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  Falisa entered the stage dancing to funky opening bars of Shoorah! Shoorah!, and the irresistible groove, created by Anthony Paule’s Soul Orchestra, continued on Stevie Wonder’s I Wish.  The show-stopping song, however, was an impassioned rendition of If Loving You Is Wrong, which included a flirting interplay with the drummer D’Mar and the MC Rick Hutton at the end.  A fiery and literally jumping delivery of Jackie Wilson’s Baby Workout closed Falisa’s stint in Porretta, Italy, on Friday evening on July the 21st in 2017.  On Sunday evening this beautiful and very lovable “energizer bunny” still came back for I Wish and Baby Workout.


  “My birth name is Farlisa Monroe.  My legal name is Farlisa Webber, and I was born August 4th in 1979 to Rucker Wilburn – now deceased – and my mother Hattie Martin in Crawford, Mississippi.  I’m the only girl.  I have four brothers, and two beautiful children.” 

  Crawford is a small country town with a population of around 650 these days, and the closest city in the northeast is Columbus.  “It was beautiful growing up in Crawford.  I was just a little country girl, running around in school, singing and listening to Shirley Caesar, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.  When I was about seven, my mom put me on the Sunbeam Choir in a little church in Crawford, St. James Baptist Church.  They would give me the microphone and stand me out in the front at the choir and they would ask me just to sing, so it came natural from there.”  Falisa’s other big favourites include Angela Winbush and Aretha Franklin.

  Falisa met her husband at an early age, at around fourteen.  “I left Crawford in 1992.  I moved everywhere: Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit...  I was just a kid travelling and having fun.  My ex-husband – I’m a single woman now - was in military, and that’s how I ended up in Germany in 2000.  When I was there, I met this nice lady by the name of Carol Hicks, and she owned a hair salon in Hanau and she started doing my hair.  Later on down the road she came to Atlanta, Georgia, to the Bronner Brothers Hair Fashion Show, and I was one of her models.”

  “When I came from Germany in 2002, my brothers had a rap group, the Crawford Boyz, and that’s how I got my start singing background and hooks on their music with 35/35 Productions.  That’s a company that Clarence Weatherspoon owns, and it’s based out of Jackson, Mississippi.”  Clarence is a former NBA basketball player, who was also born in Crawford.  Falisa toured and worked with her brothers and cousins – Rush, Pollo, Moe, Stick. E Smooth, Cadillac John, J-Money - for about five years, and they even released a 6-track CD on Clarence’s 35*35 label, including such songs as Butt Naked, Falling, I Got You, You Are Not The One and Love Me, which Falisa wrote.  Actually, many of those members are still active and some are engaged in solo projects these days.  Just check on YouTube “Don’t Trust” by KSG C-Sharp ft. Rush (Falisa’s cousin and brother, respectively).

  Between 2007 and ’09 Falisa was living in Seattle, WA.  “My husband was stationed there at the time.  It’s a beautiful, beautiful state, rains everyday but it’s beautiful.”


  Spelt at that point FaLisa JaNaye, in 2009 she released her first non-hip-hop and first solo record called U Won’t Miss Yo Water, and she also shot a video for it.  This melodic mid-tempo dancer was written by Larome Powers aka Gerald Robinson ( along with Michael Dawson and Morris Williams - who were in charge of the track - and it came out on Larry Anderson’s MiLaJa Records out of Jackson, Tennessee.  “Mr. Sam introduced me to Jazzii Anderson, who introduced me to L.A. Anderson, and that’s how I got my first independent record deal.”

  MiLaJa Records was launched in June 2007 and their first releases were by Miz B and Mr. Sam aka Sam Fallie.  “He’s great.  He’s a great writer and he has a beautiful spirit.  He knows music.  He’s written for so many artists – J. Blackfoot, the Bar-Kays, Archie Love, Falisa Janaye...  When I’m in the studio with him, he understands my vocals, my technique.  It’s his job as a composer and producer to bring the best out of me.”

  Falisa’s first album, Sweet Love, was released in March 2010, and it was co-produced by Mr. Sam.  For the most part it was recorded at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Recording Studios in Memphis.  “Boo Mitchell was my engineer at the time.”  Some tracks were cut also at Loveland Music, also in Memphis.  “Archie Love produced Can’t Nobody, Cowboy and Come to Me.”  Falisa is the co-writer on those two first downtempo songs.  Among musicians you can spot such names as Reginald Wizard Jones on keyboards, Joshua Williams Sr. and Gerod Rayborn on bass and Kenneth “Fuzzy” Jefferies on guitar.

  The second single gave the name for the whole album.  Sweet Love is a sensual, tender ballad, and they shot a video for it, too.  “Out of all my songs my most favourite one is Sweet Love.  I wrote Sweet Love, and Gerald Robinson and Michael Raiford wrote the track for the song.”  The song actually bears a resemblance to some of those delicate ballads that Randy Crawford used to cut.  Can’t Nobody is an impressive and highly emotive love ballad... and another memorable video.  Actually it’s the same song Falisa cut with the Crawford Boyz a few years earlier under the title of Love Me.  The 4th video off the album was shot for a mid-tempo clip-clop song titled Come to Me, written by Loretta “Jazzii” Anderson and Mr. Sam. 

  Tonight Is the Nite is an easily flowing dancer, whereas How Do U Do – featuring Crimson – is a faster and more contemporary beater.  I Will – featuring Mr. Sam – again is a pleasant mid-tempo number, whereas Whind (Wine) is again a more contemporary mid-tempo beater.  And guess what?  Yes, there’s a video for it, shot together with C Style Steppers.  “I did Whind with E-Z Rock, who also plays for the Bar-Kays.”

Falisa Janaye interviewed by Heikki Suosalo (Photo: Pertti Nurmi)


  Sweet Love remained Falisa’s sole album on MiLaJa.  “The contract had ended with L.A. Anderson.  I was doing great pretty much on my own doing a lot of shows and working, so I just decided to go out on my own... and I’ve been to Porretta three times – 2013, 2016 and now in 2017 – with no record label, no booking agency, no manager” (laughing).

  In 2010 Falisa was nominated in two categories of Jus Blues Awards, and soon after that there was talk about the second CD, supposed to be entitled Back to Love.  “We released two singles, and I did shoot the videos for them – Swinging and Stepping and Back to Love.”  The former is a nice dancer, a duet with Walter Waiters, which was released in 2011, and the latter – a nostalgic, pretty ballad – came out two years later.  The video was shot in Crawford, MS, and Falisa’s daughters appear in it.  Still in 2013 they released a video for a hip-hop party song named Swing Step, a sort of hip-hop line dance.  “When people book me for shows, I still do hip-hop.  That’s what I do mostly.  When they have blues festivals, that’s when I do mostly blues.  Hip-hop and r&b is where I got my start, so that’s my favourite.”

  Instead of an album, Falisa kept releasing singles.  In 2012, however, she compiled a double-CD entitled The Best of FaLisa JaNaye’, which is not available in general outlets but only through Falisa’s distribution.  Party 4 Southern Soul is a repetitive southern party song and Falisa’s festive season song for 2012 was a slightly hip-hop flavoured stepper called Christmas Time.  “I did a Christmas single.  I wanted to do a Christmas album, but I ran out of time, because I was so busy working, working, working... so I didn’t have time to go into the studio to do a full Christmas CD.  And I still haven’t had time, because when work calls I have to go.”  The Best of F.J. is a 2-disc box set, which contains not only 12 music tracks but also interviews and four videos for U Won’t Miss Yo Water, Sweet Love, Party 4 Southern Soul and Can’t Nobody.

  In 2013 they released an infectious, vivid dancer called Can U Stand up N It, which is an answer song to Theodis Ealey (Stand up in it).  Written by Falisa and Gerald Robinson, it appeared on Mining Gold Records.  “That’s Larome Powers’ label.  We put in under the Mining Gold Records, so it can be protected.” 

  Falisa’s most recent singles came out in 2016.  “All of my music, my new stuff, falls under Webber Entertainment, because I’m now a solo artist, strictly an independent artist, so everything I’ve done since MiLaJa Records falls under Webber Entertainment – except Can U Stand up N It, which is Mining Gold Records.  Everybody, who knows me back in Mississippi, calls me Lisa Webber.”


  It’s a Shame is an aggressive and big-voiced, funky mid-tempo number.  I’m Gone is an effortless, fast and energetic dancer, while I Love You is a lilting pretty love ballad, produced by Kendall Nesbitt for Panic Switch Entertainment.  “He’s a producer out of Chicago, who wrote these two songs.  I have collaboration with Sir Charles on I Love You, but we haven’t released it yet.  This song actually has a story.  I got off the plane this morning.  I went into the studio in one hour.  I was standing in front of the microphone recording a song I’ve never heard before, and he challenged me vocally on this song.  It became a masterpiece.  We shot the video in Chicago in 15-degree weather on Lake Michigan – freezing gold – and I had to pretend like it’s funny and hot.”

  Besides singing, Falisa has also gained experience as an actress.  “Lawyer Henderson out of Atlanta, Georgia, did an independent movie called The Governor’s Daughter, which actually did pretty good for an independent movie.  I played a reporter in the movie, and I had never done that before, and it was exciting.”  The film came out in 2012.

  “These days I’m still in Mississippi.  I love home.  I’m a country girl.  I perform on most weekends in the summer, and when I’m not performing I’m hosting.  I put together shows, so I’m very busy in the entertainment business.  I work behind the scenes a lot.  I have other artists to make shows to make money” (laughing).

  “I would like to thank Porretta and Graziano Uliani: thank you so, so, so very much for bringing me over here for three times.  Each time I’ve been here the audience has grown and the people have embraced Falisa Janaye.  They have showed me so much love.  They really appreciate sweet soul music.  Graziano really knows how to pick his artists and bring people here to entertain.  I can say coming from my soul and I can speak for all the other artists ‘we really do appreciate it, we love coming and we love to see the smiles on peoples’ face’.  Thank you, I look forward to coming back whenever he needs me.”  (

(Interview conducted on July the 22th; acknowledgements to Falisa and Mike Stephenson).


SWEET LOVE (MiLaJa Records) 2010

U Won’t Miss Yo Water / Sweet Love / Tonight Is The Nite / Can’t Nobody / Whind (Wine) / I Will / How Do U Do / Sweet Love (Lovers Mix) / Cowboy / Come To Me

THE BEST OF F.J. (Webber Ent.; 2-CD) 2012

U Won’t Miss Yo Water / Sweet Love / Party 4 Southern Soul / Can’t Nobody / Swinging and Stepping / Get Down / Sweep Step Song / Party 4 Southern Soul (remix) / Back In The Days / Christmas Song / I Got You / You Are Not The One

Videos: U Won’t Miss Yo Water / Sweet Love / Party 4 Southern Soul / Can’t Nobody

© Heikki Suosalo

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