "He introduced me to the rest of the management
team, we started making a demo, and then we shopped it to various places."
During that time, RCA Records Senior Vice President of Black Music, Kevin Evans,
got his hands on her demo, and the wheels have been in motion ever since.
After Evans made good on his promise to sign her, and following
her relocation to Los Angeles, Ericka immediately went to work on her sparkling
debut disc with recognized producers like Michael Powell (of Anita Baker fame),
Keith Andes (known for his work with Babyface, After 7, etc.), Grand Jury
Productions' Gerald Baillergeau, Victor Merritt and Brandon Hill, Chris Liggio
(from Dave "Jam" Hall's camp), as well as newcomers Pete Scott and Jason Hess.
Perhaps providing an early taste of her youthful, yet mature, vocalizing,
listeners may have heard Ericka singing background vocals on femme rapper
MisBeHave's "Can U Handle Dis," which appears on RCA's Phuture Flava Vol.1 set.
As for her pending debut, the only challenge was exposing her warm and earthy
personality. From the perspective of someone who readily performed for any
audience she could as a child, Ericka had no problems adjusting to the recording
studio. "I love it," she says. " I love both people seeing me when I'm singing
songs, and also working in the studio, because you'll never get the same vibe in
those two very different settings." She even quickly developed her own technique
for getting comfortable enough to give her best performance. "I have this
'tradition' where I put candles all around the booth and I turn the lights off.
That's how I get my biggest vibe." So creatively charged was Ericka that,
unbeknownst to her, she possessed another talent º songwriting. Not only did she
co-write her premier single, the finger- popping "So Good," with Victor Merritt,
but the two also penned the "classic soul-induced" "Not Gonna Beg." Mainly
comprised of well - packed mid tempo jams and straight-to-the-heart slow songs,
"Ericka" comes equipped with the no-joke goods. Of the latter, those urgent,
effortless, soul-stirring vocals find their way through everything from the
oh-so-sensuous "I Like" and sultry, moving "If Only," to the infectious, sweet
"Wait A While" and the undoubtedly touching R&B / pop balladry of "Longing For
You." "I cried while recording that song," she admits, "because the backgrounds
come in with such a big rush and they're just so pretty." In a more youthful,
contemporary mode, Ericka proves she can rock a party with the chunky,
jeep-beat-driven "All In All," the slow-bouncin' "Make You Mine" and the
easy-groovin' urban R&B of "Moving On." With every passing track, it becomes
clear that Ericka has all the vital ingredients needed to be considered a serious
vocal contender in today's highly competitive market.
Ericka's debut release provides all we need to know about this
fast-rising young vocalist º that voice. Outside of her obvious blessings, like
a ready diva-to-be, she feels compelled to express her love of what she's doing.
"I love music! You know how you love God, but can't see Him? And you're
supposed to love your neighbor and all that? It's like I'm loving a neighbor
that I've never seen." Yet it's her goals she's even more straightforward about.
"I want to be well-known, I want to be respected; I want to be a positive role
model for the youth of today. When you really believe in something and have
faith, all things are possible". No doubt -- the sky's the limit for Ericka