If you thought Ledisi was already refreshing and uniquely different, wait until you get a hold of the rejuvenated Grammy nominated singer-songwriter. Readying her next studio album, The Truth, for release around February 2014, the glowing songstress spoke with Singersroom about the forthcoming project, finding herself, love, traveling, and more. Take a deeper look into Ledisi Aka Led.
What's new with you? You seem so radiant as of late!
A lot of new stuff! I’ve just been enjoying life more now. I just needed to focus on me and love myself more. I was in toxic relationships that weren't working out. I started to get the self-love I deserve because I was focusing on me. And that's what happened, taking a dance class here and there. In my last two live shows, you would've seen that, putting more aggression in it. I started taking dance classes and in dance classes, you have to look in the mirror. And I didn't want to look in the mirror. I started looking in the mirror, started looking inside and dealing with the truth. And it all came together naturally. I finished my album, but I had to focus on me. It's progressing with who I am today.
There’s nothing like the present, but for you, why did you decide to make these changes now?
You will hear in the title track of the album and in most of the songs. You will hear the celebratory in the music. I had to make the changes, not for a record, not for the label or anything like that. It was all for me and what I've learned.
What was your concept behind the lead single, "I Blame You"?
Someone was making me feel more beautiful, and it showed. Claude Kelly was like what's going on? I said ‘I'm happier now, and I'm starting to embrace myself’. It's not only about loving you, but someone else is loving whom I am becoming, and they’re making me feel this way. It was just the LOVE, and that's how we came up with the title, and that's how we were going to do it. Claude Kelly actually came up with that title. We wrote it together and with Chuck Harmony. All three of us did it together. So again it was all natural. We just sat down and talked about things, and that's what happened. That's how the song came about. And yeah, the rest of the album is what it is.
Tell me about the creative process for the new album, The Truth.
Well, I started writing with Ivan and Carvin in Philadelphia. I wrote with different people after them just to see where I wanted to go. It was the hardest album to begin because I didn't know which direction I wanted. But, then my life changed and I started focusing on me and that's when the stories started to come. Everything had me facing the truth of what it is, and it naturally progressed into that.
I also worked with Jerry Wonder, Chuck Harmony, and Jon Jon Traxx. After I finish the album, I wanted to focus on me because I was pouring it all out emotionally. But, now I need to focus on what makes me happy, and that's what happened. I love that I had a whole summer to figure out Ledisi and know what I want. Now, who is Ledisi? I had enough time to deal with myself from the inside and outside. That's what happened with the album and it became ‘The Truth’. I worked with DJ Campa as well, and the funny thing is I had his stuff for a long time. But, I couldn't write anything and when I finally did, it was 3 in the morning. I woke up, and I started writing to it and I was actually letting go of it. Just walking away from an old relationship, and that's what happened.
What’s one thing you found out about yourself while making this record?
I realized how much I did not give to myself. I realized I wasn't taking care of me enough. Now I know what I deserve, and I have to take care of me more so I can give back fully. And the mirror is no joke [laughs]. The mirror helps you face the truth of yourself. It's incredible. But I didn't give myself enough credit for all of the good stuff I've done. And all of the good things I am. I thought I did, but I didn't do it enough.
So, what held you back from finding yourself for so long?
Umm! The driving force was love, wanting to be loved, give love back, hoping people will know that I am fully being authentic. Trying to prove something, but I don't have anything to prove anymore. Just be ME! This is me, just be Led. Go head and be and don't be afraid of it. I was trying to please everybody; you can't please everybody. You can't make other people happy; you have to be happy first and radiate that, and I promise you all of the people that are supposed to be around you will be around you. All the people that love you will love you as you grow. I've grown; I love being honest with myself. Love is proud of this woman right now. I can't wait to find out more. I'm excited about what's to come. I thought a book would help me; I thought those other things would be the thing, but the thing is sitting down with yourself and be honest. I am really proud of myself, and no one can take that away from me. I worked my butt off to get where I am. Nutrition, the physical part but the mental part is the most important. I met some incredible women; different sizes, colors, races, they really inspired me. They said, "You can do it, Led." [laughs] It's all about the three things I keep saying, and I remind myself. You must have faith, love yourself by any means necessary, and you must be careful of whom you allow in your personal space. It's so important. And I keep going back to those. I didn't have anything this summer, so I had to focus inward, so it was great. I'm proud of myself. Whatever people say I'm good.
So, tell me about your travels over the summer!
I went to Disneyland [laughs]; I was so happy. I've never been there. I really enjoyed it; I had a good time. I've never been hiking or on a motorcycle. That was fun. I did a lot of stuff. Just different things that I normally don't do. This time I walked around more and looked around more. Took a dance class, acting, I did a play; I mean I did stuff this summer! It was great. I never have time to do it; I'm always giving back to other people. This summer I really had a chance to do stuff and enjoy it. It was fun.
What was it like working with the legendary Prince on “Ain't Gonna Miss You When You're Gone”?
I won't say much about it, but I will say I love that man…LOVE, LOVE that man. He's an incredible songwriter. He's incredible in the studio; we have a lot in common. I'm just honored. I'm just honored to be in his presence, and he trusts me enough to be on a track. So, it was great. But, I will never tell; if he tells, I'll tell. That was shocking for me too. I didn't know it was coming out. It's a great record.
What other artists do you want to work with in the near future?
I still want to work with Q-Tip, Kendrick Lamar. I wanted to work with Kendrick Lamar before everyone knew him. I just love him. I would love to sing a duet with Joe. He's like my favorite male singer right now. He's one of my favorites. The album he has out now…I love it. I love him. I am a Joe fan. Since "All That I Am," and before that. I can go on and on. He's R&B for me. Him, R. Kelly, and love the Isleys, that's R&B to me.
What artists are you currently listening to?
I haven't really been listening to much because I've been focused on what my lane is and creating a lane for me. I do love Brandy, always loved Beyonce… Anita Baker. I'm still grown folk music even though I love the younger cats. I can't find anything that sticks with me right away.
When is the release date for ‘The Truth’?
February 11, 2014 is the date for The Truth, and I am excited about it. Right around Valentine Day and taking care all of the lovers. It's appropriate for that. So I hope people will get it and enjoy it and find themselves in it. It's great. I'm excited. I'm happy to be out in the world.
Are you touring as well?
Of course! They are talking about touring right now. I don't know when it will be, I don't know who it will be with, but I will definitely tour with this album.
What’s your message for people trying to find themselves?
Embrace yourself in whatever stage you're in and fully commit and be natural into it. Ignore what other people say and as long as you're being honest with yourself, go for it and commit. Love on you and like I said, be careful of whose around you. Have faith that you're doing all of the right things and it will shine through. Just have fun with it Embrace! Go!!
Transcribed by Dominique Carson