Ledisi: Soul Survivor

After years of ups and downs trying to fit into the music business, Soul singer/songwriter and Verve Music Group recording artist Ledisi (pronounced led-duh-see) released her first mainstream and critically acclaimed album ‘Lost & Found’. Three years in the making, on ‘Lost & Found,’ this powerful vocalist gives a tantalizing album that is well beyond words. This unsung hero of modern Soul music is no more the Bay Area best kept secret. With ‘Lost & Found’ this lady of soul gives us 16 original songs that will make you celebrate life and love with an open heart.

This amazing blend of R&B, Jazz and Funk is a piece of art that will let you feel what real music is all about. Ledisi’s music speaks for itself and let the fans indulge in the true spirit of knowing that everything will be ‘Alright’.

No more running from the truth because the ‘It’s Alright’ singer will be there to love you and make you love her music. ‘Lost & Found’ will touch you to the point of bringing real ‘Joy’ to your ears. This amazing talent will sure restore your faith in sweet, true, straight to the heart lyrics.

Singersroom: First of all let’s talk about your struggles because I am sure that before you got to where you are right now it wasn’t an easy journey, right?

Ledisi: Well the major struggle is really to be myself …so the struggle whether to fit in for what’s going on in the industry wise with other people was hard. It was very hard for me to figure out what I wanted to be. You hear people talking, “well you’re not this enough and you’re not that enough,” you kind of start getting discouraged. And then I was doing the same thing, running in the same circle and not really seeing any results for my efforts and I am thinking [it’s] because I wasn’t around the right people and I wasn’t finish spiritually and…when I started to do that, everything started to make sense. But once I started to leak out and do different things and be around different people and have faith more in myself, in the music, in God, in good people, then everything just started to make sense, so now I am in a good place.

Singersroom: You have been in the business for a long time now and some people who might not have heard of you before believe that you are just a newcomer, not knowing that you did release two critically acclaimed albums independently?

Ledisi: Well, fifteen years I have been doing it professionally. And you know I have been performing in night clubs…[doing] a lot of stuff… And I am finally getting recognized on the mainstream level, and I think that happened because I signed with a major Label. I am newly found to others…that’s why I named the album ‘Lost & Found’ because I am just like a lot of other singers they are in the lost and found area ready for someone to find them. I ‘m new to the mainstream, I am new to this kind of journey, I am new to a lot of people at one time (laughs). I am still new to this newfound person I am right now. So I would say it’s not an insult.

Singersroom: Talking about the subject of new, what was your reaction when you found out that you were a two time Grammy nominee for Best New Artist and Best R&B Album?

Ledisi: I was blown away and I am still blown away by it because of all of the things that are happening right now. It’s an honor because not only are you being recognize in the mainstream way, you’re being honored by your peers that say how much they enjoy your work and appreciate your talent and glad you’re here. It was a great response, beautifully, for the rest of my life I get to say two time Grammy nominee (laughs).

Singersroom: When you recorded ‘Lost & Found’ did it ever cross your mind that you were going to be nominated?

Ledisi: No, not at all. This record took three years to make and I was not thinking strategically about things. All I wanted was the best songs that I could possibly find and to stay true to myself. I was not expecting anything, nothing at all. I was so joyful over finishing the record that everything after it will be a complete blessing. I embrace it like a new kid saying “wow I am on TV, wow I met Steve Harvey on his radio show, wow I am up here singing in front of Tom Cruise, wow all because of this one record,” so either way it has been like Disneyland and I don’t know how to describe it to you. I hope everyone who is in my seat and is coming up and working hard get the opportunity to experience what I felt in the last eight months, it’s been incredible.

Singersroom: What’s the difference between ‘Lost & Found’ and the two independent albums that you had previously recorded?

Ledisi: The difference between those two is with ‘Lost & Found’ I stretched myself out a lot more working with different producers. I made the call on everything, the other two records I had Sundra, my writing and producer, with me. On ‘Lost & Found’ it was the same quest but I really had to trust my own self, my own judgment. I didn’t have anybody to tell me what to do or have anybody there to give me a second opinion. I was really by myself, with my producers there. They were like just get your butt in the studio and I was trying to run [but it] was rewarding to get up every day and come do the record. ‘Lost & Found’ is a different, quiet taste for my older fans too.

Ledisi Singersroom: You were signed by the Verve Music Group, a Jazz label and your background is in Jazz, isn’t it confusing?

Ledisi: Yeah, but I didn’t want to do a Jazz record, I ended up doing an R& B record. They didn’t have anybody like me on their record [label]. It’s so different, they took a chance and I took a chance. And you know the label had a lot of changes; Ron Goldstein is no longer there. When I was done they had drama going on with the label so I am saying man my story cannot go without drama (laughs). It was amazing to me… and I ended up staying.

Singersroom: Did you always believed in yourself?

Ledisi: I always believed, until I got into the music business. When I got into the music business that’s when I started feeling insecure with my first record. That’s when I started to feel afraid because I wasn’t good enough, my skin color too dark and my eyes too big. I wasn’t a five to eight you know, I wasn’t picturesque of the mainstream but before that I always knew I had something and even during that I knew I had something or else I would have just change it all to fit in but I didn’t. I rather walk away than compromise who I am.

Singersroom: You have a song on ‘Lost & Found’ called “Joy,” so what brings you joy?

Ledisi: You like that song Valerie (interviewer), that song was one of the songs I was like “I am not going to use that song” and then I heard it playing in the living room while vacuuming and I was like “ooh I got to bring this;” it is such an uplifting song. I like the beat and it just reminds me of roller skaters. I actually thought that should have been the single at first.

Singersroom: The video for “Alright” starts by you singing the intro of “In the Morning,” isn’t it confusing the way they shoot it?

Ledisi: I think because they knew that song will be the next single probably and they like the way I said “In the morning when I see the sun.” A little complimentary two songs in one but I like it, I thought it came out right.

Singersroom: How does it feel to be a winner?

Ledisi: It feels good. I feel like I have finally made my path; my own lane. In this lane I can do my thing, I don’t have to be like somebody else. Now I can create the music I create not like somebody else but me and now I am on my journey …whether it be music, movies, books, inspirational speaking, raising money for a cause whatever. I have my own lane and that’s what’s great about winning and then [having] so much more to come.

Singersroom: Your album is doing very well, are you afraid that the demand for the next one might be a little challenging to you?

Ledisi: I have a little pressure; I am not afraid anymore after going through this. The best thing I have learned about this process is to just focus on being myself. Every work that I’ve done has been successful and I wanted just to keep that streak. And it’s because I was being myself and having fun with it.

Singersroom: ‘Lost And Found’ has no collaboration on it, is there a reason why you choose to do it that way?

Ledisi: No…that’s not on purpose, no one knows who I am. I wanted the first mainstream record to be about me. But I did do one that I really had to have and I wrote the song …and I did a small interview with Rahsaan Patterson; he is on the “We Are One” song. Everybody was mad because it was so short.

Singersroom: Why is that song so short?

Ledisi: (Laughs) I did that on purpose, I did it because I wanted just a little idea displaying more to come later.

Singersroom: What’s the story behind “Best Friend”?

Ledisi: Well my producer Mano and I came up with the idea. I was conscious of doing songs that told stories and not going into anything that kind of [boodylicious]. He let me be myself and I said that I want to tell a different story that no one talked about [which is ] being in love with your best friend. And people should be in love with their best friend regardless. “Best Friend” is a true story; it’s about me and one of my friends. We’re still friends but we ventured out to other areas of our friendship and it didn’t quite work. A lot of people want to say that to people that they are best friend with because really we all should be with our best friend and… everyone loves that song.

Singersroom: How do you keep yourself humble in this business?

Ledisi: You have to! There was a two year period when I was just like mad, I wanted the audience to love me, I was screaming at my audiences, cursing them out and finally I just said you know what. I got to chill out and don’t expect anything at all. I wouldn’t be here without them, they’re the one that buy the records, they’re the one who are showing it to everybody, and the way the album got into people’s hands I need to start being appreciative. It ain’t about you. You gotta remember artists get so involved in themselves that they forget it’s bigger than us, that’s why I focus so heavily on spirituality.

Singersroom: So do you want to become a superstar?

Ledisi: At this level for me I feel like I am already there. Even before I thought that I was already there, meaning every level of success is success cuz each time you move up into a different direction you’re successful. You got to enjoy the success at any level and embrace it at that moment and every time something new happen cool that’s a persona of me, [which] is to be able to be humble, be low key…I want to keep the same feeling of excitement I love what I do cuz I know what it is like when you don’t love it.

Singersroom: So Ledisi are you happy about where you are right now?

Ledisi: There are some more things I could use improvements on that I am working on; to expect more of the unexpected and be more patient. Because it never ends even when you think you want a particular thing; with that comes more things. —— By: Interview By Valerie Varasse


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