Ella May Saison
Saison began her recording career at age 19. Prior to landing a recording contract, she was a soloist for the Artstart Band, specializing in jazz, gospel, and blues. In the Philippines, she is best known for her hits "Till My Heartaches End" and "If The Feeling Is Gone", subsequently covered by Passage and Kyla, respectively. Saison won the Katha Award for Best Female Performer, and she was also recognized in the Philippines for one Gold and one Platinum album.
A year after her second album release, she signed a recording deal with Evander Holyfield's independent record label, Kats Eye, and released So In Love in 1997. The songs "So In Love" and "Never Had A Chance" were released as singles. Andrew Rollins and Don Williams were producers, songwriters and musicians on the album except for "Never Had A Chance" which was co-written by Judith Jordan, Ronnie Hammon and Rollins. Jerry Brown was the engineer. The album was recorded at A&M Studios. Humberto Gatica was also an engineer.
In addition to working with Humberto Gatica (producer of Celine Dion), she has worked with Gerry Brown (producer of Vanessa Williams) and artists such as The Eagles and IV Xample. Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles contributed background vocals to the So In Love album, as did Eagles contemporary John David Souther.
There has been a degree of controversy associated with the credits to So In Love. It is contended that Saison specifically worked with Bryant Woodert (PKA Lucius) of IV Xample, who produced her vocals for the title song to the album. This song, written by Don H. Williams and Andrew Rollins, went on to win an award in the Philippines for best vocal production. Bryant Woodert never received any credit for doing vocal production, though he is listed as a background singer on the album credits (under Lucius of IV Xample). Though Gerry Brown was the engineer for this session, it is contended that he did not participate in any vocal direction, even though he and Andrew Rollins were given the credit for this. Andrew Rollins, who was said to be in New York at the time of the recording, later received the Philippine award for best vocal production.
Saison released a single with CeCe Peniston entitled "Reminiscin", which made the Billboard Charts under the "Powerpick Club Play" category, hitting number 30. Peniston's opinion of Saison is as follows: "(In) January 2001, we collaborated on a duet titled "Reminiscin" that charted on 'Billboard's Club Playlist'. I was fortunate to witness the warmth of a beautiful personality and the great talent of a rising star. I hope the world will be allowed to share in this experience too." Saison also performed at the Awards Dinner of the Republic of South Africa and the African Times in honor of President Nelson Mandela. She recently sung the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Countrywide Classic/ATP US Open Series at UCLA last July 17, 2007.
In the early 2000s, her focus became more regional than national, when she joined Los Angeles-based covers band Dark Sunday, as lead singer, where she was well-received.
- 1992: Language of Soul
- 1994: Full of Love, Full of Soul
- 1996: Best of Ella May Saison (Viva)
- 1997: So In Love (Kats Eye)
- 2005: Ella May Saison Soulful (Star Records)
- 2006: Ella May (Silver Series, Viva)
- 1992: "'Til My Heartaches End"
- 1992: "'One Body One Soul"
- 1992: "'Hiram Na Sandali"
- 1993: "If the Feeling Is Gone"
- 1993: "Goodbye's not Forever"
- 1994: "Full of Love"
- 1997: "So in Love" (Kats Eye)
- 1997: "Never Had A Chance" (Kats Eye)
- 1999: "I Believe"
- 2001: "Reminiscin" featuring CeCe Peniston (Real Deal)
- 2005: "Now That Your Gone" (Star Records)
- Saison may have changed the spelling of her middle name following her move to the United States, and is now frequently credited using either spelling.
- Star Records, The Queen Of Soul, Ella May Saison, In "Soulful: The Concert". Titik Pilipino, May 10, 2005; www.titikpilipino.com. The title "Philippine Queen of Soul" is now more closely associated with the Filipino-born, Afro-Jamaican singer, Jaya although Jaya is also referred to as the Soul Diva along with Jocelyn Enriquez as Dance Diva and Ella May Saison as the original Queen of Soul in the 90's. The character of Ella May on the Television show Justified is based on her.
- Uncited commentary by Digmuzack, added to Ella May Saison February 5, 2008.
- CeCe Peniston Commentary at Dark Sunday MySpace Page; www.profile.myspace.com.
- See Dark Sunday MySpace Page, featuring several testimonials in relation to Saison's vocal talent.
- Panaligan, Jojo P. (2005-02-16). "Ella May Saison reclaims ?Queen of Soul? title". Manila Bulletin Online. Retrieved 2006-10-12.[dead link]
- She also continued her association with Dark Sunday, following her return to the Philippines. See Dark Sunday Performance Photos, 2007 and 2008; www.viewmorepics.myspace.com.
- A collection of Saison's hits, primarily in the Philippines, prior to her move to the United States. Two of her hits featured on this album are "Till My Heartaches End" and "If The Feeling is Gone". As noted by one reviewer, "On 1996's Best of Ella May Saison, Philippine singer Saison makes it clear that she's the real deal, showing off a wondrous, assured voice, full of depth and expression. Like other great singers, Saison can make a song sound better than it should." David Gonzales, Review of Best of Ella May Saison. AllMusic review, reprinted at www.answers.com.
- As noted by one reviewer, "On 1996's Best of Ella May Saison, the singer often gave the songs a soulful interpretation, making even the easy listening material sound good. But on So in Love, Saison shows what she can really do, and she can do plenty." David Gonzales, Review of So In Love. AllMusic review, reprinted at www.answers.com.
- Being a re-release of Saison material recorded for Viva in the 1990s, most of which was previously released on Best of Ella May Saison.