R&B singer Lumidee rejects one-hit-wonder tag
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Lumidee has overcome much more serious obstacles than being labeled a one-hit wonder.
The singer/rapper/songwriter, a native of New York's Spanish Harlem neighborhood, was born Lumidee Cedeno. At 14, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis -- after being misdiagnosed with lupus. Five years later, she was told she would never walk again. Then at 22, she had both hips replaced. During this period, which included three years of home schooling, Lumidee discovered and honed her talent for writing.
Now, nearly four years after notching her sole R&B/pop hit -- 2003's dancehall-vibed "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh!)" -- Lumidee is channeling "Dirty Dancing" and trading beats and oohs with Jim Jones, Snoop Dogg and Wyclef Jean on her second CD, "Unexpected" (TVT).
"It was too much too soon the last time around," Lumidee says. "I wasn't ready. I didn't know what was expected of me as an artist. This time I know."
Lumidee is already making a showing on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with "She's Like the Wind." The song (currently No. 87) was co-written and recorded by "Dirty Dancing" actor/dancer Patrick Swayze for the 1987 movie's original soundtrack.
Inspiration for the left-field cover came from Mach One Records, an overseas independent label Lumidee began working with after leaving Universal in 2004. Recognizing the song from a demoed version she was given, "Dirty Dancing" fan Lumidee was asked to find another collaborator and come up with something. She called Tony Sunshine.
"We'd been talking about working together but hadn't been able to," Lumidee says. "But he loved the idea of doing something with this song."
Originally, the track and the album were going to be released only in Europe. Leaked in the United States while a deal was being shopped here, "She's Like the Wind" helped land Lumidee at TVT's door.
Calling "Unexpected" her first real album, Lumidee notes this isn't "one single and then out" like the first time. She cites several other single-worthy songs on the album.
Among them is percolating club banger "I'm Up" featuring "Ballin"' rapper Jones. Labelmate Pitbull joins her on "Crazy," while longtime friend N.O.R.E. appears on "You Got Me." Snoop (whom Lumidee calls "the icing on the cake") appears on the disc with "I'm in It for the Money." Lumidee also duets with another voice from the not-so-distant past -- Shaggy -- for the album's second cover, Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love."
It's too soon to tell how far Lumidee will go this time. But there's no discounting her survival instincts.
"I never stopped doing my music," she says. "People put me in a box, and I've been fighting ever since to get out of it. I'm here now, and I'm ready."
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