Lyfe Jennings was born Chester Jennings in Toledo, Ohio. In addition to being a singer-songwriter he is also a record producer, and instrumentalist. He plays the guitar, bass, and piano which he integrates into his music. Jennings began singing at a young age in a Toledo church choir. He later joined a group called The Dotsons with two of his cousins and his older brother, Jay. The group separated in the early 1990s, and Jennings rediscovered music and started a music program at an Ohio prison where he was serving a ten-year sentence on an arson-related charge. He has cited Erykah Badu’s 1997 album Baduizm as one of the reasons for his rediscovery. Jennings was released from prison in December 2002 and started to pursue a solo career in music.
In January 2003, Jennings performed in Harlem at the Showtime at The Apollo. The same year, he also independently released his first EP, What Is Love. To further pursue his career, Jennings moved to New York City where he performed at rapper Nelly’s concert at Radio City Music Hall, at an NAACP convention where he performed an original song called “Thank God for the NAACP”, and at the Cafeteria in Chelsea, Manhattan during the blackout on August 14. He signed with Columbia Records and released his debut album Lyfe 268-192 (268-192 was his inmate number) in August 2004. His first single was Stick Up Kid, which didn’t see much success until after the album was released. The album featured his hit single “Must Be Nice”. Jennings’ second album The Phoenix was released in August 2006. The first single, “S.E.X.”, features Jennings’ protege, singer LaLa Brown.
Take a listen to one of my favorites below.