CLOSE’s “Base Level” column features the hottest new artists we’re buzzing about. Before they make it to the summit of superstardom, we spot them at base level–the beginning of their hopeful journey to the top.

Ari Lennox is one of those DIY vocalists who developed a large following on YouTube and when you hear the sound those vocal cords make when they are stretched and pulled to capacity, you’ll know why. Ari’s talent is undeniable. If you could describe a voice as witty, it would be Ari’s. The 22-year-old singer/songwriter serves up a high-energy sound, even when the song is dipped in the agony of a broken heart. The infectious twist Ari places on her voice commands your attention. I know it commanded mine.

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I remember when I first discovered Ari. My best friend and I were cruising YouTube for people doing covers of some of our favorite songs. I looked up “Who Can I Run To” By Xscape covers and Ari’s was one of the first to pop up. The image frozen on the screen before clicking play was laughable. Ari’s face was pressed closely to the camera and her mouth was fixed to the side of her face as if her boyfriend just told her, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But, we clicked anyway.

As soon as Ari’s melodic voice escaped her lips, I was in love. I hunted down her first EP, “Five Finger Discount” and was even more impressed with her musical stylings and risk-taking. You will be too. Ari will be opening for R&B songstress Teedra Moses for “The Rhythm Effect–” an extraordinary mix of performances by fan favorite artists with the industry’s leading tastemakers and trendsetters. Armed with talented producer, Hal Linton on her debut album, Ari’s set to take over the Eclectic Soul movement!

Name: Ari Lennox

Age: 22

Musical Inspirations: Ella Fitzgerald, Minnie Ripperton, and new group Phony Ppl.

Biggest break thus far: We’re still in the process of breaking out, but I feel like the official music video I released this year has skyrocketed my career. I’ve been doing a lot of performances at a lot of great venues, like S.O.B.’s in NYC. It’s been great.

If you were the child of two musical artists who would they be? I honestly fee Minnie Ripperton and John Legend. I’m so inspired by both of them. I’m all in there. There’s so many that I love, like Sam Cook–adore! Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin…

Do you have a name for your sound? I like the term Eclectic Soul. I think that really describes it. It’s definitely Neo-Soul, but there’s so many elements to it. My sound is definitely Soul, but I do a lot of different genres like Rock and Country. But it’s eclectic. People just want to relate to somebody. I do a lot of crazy covers with me just talking and being goofy, but because people know me as a person, they gravitate towards me. A lot of people don’t listen to Neo-Soul anymore. I’m just trying to bring it back. I’m blessed. People have been buying it on iTunes!

What’s your favorite thing about your voice? I honestly feel like it’s different. It has it’s own personality. You never really know what it’s going to do, like myself.

Who are you listening to? The Beetles, “Oh Bla Di La Da” It’s an amazing circus music gorgeous song that gets me happy. I love Omarion’s “I’m Gon’ Change.” I’m sorry, I love his first album! [laughs] Aretha Franklin’s “Daydreaming,” Baby Bash featuring Frankie J, “Sugar Sugar–” I love that song. That guitar is so gorgeous. Howie Day’s “Collide” is also a good one.

Check out Ari’s YouTube Series “Ariology”:

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Her latest single, “La La La La” is available for download on iTunes!

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