Elise LeGrow’s “Classic R&B”

Elise LeGrow’s “Classic R&B”

To celebrate the release of her debut record, ‘Playing Chess,’ Canadian singer Elise LeGrow has shared with TIDAL a playlist of music that have been an inspiration throughout her life.


Barbara Acklin, “Am I the Same Girl”
I’ve been obsessed with this song for a few years. She tells the sad story of young love grown up. The lyric is melancholic and nostalgia but the music is all swagger, which creates a cool opposition between those elements. This is a great sing-a-long song. Ladies, grab your hairbrush mics!

Bobby Moore, “Searching for My Love”
When I was selecting songs from the Chess Records catalog for my latest album, I came across this incredibly soulful gem by Bobby Moore. The story seems pretty straightforward until – toward the end of the song – he pleads, “Just give me one more try,” and then all of a sudden there’s a sense of desperation, needing to be forgiven. We’ve all been there.

Ernie K-Doe, “Here Come the Girls”
“Lookin so good/it’s a doggone shame that they couldn’t all be mine.” The start of Verse 1 says it all! One of my favourite anthems for me and my girls when we’re strutting from the pre-party.

The Steampacket, “Cry Me a River”
Way better than the JT track by the same name. Watch out, exes! This one cuts like a knife.

Marvin Gaye, ”Ain’t That Peculiar”
A producer friend played this for me a few years back and it made an immediate impression. Kinda like “Am I the Same Girl,” it’s got the same cool opposition of really joyful music paired with a sorrowful lyric. Marvin Gaye was really a master of that and it’s something that I aspire to be better at in my own work.

Martha Reeves, “Come And Get These Memories”
I have a 4-side Martha Reeves anthology that my neighbours hear a lot. She (and the Vandellas) are some of my favourite recording artists. I really love the storytelling in this song. She describes in detail specific objects, a love letter, a teddy bear, and the painful memories they evoke. I say burn it, baby!

Stevie Wonder, “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”
Can’t do an R&B playlist without some Stevie Wonder, and this is one of my favourites of his. It’s a sweet little love song about a boy living in relative poverty whose true worth, his good heart, is valued by his rich girlfriend. You may have to be a romantic like me to appreciate the story, but the music is universally likable. If you don’t like it, check your pulse.

Wilson Pickett, “In The Midnight Hour”
Those horns! So good! As if you needed another reason to stay up late.

Aretha Franklin, “I Say a Little Prayer”
The Queen of Soul at her finest. Every time I hear this song, my head is filled with gorgeous ’60s fashion, hair and make up. But I also love Lianne La Havas’ stripped down live version, which brings the song into the 21st century.

Fontella Bass, “Rescue Me”
Another Chess Records classic, it’s one of those recordings where the best part happened by accident (the call-and-response section in the middle of the song was completely improvised because Fontella forgot the words!). It embodies one of the universal truths of creativity, which I had to learn the hard way: the best stuff comes when you stop thinking so much and let the magic happen.


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