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Put an angelic voice, a professional work ethic and bewitching good looks together and you get the phenomenon that is Dionyza (pronounced dee-on-juh). The Los Angeles native was literally born into music as the daughter of songwriters Michael and Brenda Sutton. Though never pushed into the business by her folks, she inherited its finest points and practices to become one 2006’s most seasoned and diversified new artists. The proof is on brilliant display within her self-titled debut CD, Dionyza – which finds her collaborating with hit-makers such as Rashod Holiday & Sauce (Ne-Yo), David Frank (The System) and Nate Butler (3LW). The project reflects a rainbow of musical styles and moods. "I've been around music all of my life,” Dionyza states, “up to the wee hours in studios while Mom and Dad were working. My greatest memory is being at Motown where I got to meet Smokey Robinson. And Teena Marie took my sister and me to the park while my parents were in the studio. I have two older brothers and one sister - I'm the youngest. As children we saw the ups and downs of the music business first hand, so they didn't have to ‘warn’ us about anything! Every one of us can sing…but I'm the only one taking it all the way!” Thus far, “all the way” has included chops-building behind the scenes work singing demos and background vocals for top-flight songwriter/producers such as Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and the team of Soulshock & Karlin. Her extensive credits include singing on Christina Aguilera’s My Kind of Christmas album and accompanying singer Jon B on his Cool Relax tour (which included promotional stops on Soul Train and Motown Live). She sang on the best-selling soundtrack of the Disney TV movie High School Musical and provides the singing voice of the characters “Sasha” and “Jade” on the Saturday morning cartoon The Bratz. “I guess you can say I’ve been a busy lil’ studio rat,” she laughs!

Now the time has arrived for Dionyza to step into the limelight as an artist in her own right. Which brings us to Dionyza’s self-titled debut. She has wisely chosen to collaborate with several different writers and to not write everything herself. “I feed off of other writers’ energies,” she states.

One intriguing example of her writing approach can be found on “I Told Myself,” which she co-wrote with with Robbie Nevil (a one-time artist who focuses more on songwriting now). Describing the organic way in which the song came about, Dionyza says, “Robbie asked me, ‘What are you going through right now?’ I told him I was seeing a guy but I thought he was going to be a dog/player. I told myself to stop hanging out with him. I told myself I need to let him go. Robbie said, ‘That's it - I Told Myself - we've got a hook!’" What makes this song even more special is the music track. Back in the `70s, Motown vocal quartet The Originals recorded one of Michael & Brenda Sutton’s songs titled “Sunrise.” That song was sampled by producer Kanye West for rappers Scarface & Jay-Z’s “Guess Who’s Back” (2002). Bringing the song full circle back to family, Dionyza has sampled Kanye’s flip of the track for “I Told Myself.” Along with several other original songs, Dionyza shows her allegiance to classic soul with a beautiful remake of Deniece Williams' 1980 hit "Silly." “Over the years I’ve constantly been told I sound like to people,’ Dionyza shares, “Niecy for tone and Randy Crawford for vibrato. I hear ‘Silly’ all the time on radio oldies shows. I decided to redo it for today’s generation.” Now standing on the verge of “all the way,” Dionyza says the most important thing she learned from Mom and Dad was never give up. “They remind me that I'm already at a place where a lot of people are still trying to get. Sometimes I just want to stay in the background. It’s satisfying enough sometimes just hearing another singer's voice on a track that I wrote. Sometimes I don't want to deal with the politics of the business. Then I’ll go to a great show and want to jump on stage, grab the mic and go! On stage or in the studio, I think I just love bringing songs to life.”

By Chris Rizik
In the world of modern R&B music, there is typically an inverse relationship between the quality of the CD and the raciness of its cover.  One attractive but vocally challenged female singer after another has posed provocatively on the front of her CD, providing a beautiful wrapping on a sad gag gift: a by-the-numbers collection of faceless dance tunes and disposable ballads.  It is the ultimate head fake; the musical equivalent of a pick-pocket who does a trick to attract your attention while his partner steals your your wallet. So when a disc like Dionyza's debut album, Quite Like Me, is issued with its cleavage-filled front photo, a reviewer's first reaction is a groan: we've seen this movie too many times before.  But the young chanteuse gives her own head fake -- she delivers a shockingly infectious, balanced disc that is even more attention-grabbing than its provocative cover. The disc starts off strongly with "I Told Myself," a playa-busting track co-written with Robbie Nevil ("C'est La Vie") that indirectly samples a 70s composition by Dionyza's parents, and continues with one irresistible cut after another. "If This Could Be Love" is a wonderful 80's style duet that Dionyza mentor Teena Marie would kill for and even better is the thumping, ominous midtempo, "If It Kills."  And those tracks are indicative of a consistent strength on Quite Like Me: the ability to hearken back to classic soul sounds while making the album thoroughly contemporary. It is a balancing act that this disc handles as well as any of the past year.  But behind it all is Dionyza's keen sense of melody.  Nearly every song -- from the Janet-like "Practice Makes Perfect" to the sexy Leon Ware-ish "Give It To Me" to the funky, electronic "Stir It Up" to the earnest ballad "Whole" and the UAC gem "Today Will Soon Be Yesterday" -- is beautifully hooky and memorable. Quite Like Me is really a left-field release; a disc that consciously slants toward a young R&B audience, but has the sense of melody, production and vocals of a pop/soul record that could have been a hit twenty years ago. It is another head fake by this young artist.  Dionyza makes more of an impression with her musical talent than with her striking-but-contrived CD artwork, and happily demonstrates a case where the book is surprisingly better than its attractive cover.

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