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Los Angeles, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF | AFTRA

Los Angeles, CA | SELF | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Pop Reggae




"Celebrity Sightings"

"L.A.’s hottest new band SayReal jammed out at their packed weekly Tuesday night residency at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica." - US Weekly

"New Reggae/Ska Explosion: SayReal – “Marbles”"

Unarmed And Ready

Reggae that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And also updated for the teens. Formed just one year ago, SayReal is fronted by Naia Kete from 2012’s season of NBC’s “The Voice.” Her brother Imani Elijah (percussion, keys, voice), Lightfoot (guitar, percussion, voice) and Lee John (bass, voice, percussion) complete the band. Originally a group of solo musicians, the quartet was discovered by producer Randy Jackson during an impromptu set at Hollywood’s Hotel Cafe in late 2014. I love this sound. SayReal is definitely unbelievable. I am so glad that reggae is making a comeback, without the deadly seriousness that sometimes dragged down the movement. Naia Kete reminds me of early Poly Styrene when she recorded as Mari Elliot. The combination of reggae and ska, the amazing quality of the band, the beautiful voice of Kete, all swirl around into a tremendous mix that I could dance to all night long. Nothing like dancing all night to reggae to get that romantic sensual blood going. Thank you, SayReal. This is the real thing. - AudioFuzz

"EXCLUSIVE! 'From Far Away' by SayReal"

This week’s Monday exclusive is the video for From Far Away, a slice of bright, summery, reggae-tinged pop from Los Angeles-based four-piece SayReal. From Far Away is the first single from the band’s forthcoming debut EP, Unarmed And Ready.

US readers may recognise SayReal frontwoman Naia Kete – she appeared on NBC’s The Voice in 2012. The SayReal line-up is completed by Naia’s brother Imani Elijah (percussion, keys, voice), Lee John (bass, voice, percussion) and Lightfoot (guitar, percussion, voice). All four members were originally solo artists, until producer Randy Jackson (Journey, Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul and American Idol) caught them in an impromptu jam session at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood just over a year ago, and persuaded them they should form a band. You can currently catch them every Tuesday at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica.

Of From Far Away, they tell us: “The song’s about loving someone no matter how far away that person may be from you. Even if the loved one has passed on, you can still feel and love their spirit. In the video we captured this feeling by shooting each individual band member in different locations, symbolizing one type of disconnection people feel, when following their own path. But even the final scene literally captures the dual meaning of our song’s message, honouring past relationships through memory, yet still finding that connection to them.”

We think fans of Paolo Nutini or Jack Johnson will enjoy this one but as ever, you can see what you think for yourselves… - Songwriting Magazine

"Featured Artist: SayReal"

"We’ll say it – it’s damn near impossible to not get that feel good vibe when speaking with Reggae­Rock­Pop act SayReal (Naia Kete, Imani Elijah, Lee John, Lightfoot) – same can be said when listening to the jams of this eclectic ensemble! While the raggae and rock influences are clear within the SayReal sound, it’s the musical hints and winks that each member leaves behind in their recordings that really makes SayReal stand out. The LA-based 4-piece kick-started their performance careers in a feel good way too, opening for Andy Grammar for a pumped horde of college students for their very first show." - Pens Eye View

"'SayReal' Releases Debut Album "Unarmed And Ready""

SayReal’s “Unarmed And Ready” debut record release party took shape in the form of undeniable movement last Saturday night at the renowned Apogee Studios (home of the KCRW Apogee Sessions) in Santa Monica.

The exclusive event got rolling with hors-d’oeuvres and specialty cocktails as VIP guests mingled through the rooms of the coveted recording space—owned by legendary producer/mixer, Bob Clearmountain (Rolling Stones/Bon Jovi)—where an endless list of A-list artists including Adele, Jackson Browne, John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Ryan Adams, Regina Spektor, Beck and John Legend have recorded and/or showcased their music. SayReal’s turn came when Apogee Electronics approached them about recording their song, “Want Some,” for an online commercial with/for their new flagship audio interface, Symphony I/O Mk II. They filmed the commercial at the studio, and it seemed a natural segue for the band to launch their album at Apogee, as well.

SayReal is a Los Angeles-based reggae-rock fusion group of multi-instrumentalists/singer-songwriters/freedom fighters who have banded together for reasons no less than starting, being part of, a musical/spiritual revolution. If the movement they created at Apogee on Saturday night is any indication of where they are headed, change is afoot. The sincere intention of these musicians to use their artistic talents and musical synergy as channels through which to inject positivity into the world is crystal clear.

A quote by abolitionist Frederick Douglass is embedded in the “Unarmed And Ready” album artwork: “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” It is around Douglass’s life message and teachings that the band created their single “Frederick’s Song (Freedom)” (co-written with academic Richard Fink), an indisputable anthem that builds, lyrically and musically, from start to finish, in its calling-out for a spiritual uprising to inspire us all to fight for our freedoms in the face of injustice. SayReal is certainly timely with their vision. The band kicked-off their set with a premiere of the powerful music video for the deeply lyrical single:

“It’s not the light we need, but fire, fire/ not the gentle shower, but thunder, thunder / we need the storm / we need the trouble / we need the whirlwind, the earth to rumble / without a struggle there can be no progress … / give me my freedom … / I’m taking my freedom … / we must fight for freedom despite the danger that comes … / I’ll fight for your freedom / we must fight for freedom / pray for nothing but freedom, freedom.”

By the time the video reached its culmination, the crowd pulsed with anticipation for the band to take the stage. At last, SayReal erupted into song with “Lovers Heist,” an original song that is not on their album, but a perfect excuse to go out and hear the band live. Enthusiasm in the venue heightened from there. By the third (title track) song of the set, “Unarmed and Ready,” fans moved, danced, cheered, sang along: “There’s about to be a revolution / (feel it in the heart) / we’re starting a revolution / it all starts with a feeling / you pull it from the inside out.”

As the enchanting, you-can’t-take-your-eyes-off-her, lead singer, Naia Kete (NBC’s The Voice) breathed into her mic between songs, “This is just the beginning,” her energetically tapped-in audience had no doubt in her prophecy. “There are no words to describe what I’m feeling right now, but I know y’all are feeling it too, otherwise I wouldn’t be feeling it,” she said to a roar of recognition that infused the rest of the set.

Naia was right. We were feeling it. Undeniably. The spark of revolution. A yearning for change. A belief in what’s possible. The energy in the space was kinetic. Inspired. SayReal’s genuine passion and authenticity poured from the stage and reflected right back at them from their fans. As relentless with their masterful musicianship as they are with their well-defined objective, to “champion integrity, strive to be examples of sincerity and honor the truth within ourselves, ” this is not a band that is going to relinquish their mission any time soon.

Sonically, SayReal presents a tight, smooth groove with a crackin’ rhythm section; tasty and innovative guitar arrangements; commanding vocals from Naia Kete with a sweet yet strong, soulful and sultry, grainy yet pristine essence that draws the audience in with immediacy; backed by lush harmonies from bass player Lee John, guitarist (Chris) Lightfoot, and sassy-soul-sangin’-virtuoso Whitney Myer (also from NBC’s The Voice).

Visually, all four band members (as well as guest back-up singer, Whitney) offer an explosion of artistic individuality, multi-culture and style—be it dreadlocks, a wild afro, long locks, vivid colors, ornate head bands or a flowing gown custom-made for Naia—gelled into an intriguing portrayal of oneness.

Perhaps that Naia is sister to Imani Elijah on drums, girlfriend to Lee John on bass, and a The Voice co-contestant to her soul sister, Whitney Myer, on backing vocals, adds to the oneness of this configuration of musical warriors. Not only does the band move together as one, they get the whole audience moving along with them. This band is one with their music; they are one with each other; they are one with their intention; they are one with their audience; they embody the spirit of “one love.”

SayReal played a ten-song original set including all eight gems off their album, such as “Sisters,” a psalm of feminine strength that encourages women to stay connected to their needs: “You think you know what I want / you think you know what I need / but, let me tell you my love, it isn’t something you see … / all my sisters raise your hands up high / if you know what you need then raise your hands up, hands up higher.” “Feel About Us” lyrically incorporates the band’s name, and flips through the pages of history referencing/quoting those who have stood up for freedom before us: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks; SayReal invites us to join these revolutionaries.

The set finished climactically with the deeply emotional, yet oddly uplifting and ultimately healing, “From Far Away,” which the band explains the inspiration behind: “Since writing the song, we’ve all lost someone. So it became about loving someone regardless of any type of boundary. Being able to love someone in spirit.”

The band left the stage, but didn’t stand a fighting chance in hell at not returning for an encore. The crowd’s “encore” chant was almost as loud as the band’s freedom cry; so, SayReal gave their fans what they wanted with two closing songs that are not on their album, “Wandering Soul” and “Fire Breather,” all the more reason to go out and see them live.

SayReal Record Release

“SayReal strives to create a soundscape that soothes, excites and inspires humankind to love and live truthfully and with its entirety.” The band absolutely achieved their purpose with their performance and the stellar party they threw for their fans on Saturday night, as well as with the recordings on their debut album.

“Unarmed And Ready” is available on iTunes and Spotify.

You can catch the band and their infectious energy at their Tuesday night weekly residency at Harvelle’s Santa Monica. I highly recommend it.

As my guest, composer/producer Nataraj Tribino [Nile Rodgers, Maroon 5, P.M. Dawn], said on the way home from the party, “Those guys are on a train I definitely want to be on.” I have to agree with him.

Find SayReal on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and - RnB Magazine


Debut EP - Unarmed and Ready
8 Tracks



"We champion integrity, strive to be examples of sincerity and honor the truth within ourselves."

Reggae-Rock-Electro-Pop.  Sounds unique, huh?  Well, that is because SayReal is 1OAK - One Of A Kind.

SayReal 100% writes, plays, records, produces, mixes, masters all instrumentation in every song, and they all rotate instruments live on stage.

SayReal creates a sound that soothes, excites and inspires humankind to love and live truthfully and with its entirety.

Be Real. SayReal. 

Band Members