The soulful spark that surrounds Elise LeGrow’s voice is provocative and alluring. The Canadian singer is about to release her debut album titled Playing Chess via S-Curve Records/Awesome Music on February 16. Drawing inspiration from the celebrated Chicago label, Chess Records, LeGrow cultivated several songs from their catalogue and set out to reinterpret them. Shown on her already-released rendition of Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” LeGrow is ready to breathe new life into timeless songs.
The suggestion of reimagining classic songs from artists like Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Martha Reeves may seem intimidating to others, but LeGrow basks in the challenge. “All the songs on the album are somewhat new,” she says of her collection. “We really wanted to go in a different route than the original recordings.” By focusing on the artists included in Chess Records’ catalogue, LeGrow allowed herself to explore a variety of music, which is what excited her. “They have such a breadth of artists on the label. I had the opportunity to dig into really early rock and roll like Chuck Berry, but also really soulful stuff like The Moonglows and Etta James,” she says.
The newest single off Playing Chess is “Over The Mountain, Across The Sea,” originally recorded by Johnnie & Joe. “It’s a beautiful love song. I love the imagery of me calling out to the trees, grass and the wind; these elemental features that really help center the song,” LeGrow says of her version. With an elegance behind her vocals and a genuine love of music, LeGrow offers a sophisticated style on “Over The Mountain, Across The Sea.” With the help of musical icons like The Roots, The Dap-Kings and Betty Wright, LeGrow is prepared to resurrect some of Chess Records’ top songs through her album Playing Chess. Listen to “Over The Mountain, Across The Sea” below.