Amel Larrieux is a singer-songwriter and keyboardist. Born Amel Eliza Stowell in March of 1973 in New York City, Larrieux was raised an only child in Manhattan. She rose to fame in the mid-1990s as a founding member of the duo Groove Theory along with Bryce Wilson. Their debut release, Groove Theory, spawned several radio hits such as “Tell Me”, “Keep Tryin'”, and “Baby Luv”. The duo was featured in successful motion picture soundtracks, such as 1996’s Sunset Park and 1997’s Love Jones. Along with husband Laru Larrieux, Amel co-wrote and co-produced her debut solo album Infinite Possibilities, released in February of 2000 on Epic Records. The album reached number 79 on the Billboard 200 and number 21 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, producing the hit “Get Up,” her highest-charting solo hit to date. In late 2003, together, they founded the independent label Blisslife Records, on which Amel has released four albums.
Amel’s African-American mother, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, is a dance critic, author, and college instructor. Her father is of French, English, and Scottish descent. Larrieux was raised in a very artistic environment and was surrounded by talented and inspirational artists. Many of her influences are drawn from rhythm and blues, soul, jazz, folk, hip hop, and gospel with flashes of Middle Eastern, West African, and Indian ethnic styles. She has often been documented for describing her music as “Amel’s music”. Her forename Amel means “hope” in Arabic. Larrieux cites Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, Sade, Rickie Lee Jones, Stevie Wonder, Shawn Colvin, Chaka Khan, John Lennon, Patrice Rushen, Jimi Hendrix, and Joni Mitchell as her musical influences.
Larrieux’s experiences have informed her as a writer. This fine lady covered “Sophisticated Lady” for the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness. She guested on Sade’s backing band Sweetback album, yielding the single “You Will Rise.” She’s been featured on 2Pac’s greatest hits album, on the unreleased song “Resist the Temptation.” Her third album Morning was released in 2006 featuring the single “Weary”, which reached number 29 on the Billboard Hot Adult R&B Airplay chart. Morning is her highest-charting album to date. The song “No One Else” was featured on the soundtrack to Tyler Perry’s 2007 film “Why Did I Get Married?.” The very next year Larrieux released Lovely Standards. It broke into the top five of the Top Jazz Albums and sold 3,700 units in its first week of release.
Larrieux’s “Where Is the Love” re-make collaboration with Stanley Clarke and Glenn Lewis, received a nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2004 Grammy Awards. Larrieux’s song “Don’t Let Me Down” was used in the 2014 film Beyond the Lights.
Amel Larrieux stays on the road a lot. That’s good, because she’ll be making a two-show, same-night appearance at the City Winery downtown this Friday night. Get there!!!