“I’m amazingly blessed. I will never ever say that I’ve lived the perfect life to be shown such favor with God or the people but here I am,” declares the incomparable Regina Belle. The Academy Award-winning and Multi Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and actress, who sang the now famous “A Whole New World” with Peabo Bryson in Disney’s smash hit Aladdin, continues to defy the odds and redefine her world nearly three decades since she made her recording debut. With a string of hits including “Make It Like It Was,” “If I Could,” “Baby Come To Me” and “This Is Love,” Regina Belle has made a career following her heart and moving gracefully between the worlds of R&B, Gospel and Jazz. Recorded on a restored microphone used by Jimi Hendrix and at The Heavyweights Studios (North Hollywood, CA), the same location where Marvin Gaye recorded numerous hits, you could say The Day Life Began (Peak Records/Shanachie Entertainment), Regina Belle’s first new R&B album in 15 years, was blessed and ordained by the musical angels. The album is a stellar collection of inspirational R&B songs that reveal Belle’s unrivaled vocal abilities, and genius as a storyteller capable of uplifting and stirring emotions. Regina’s goal was simple. “If I cannot identify with the songs, and if the music does not move my soul, make me feel better, take me up when I’m down or higher when I’m up, then I don’t want to record it, play it or sing it!”
The Day Life Began unites Regina Belle for the first time in the studio with the dynamic producing duo Jamie Jones (from All-4-One) and Jack Kugell of The Heavyweights. Collectively their credits include everyone from Nick Cannon and Martina McBride to Phil Perry and Wayne Brady, among others. “The Heavyweights are now my brothers from another mother,” laughs Regina. “Jamie and Jack are two of this generations greatest producers and our chemistry in the studio was so unbelievable that we were able to record ten songs in five days.”
Regina Belle handpicked each song featured on The Day Life Began. Having worked alongside two of the best voices in music, Ray Charles and Al Jarreau, Belle’s repertoire spans decades and crosses genre. She has made a career selecting songs that have special meaning to her. “I’ve always understood that I couldn’t sing just anything,” explains the singer. “My grandmother made it a point of telling me not to embarrass the family. She would say that I hadn’t gotten to where I was without having stood on the shoulders of family members who prayed and paid dues. My songs have always been inspirational and my live shows have always been ones that you could bring the entire family to.” Inspired by such icons as Billie Holiday, Donny Hathaway, Nancy Wilson, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Pastor Shirley Caesar and Phyllis Hyman. The Day Life Began reaffirms Regina Belle’s own legacy as one of the finest voices of our time.
The Day Life Began opens with the soulful and inviting title track, which reveals Regina’s dynamic voice, soaring range and ability to deliver a song with depth. Regina confesses that there were numerous times in her life where she felt that she was beginning anew. The Atlanta, GA based artist reflects, “The first time I prayed and I felt like God heard me, I felt like my life had just begun. Then there was the day I discovered the she-ro in my mom and the first night that my brother and I decided to make music at 3 AM. And we did!” She adds, “The way my husband proposed to me, the birth of my children and the first time that they laughed for me. I can’t forget my first Grammy winning night. The list goes on and on and on…”
The Day Life Began also showcases the memorable, soul-stirring gospel testimony and original “He’s Alright” and Belle’s refreshing reinvention of the Reggie Lucas and James Mtume classic recorded by Phyllis Hyman “You Know How To Love Me.”
“Imperfect Love” is grown folks music and after Regina gets through the song you understand that Love conquers all, even with its imperfections. “This song,” explains Regina, “is a combination of my musical sense of melody and my husband’s simple genius. I was writing the song and it was a beautiful love song and my husband stated to me, ‘You’ve already written that.’ So I threw out the paper that I was writing on and started on new lyrics that reflect real love stories and came up with ‘Imperfect Love.’” Regina’s husband is Pastor John Sidney Battle III, former NBA star with The Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers.
“You,” is a tender and irresistible waltz penned by the Heavyweights. Belle wrote the funky and spiritually pleading “Live 4 You” with the Heavyweights and the ballad “You Saw the Good In Me,” is a gorgeous newly written Quiet Storm anthem that proves that Regina Belle’s voice still has all the beautiful nuances that have made her a legend. Regina takes it to the dance floor with the socially charged “Open Our Eyes,” which begs for us to all listen, wake up and make a change for the better. Long inspired by the great song stylist Nancy Wilson (to whom Regina dedicated the album to along with a few others) “A Night of Love,” shows off Regina’s unrivaled sense of phrasing and keen understanding of what to do with her voice in all the right moments. The song is a standout on an album that never loses its stride. It is only fitting that Belle’s musical journey closes with the riveting Steve Diamond/Allen Shamblin “Be Careful Out There,” which is sure to pull at the heart strings of every parent who hears this poignant number. Regina opens up about this moving song, which explores the delicate balance of loving and letting go. “I wish I had written it because it speaks volumes to me at this moment when I’ve become an empty nester,” confides Regina. “The words say, ‘go on and fly but be careful out there,’ have never hit home as much as they do now.”
An avid reader, Regina Belle enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and watching old movies and Westerns with the likes of Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, Hattie McDaniel, Betty Davis. “I have had many triumphs in my life including being a wife of 24 years and a mother of five while having a career,” shares Regina Belle who successfully underwent brain surgery in 2009. After high school, Belle attended Rutgers University in her native New Jersey. Just 15 credits shy of obtaining her degree (in Africana studies with a minor in music), she landed an audition with The Manhattans and went on to become their opening act and soon after was signed to Columbia Records. In May 2015 Belle came full circle, completing her remaining credits and earning her degree.
Belle made her recording debut All By Myself in 1987 creating such hits as “So Many Tears” and “Show Me The Way.” Her album Stay With Me followed in 1989 and two years later she made a big splash with Johnny Mathis, recording “Better Together” on his album Better Together: The Duet Album. In the 1990s Belle had several fruitful collaborations with Peabo Byrson and recorded the songs, “Without You,” and most notably the Disney hit “A Whole New World.” 1995 saw the release of Belle’s album Reachin’ Back and Believe In Me followed in 1998. In 2001, the consummate artist had the honor of performing for President George W. Bush at the White House. The same year she enjoyed success with her cover of the Bill Withers/Grover Washington Jr. hit on the tribute album To Grover, With Love. In 2002 her album This is Regina! was issued and featured the hit R&B single “Ooh Boy” and the Glenn Jones duet “From Now On.” The legendary George Duke produced her 2004 album of jazz standards Lazy Afternoon and in 2007 she had the joy of co-writing and singing on Paul Taylor’s album Ladies Choice. In 2008, Regina realized the dream of releasing her gospel debut, Love Forever Shines, which united her with such special guests as Melvin Williams (of the Williams Brothers) and Shirley Murdock. Her second gospel album Higher followed in 2012.
With the release of The Day Life Began, Regina Belle is affirming that her journey continues and that her new recording signifies yet the beginning of an exciting new chapter. Regina concludes, “I draw strength from knowing that I’m operating within the purpose for my life and I’m having a ball doing it!”