“It Was Pretty Much Destined”: Philly powerhouse Lady Alma on her path through music

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Lady Alma at Kindred Presents | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Lady Alma was and still is a voice to be reckoned with. The prominent Philadelphia vocalist might have taken a hiatus ten years ago, but is officially back and better than ever.

Last week, Alma sat down at World Cafe Live to discuss why her upcoming concert at The Ardmore Music Hall on August 18 means so much to her.

“It’s really going to be a party,” she said. “I hope that when folks do come, they aren’t coming to just be entertained, but coming to party.”

Alma will be performing along with Brooklyn instrumental group Tortured Soul, and the internationally renowned, Philly-based DJ that helped launch Alma’s professional musical career, King Britt.

“The eighteenth is going to be a magical night because I’m being reunited with my brother King Britt and my brothers Tortured Soul,” Alma said.

King Britt remembers when he first heard Alma sing when he was DJing and Alma and Tanja Dixon were singing over his set without a microphone.

“I could not believe the power of these women.” King Britt recounted. “[I] instantly wanted to record with them, it was such an honor.”

Lady Alma was born Alma Horton in San Diego, California. At seven years old, she was introduced to the east coast when her family moved to Philadelphia. Alma’s inspiration for singing was sparked by her parents who sang in their free time; her mom was in a choir. Even though they did not pursue singing professionally, Alma still says that music was going to be a part of her no matter what.

“I was always around music.” Alma said. “It was pretty much destined.”

Beyond that fateful DJ night where she sang along to the turntables, Alma’s journey includes singing with King Britt’s Sylk 130 on records – including their 2001 hit “Happiness” — and on SoulTrain, collaborating with Rich Medina and James Poyser. Most recently, she was honored for her songwriting and singing skills at the Art en Noir event held June 29th at Art Sanctuary Philadelphia.

Honored alongside Radio One’s Dyana Williams and Philadelphia’s Grammy Chapter President, Carol Riddick, and having been introduced as “the heart & soul of Philadelphia’s soul scene” during the event, Alma says she felt humbled.

“To put me in that, I think it [would] come from all of the legends, previously,” she says. “The greats like Patti Labelle and Phylis Hyman.”

Alma was a student at Girard Academic Music Program and Settlement Music School. She still uses the lessons she was taught from her school and her private sessions to this day.

“My mom really stayed on me to learn,” Alma said.

When her mother grew sick, Alma took a hiatus back in 2008 to be with her, but has declared 2018 as her comeback year. She wants to make a harder mark in the Philadelphia soul scene, and says she has not yet hit her peak in her career yet, but sees her it going nowhere but up. She’s not the only one.

King Britt recounts performing with Lady Alma at the Sylk130 reunion show at the TLA in 2016.

“It was such an epic show that was probably our best ever,” King said. “Alma was in top, top form that night, everyone was, but she just leveled up!”

Alma’s current music includes a dance floor collaboration, “A Time and a Place” with producer Ralph GUM, the popular 2014 single “It’s House Music,” and an upbeat Gospel song produced by Darryl Jones…though the music is best heard in person.

King Britt being one of the first people to invest in Lady Alma professionally agrees with Alma when she says Saturday will be a magical night. He adds that the sounds of beautiful house music in all its form and iterations will be heard, and there will be magic and a bit of sexy.

For fans that want to see exactly what they mean, King Britt has some words.

“You have to be there to understand,” he said. “It takes us all to create the magic for the world.”

Lady Alma performs at Ardmore Music Hall on Saturday August 18th with King Bitt and Tortured Soul. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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