Every caterpillar goes through its own path of metamorphosis. Once it spins its own cocoon, it emerges as a unique and beautiful butterfly – taking flight with grace and confidence into a new world of possibility.
Emerge Linda Styles who began singing professionally at the age of 14, with a group called The Sweet and Sticky Band. Their first gig was at The Inferno Lounge, a nightclub in Kansas City, Missouri. On break, the musicians had to sit on the side of the stage because they weren’t old enough to be anywhere else in the club. The talent of the young singer had begun to truly blossom, and from that moment, she never looked back.
The Kansas City native was born into a musical family. Styles’ mother was a professional singer, who stopped her singing career to start a family. Her daughter never had a chance to hear her sing as she died when Styles was very young. “I made a vow in my mom’s honor that I would never stop singing,” recalled Styles. “Regardless of where life took me, I vowed I would continue to pursue this dream. And with God’s blessing, I have.”
The versatile singer has carried forth this promise, working independently, and with various bands and vocal groups over the years. Styles has shared the stage with countless local and national artists, including Ron Ivory and the Miles Apart Band, Hazel Miller, Dotsero, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, Kim Waters, Nelson Rangell, Tommy Thomas, Donald Harrison, Atlantic Star, The Platters, The Drifters, The Coasters, and Latin Jazz Pianist Eddie Palmieri.
In 1999, Styles co-wrote and produced her first single CD self-titled Linda, and in 2001, participated in a compilation CD with Eric Epps, Life’s Story, co-writing and performing six songs. She released her CD You’re the One in September 2005, and is currently working on her next CD release scheduled for fall 2016.
Styles was honored in 2003 by the Colorado Black Women for Political Action at the 24th Annual Tribute to Black Women Luncheon, receiving the Cultural Arts award in recognition of her outstanding service achievements and contributions to the Denver community.
Over the past several years, Styles has been most known as a vital part of Ron Ivory’s musical ensembles, from Suite ti to One on One. She originally began singing with Ivory in the fall of 1999, having met through a mutual friend when Ivory was looking for a singer.
“Linda is the epitome of a team player in any band,” said Ivory. “She has your back. We became very good friends.”
In 2006, Styles made the decision to take a hiatus from secular music and sing exclusively gospel. In 2012, she came back to her once familiar style of music. “God told me it was time to lay it down for a moment. After six years, I had an awakening and I felt it was ok for me to pick it back up again.” Styles returned to working with Ivory. In addition, she has continued to work with other local musicians.
As much as Styles has gained from and enjoyed this portion of her career, an evolving inner voice began to speak to her, with a message that continued to become louder. It was time for Styles to become her own musical independent entity.
Styles’ recent journey of transformation had a defining moment during the summer of 2015 when she attended a concert in San Diego. “Sitting in the audience, I thought ‘I can do that,’” reflected Styles. “Why am I not doing what they’re doing? I realized the only way for me to get to where they are is for me to make it happen. I have to do the work. I have to get a band together. It’s time for me to take responsibility for me and my career.”
Styles started putting the wheels in motion and shared with friends, family and colleagues her intention of forming her own band. The overwhelming support she received from everyone, including other musicians, was reinforcing and motivated her to continue to take her goals, and herself, to a new level.
“I’ve had people ask me over the years why I didn’t have my own band,” said Styles. “I wasn’t ready yet. I was comfortable and loved working with Ron. Now I need to start writing my own ticket.”
Moving towards her dream and rebirth is what Styles is relentlessly on her course of action to achieve. The Linda Styles Band currently consists of Skip Lynch on drums, Ken Nieves on guitar, Michael White on bass guitar, Paul Taylor on keyboards, and Styles and Shelley McMillion on vocals. Their debut public performance will be at Jazz at Jack’s March on 24.
The Linda Styles Band will play the area club scene, as well as participating in many other venues such as festivals, wedding receptions, private parties, and other events. The band plans to become known for a variety of genres; jazz, R&B, dance, pop, gospel, and perhaps even some country.
Styles visualizes her new band to be outside the box and to develop its own brand of creative flair. “I want our music and performances to always be a dynamic and memorable experience,” said Styles.
Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole, Nancy Wilson and Anita Baker are among Styles’ greatest musical influences. She admires the soulful female legends and their powerhouse voices, and Styles prides herself in stretching herself to sing close to anything in almost any key.
“Her greatest strength is she is very diverse,” said Ivory. “Linda can sing absolutely anything.”
The unfolding development of The Linda Styles Band is its own metamorphosis. The questions of who they are, what will truly set them apart, and who they will ultimately become is still a mystery that Styles embraces in this amazing transformative journey. The continuing evolution of this determined and distinct artist, and that of her band, will be an exciting discovery for everyone to behold, as she spreads her wings on her own path.
Editor’s note: For more information, visit www.lindastyles.me and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/linda.pouncilstyles.