Among the first artists signed to L.A. Reid's Hitco, the Bonfyre made her recorded debut with Ready to Love (2018), an EP of sweet and stylish contemporary R&B with references to some of the early-'80s crossover hits that fueled similarly popular singles of the '90s.
The singer behind the Bonfyre, Chelsey LaRue, started promoting her talent with cover versions uploaded to YouTube. The clips caught the attention of a club owner, who arranged for her to perform at his Harlem venue and subsequently brought her to the attention of producer Yancey Richardson. Through Richardson, Raphael Saadiq was made aware of LaRue and eager to work extensively with the developing artist after she relocated from her native Chicopee, Massachusetts to Atlanta, Georgia. A version of Refugee Camp All-Stars' "The Sweetest Thing," uploaded to SoundCloud, led to a deal with L.A. Reid's Hitco label and studio work with the likes of Harmony Samuels, Keyz, and Ayo the Producer, among numerous other songwriters and producers, as Saadiq remained in her corner. Ready to Love, the Bonfyre's six-track debut for Hitco, was released in August 2018. The tracks neatly incorporated references to early-'80s hits by the likes of Evelyn "Champagne" King, Mary Jane Girls, Keni Burke, and DeBarge, elements of which were repurposed the following decade via the likes of LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, Blackstreet, and Groove Theory. ~ Andy Kellman