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Beloved neo-soul singer Conya Doss built her dedicated if small following the hard way, with independently released albums and lots of touring. A native of Cleveland, OH, Doss cites influences including Stevie Wonder, Angela Winbush, Donny Hathaway, and Minnie Riperton. She began singing as early as age five and went on to attend the Cleveland School of the Performing Arts. She got her start in the music industry alongside childhood friend Stacy Richardson, with whom she formed the singing duo Lyrik. The duo eventually split, though, as Richardson went on to sing with Spencer Taylor & the Highway QC's and Anthony Hamilton while Doss mounted a solo career. Doss made her independently released first full-length recording, A Poem About Ms. Doss, in 2002. That promising debut was followed by Just Because (2004), Love Rain Down (2006), Still (2008), and Blü Transition (2010) — all of which were also released independently. Because she didn't have the benefit of major-label promotion, Doss built her audience largely through live performances and resulting word of mouth.