Wednesday, March 8, 2023

"If You Leave Me Now" by Jaya

Song#:  4069
Date:  10/14/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  44
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Freestyle

Pop Bits:  Maria Luisa Ramsey was born in the Philippines and spent the majority of her younger life there. Her parents separated when she was a young child. Maria's mother, Elizabeth, was an entertainer and by the age of 10, Maria was performing in her mom's shows. Then before she was a teenager, Maria started doing background vocals for other artists and eventually began performing solo. The pair would make a move to the US in '85 and while attending school Maria would get work backing up Filipino artists that were performing in the L.A. area. After graduating high school, Maria took off for NYC and landed a job as a background vocalist for freestyle artist Stevie B. He took an interest in Maria and got her a record deal with his label LMR. Around this time, she would get a new name - Jaya. Stevie B would produce and co-write this debut single that was released in the fall of '89. The track would gain enough attention to get on the Pop chart. It then made a long slow climb upward until finally peaking at #44. The single would spend a lengthy 26 weeks on the chart, which was highly unusual for a tune that peaked outside of the Top 40. Its extended stay on the chart was due to the song catching on in various markets at different times. As it would peak in certain cities, the tune was getting traction in other areas. With the single doing well, Jaya was given the go-ahead for assembling a debut album. Stevie B would product and co-write most of the tracks for a self-titled debut. A second single, "One Kiss Per Minute," would get to #24 at Dance, but would fail to make the Pop chart. A third single didn't chart at all. With those results, the album was unable to chart. After a one-off single in '93 failed to do anything, Jaya's US recording career came to an end.

ReduxReview:  This was right in line with other Stevie B tracks. A good freestyle jam with a hooky chorus. It was nothing that was going to become a major mainstream hit, but it was something that would please fans of freestyle. Stevie B also took a bit of liberty in showcasing his voice in the last part of the song, so that was a bit of a promotional push for both him and Jaya. Further singles didn't excite listeners and Jaya promptly disappeared. Oddly, that may have been fortunate as she ended up doing very well back home (see below).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While her singing career in the US was short-lived, Jaya would become highly successful back home. In 1995, she got the opportunity to return to the Philippines to record an album. Released in the summer of '96, her second self-titled album would become a huge hit. It would go 9x platinum and become the biggest selling album by a female artist in the Philippines; a record she would hold until 1999. The LP is still ranked in the Top 10 of the biggest selling LPs of all time in the Philippines. Jaya's third album, 1997's In the Raw, would also be a major hit going 5x platinum. The success of the two albums made Jaya a huge star and she would go on to win eight Awit Awards (the sort of Grammys of the Philippines). Jaya would continue to record albums while also branching out to hosting several TV shows and even acting in a comedy/drama/musical series.


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