Soul Comes to Wilton Drive

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Jazz, R&B, pop, soul…whatever genre of music you can imagine, it’s imbedded in the voices of LeNora Jaye and Antonio Edwards -- singers who perform weekly at the cabaret room at Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar in Wilton Manors.

Often called “human juke boxes” by their fans, the duo have the ability to sing almost any song upon request, much to the delight of Alibi bar patrons nursing their drink while taking in some soul.

The musical duo is getting ready for their upcoming holiday show, "LeNora's Lads and Ladies," which will take place at 9 p.m. Dec. 6 on the main stage of the Alibi/Monkey Bar, 2266 Wilton Dr. Jaye will perform with Edwards and several other of her male and female duet partners in the show, which is a holiday-themed charity performance for Grateful Paws, a pet rescue organization in Wilton Manors.

In advance of the event, SFGN caught up with Jaye and Edwards to learn about their musical background and what motivates the duo to perform soul music on Wilton Drive. Here's what we found out:

 

LENORA JAYE

Jaye grew up in a musical household. Her mother and two sisters played a role in nurturing her vocal gift as a toddler.

"At around age 7, I began to realize that singing was something favorable for me," Jaye said. "Up until then, I was obsessed with being a ballerina. [There was] lots of ballet on PBS back then. I started to notice that people asked me to sing more than they asked me to dance. Because my family sang around the house, I thought it was pretty routine to be able to sing."

Jaye was chosen last May to present a month-long seminar in South Africa on American music styles. She has worked almost every venue in South Florida with her trio, Ladies of Soul, and has done a "Sammy & Ella" jazz show with Dezhon Fields, a Sammy Davis Jr. tribute entertainer.

Jaye recently released original music on a four-song EP called "Force of Life" with TransPhatt Records. The album is available on iTunes and Amazon.

"I've tried to always sing from the heart, engage genuinely with my audience, be mindful and respectful of venue staff and management and be responsive and follow up when there are new opportunities, as well as surveying if new opportunities exist," Jaye said.

The songstress says she feels good knowing she's brought more attention to R&B, soul and Motown to the LGBT community in Wilton Manors.

"I absolutely feel gratified in representing those genres of soul music in Wilton Manors," Jaye said. "I've discovered there is such a love for this music and how much it can connect us."

 

ANTONIO EDWARDS

Edwards consistently works the nightclub circuit in New York and Chicago and has won many pageants and competitions. His brothers sing and write songs. At age 5, Edwards would find himself singing along to the choir as they were rehearsing at his church, where his grandfather was a Baptist minister.

"People began to tell me I could sing. Later in my teenage years, I really developed my talent as a vocalist," he said.

Edwards says he decided to pursue singing as his full-time job in September 2015. He started at Georgie's Alibi and now also works at Casablanca Cafe, The National Hotel in South Beach and Broken HEEL. Edwards is also the music director at his church, Center for Spiritual Living in Fort Lauderdale.

The vocalist says he's happy that audiences in Wilton Manors have started to appreciate other genres of music, including R&B and soul.

"We tend to only lean towards Broadway, disco and female songs in our [LGBT] community and it's nice to see other music appreciated," Edwards said. "I love sharing songs with my audience that they may not yet be familiar with."

On working with LeNora Jaye, Edwards says his love for his singing partner "goes deep."

"She is such a lovely person and a joy to work with," he said. "She actually brings out my best. I sing better when I'm with her because she raises the bar so high...I have no choice but to rise up to meet her. I sincerely hope we continue working together and perhaps one day record together."


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