Earlier this fall, Nicole Wray released Queen Alone under the name Lady Wray.
Queen Alone is Wray’s first full-length as Lady Wray, but she has the better part of two decades of experience in a mercurial music industry behind her.
Missy Elliot discovered Wray in the mid-90s, after flying to Wray’s hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia, and auditioning the singer in her family home. Following the audition, an impressed Missy Elliot featured Wray on her 1997 album, Supa Dupa Fly, and produced Wray’s own debut album, Make It Hot.
Though Make It Hot‘s title track hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the RIAA, Wray only released a single record with Missy Elliot before the two parted ways. This would be the first of many bumps in the road. Between 2001 and 2015, Wray would sign with Roc-A-Fella only to be dumped by the label before she was able to release an album, and release a well-received album on Truth & Soul with Terri Walker under the name LADY only to have Walker leave the project just before the beginning of a tour.
Wray took charge following Walker’s departure and toured as LADY on her own, using it as an opportunity to display her impressive voice and songwriting ability. Now, three years after Lady, Wray has a new solo album out: Queen Alone.
A brilliant collection of retro soul tracks, Queen Alone is a virtuosic display of skill from—as the album credits her—Lady Wray. In an interview with Wax Poetics, Danny Akalepse, acclaimed DJ and co-founder of the label that released Queen Alone, described Wray’s “Do It Again” as “one of the most asked-about songs that I have” and said he plays it “right next to Jay Z records; right next to Dilla records.”
Lady Wray has seen her dreams frustrated by shifting fortunes many times over, but Queen Alone succeeds by taking those very frustrations and sublimating them into a gorgeous album backed by a strong artistic voice.