While the name Nicole Wray, aka Lady Wray, may be new to some, her presence on the scene has been bending ears since she was fifteen. Discovered by Missy Elliot in her hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia, Lady Wray was put on the fast track to a well-deserved gold record by the age of 17. But this early victory only marked the beginning of a tumultuous career.

The endeavors that followed were short-lived: A signing with Roc-A-Fella Records and a collaborative project with Terri Walker both saw their ends before coming to fruition. Yet, in the face of adversity, Wray forged ahead, singing in spite of sorrows. Just as a person is the accumulation of their experiences, her next effort would serve as a reflection of her trials.

Queen Alone blossoms early with the opening track “It’s Been a Long Time,” which marries an aching tenderness with inviting vulnerability. She belts, “It took a while, but I’ve got it now,” embracing her past struggles over triumphant horns. This sets the tone for the record with “Underneath My Feet” and “Smiling” serving up a slow-burning R&B flavor. The independent stance of the album sees a late apex with “Bad Girl” as our Lady proclaims, “I’ve been bad and I don’t care / Just watch me now…”

Lady Wray will be hitting Mezzanine alongside Lee Fields & the Expressions on December 3. Her album is available for purchase here.

Lee Fields & the Expressions, Lady Wray, Holy Hive
December 3, 2016
8:30pm, $25 (21+)