Ledisi: A Struggle With Identity

Lyrically refreshing and uniquely different, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter, Ledisi, bears her soul in her forthcoming album ‘Pieces of Me.’ What makes this album different? In an exclusive interview with Singersroom, Ledisi confesses, “With this album I’m not hiding – there’s a confidence that I feel. I know my walk is my walk and no one else’s.” She goes on to say, “I’m not struggling with my identity – I’m a woman and I’m loving it!” In an interview full of laughter and lightheartedness, Ledisi is as genuine and down-to-earth as they come. Holding nothing back, she shows us all her ‘pieces’ and breaks down her album, finding herself, the pressure to conform and more.

Singersroom: Is there a deeper meaning behind the title of your new album ‘Pieces of Me’?

Ledisi: Well yes there is. It’s really just about me being a complex, beautiful, wonderful, crazy woman [Laughs]. I was working on the last song for the album with Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly and Claude said, “I want to hear how everything is going since this is the last song.” I said, “Well all these songs are pieces of me.” At that point he said that would be the next song and that was what we were going to write on, ‘Pieces of Me.’ It sums up the whole album.

Singersroom: What makes this album different from your past works?

Ledisi: With this album I’m not hiding – there’s a confidence that I feel. I know my walk is my walk and no one else’s. I’m not trying to be somebody I’m not and I’m ok with people liking it or not liking it. I’m happy with what I put forth, I’m not struggling with my identity – I’m a woman and I’m loving it! I love my hair, my body, everything. I’m loving me. That’s a powerful place to come to and it took me a long time to embrace it all. I think that’s different from the rest of the albums – they were about searching and finding myself. Now I’m found.

Singersroom: So where did this newfound confidence come from?

Ledisi: A lot of things – having the right people around me mostly. I have a great team now. I know I’ve made a lot of changes in myself as far as family, the response I’ve gotten from the public, also having someone like Beverly Bond of Black Girls Rock to give me a chance and letting me be a part of something major in her journey. That was amazing for me! Then to have Michelle Obama recognize my journey and telling others to be inspired by my work – it just blows my mind! Wouldn’t you want to change after that? [Laughs] Wouldn’t you feel a little bit better about yourself and have more confidence?

Singersroom: I definitely would! Now, on this album you have a good amount of songs that speak specifically to women and are geared at uplifting them like your current single ‘Pieces of Me’. Despite all the advancements women have made (like Beverly Bond and Michelle Obama), how important do you think it is to continue to build self-worth in women?

Ledisi: Very important! We’re still growing to become women but a lot of the time because of certain situations where women are having children early or are forced to take care of the home alone, we have to grow so much faster you know? So we need more uplifting and celebrating of women. Our self esteem is a little bit lower these days and I want to be a part of uplifting that and showing that we all come in different sizes, colors, hairstyles, everything! I guess I represent the more curvy and natural girl, so I want them to see themselves in me because I’ve looked around and I haven’t seen anyone who looks like me. I want to be that inspiration for someone.

Singersroom: You said you represent the curvier more natural girl, have you ever felt the pressure to conform knowing that this music industry has such stringent views on how an artist should look?

Ledisi: Oh I’ve felt that my entire career until I signed with a major label. Before I signed with them I said I have to be myself in every way! Please don’t touch that or I’d rather not. I had to be my true authentic self no matter what. And as I grew, the label grew with me and we made it work. I’ve never had those pressures except for when I was on the outside trying to be something I’m not when I was trying to get a deal. And after I decided not to and I put out Soul Singer in 2000, I never had those pressures again! But yea those pressures happen, I just never noticed them. I hear people say things but you just gotta keep it moving.

Singersroom: The message in your song ‘Coffee’ from the album is very heavy. Where did the motivation come from to make that track?

Ledisi: Well my executive producer brought the track to me saying, “I really think you should do this song!” I was like no because it’s kind of risqué. I love the beat, I love the message but it doesn’t sound like something I would do. Everyone insisted that I do it, so I changed the lyrics around a little bit and made it fit me. Once I heard it back at me I said ok I like it, it’s kind of sassy. It’s my Shug Avery song [Laughs]. I think the song is beautiful!

Singersroom: If you had decided not to pursue a singing career, what career path would you have chosen?

Ledisi: Oh I would be a music journalist – I love it! Writing and reading are my favorite things. To be able to write about these wonderful musicians out here would be amazing!

Singersroom: Ten years from now, where do you see Ledisi career-wise?

Ledisi: Wow, I can’t think that far ahead. I would just hope I can achieve things like the great legends I know. I want people to hear my music and say, “Dang, that Ledisi shol’ can sing” [Laughs]. I just don’t want my music to go unnoticed. If the name “Ledisi” could be next to names like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and Chaka Khan or at least close by them, that would be good enough for me!

—— By: Interview By Aleta Watson


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