Algebra Blessett may have begun her professional career singing background for Monica and Bilal, but with her skills on the mic and with a pen, it was clear she HAD to “bless” the world with her music! Her debut 2008 LP, Purpose, introduced her through soulful, heartfelt, honest lyrics, and that trend has continued with the successful single “4Evermore” with Anthony David, her collab with Esperanza Spaulding “Black Gold,” and her mixtape, Dessert Before Dinner.
Now, Atlanta’s soulful sweetheart is returning with her sophomore album, Recovery, set to drop this fall, and headed by the single “Nobody But You.” Per her fun convo with Singersroom, she talked about her new disc, her songwriting process, some stories behind those collabs, not boxing herself in, even revealing her love of matzo and why Atlanta will always be home.
Singersroom: What can you tell us about the upcoming LP 'Recovery'?
Algebra: It’s set to come out this fall 2013. The album itself is pretty much a compilation of these songs that I’ve been recording since Purpose, or a couple of years after the release of Purpose. It’s a journey through life’s experiences and the healing process of so many things, not just love and heartache, but just something we as human beings do without even knowing it. Cells regenerate, we heal, we don’t know that that’s a process to grow in order to get to the next place in life.
Singersroom: What’s your songwriting process? Is it organic, are there rituals?
Algebra: For me I just don’t have one process. I guess the ritual part would be actually putting pen to paper, hands to keyboard; just actually doing it. The organic part of it, sometimes you’ll have these ideas, and you jot them down, sometimes they turn into a poem, other times they turn into just questions that you may ask yourself or you wanna ask someone else. So sometimes it comes to me, other times you have to sit down and allow it to happen.
Singersroom: What's your favorite song and why?
Algebra: Ooo, that’s not fair, that’s hard!
Singersroom: Ok, two.
Algebra: Everybody says, “What’s your favorite song?” then they jump to two, as if that’s easier! (Laughs) I guess right now, I like anything old school, of course, anything that draws your attention vocally. Anything from Aretha [Franklin], from the way that she was talking about her love, to Lauryn [Hill] the way she was talking about her love, Taylor Swift, the way she talks about her love and her heart. So, it’s hard, it depends on what mood I’m in. This is difficult!
Singersroom: OK! You were a part of Rebirth! The Musical. How was that experience?
Algebra: It was a very good experience to work with Lynn Whitfield, Q Parker of 112, so it was good to be able to share the stage in a different realm with the likes of them.
Singersroom: Would you ever do another musical?
Algebra: Of course, I think my life is a musical. Musicals are great, it’s another way off telling the story. To me, musicals and plays have always been the conversations that we wish we could’ve had through song.
Singersroom: Would it be great if everyone just broke out in song in real life?
Algebra: Yeah! Absolutley!
Singersroom: You’ve worked with so many other artists. Do you have any memorable moments of working with any of them?
Algebra: Yeah! All of them actually. Everyone that I’ve worked with have embodied these great memories. I remember with Anthony David, before we recorded and wrote “4Evermore,” just how it started. It started from a freakin’ 8:30, 9 am phone call…“What are you doing?” And I’m like “Yo, I’m sleep, dude!” and this particular morning, 9 o’clock just seemed so early. But I was like, “What are YOU doing? And “Why are YOU up?” And he’s like, ‘What you doin’ today? I want you to come over and listen to this song.” I was like “ok fine.” So when I finally dragged my bones out of the bed, went over, loved the record, penned it, and “4Evermore” was there, so that’ probably the best moment I have with A.D. And even the video shoot, we had great moments there. Esperanza, the same way. A lot of these come from phone calls, from your contemporaries, and people who you like as people, not just artists and their music, but they are genuine people with emotions and feelings and ideas and creativity. So it’s been a very good experience. Vivian Green, once again, another phone call. But that phone call happened, while we were riding around Philadelphia one day, and we were like “We should do a song together!” We never did it, but years later she called and said “Yo, I have the song!” We discussed it, and it was great, so very good moments with these people.
Singersroom: Where is your favorite venue/city to perform?
Algebra: I love performing anywhere at home, anywhere in the US. But I also enjoy overseas. Internationally, there’s probably not a venue I would not want to perform overseas. I enjoy performing in Atlanta cause it’s home. You’re performing in front of your family. It’s the larger moment of your parents calling you in the living room to sing a song for somebody who’s visiting when you’re little; that embarrassing moment where they’re like “you can make a mistake, but they’ll love you anyway.” When you do good, they congratulate you and tell you did a good job, and when you mess up, they tell you how to get better. So I love performing at home because Atlanta has been very honest with me, which allows me to be honest with them and with the rest of the world.
Singersroom: You’re self-taught on the guitar. What other instruments would you like to learn?
Algebra: I love playing the drums. Drums are fun, I can let loose on the drums. My voice is my first instrument. Piano is a very beautiful instrument. The cello, I’ve always been drawn to such. I play around with it. I would like learn more about the instrument, it’s a beautiful thing.
Singersoom: What are 5 things you can’t live without?
Algebra: That’s another hard one. You have to be so self-involved to know these things, which I don’t think about myself too much! Right now, I can’t live without talking to my mom, that would be very difficult for me without speaking to her, knowing she’s ok, her asking me how I’m doing, that’s very important to me. And I would have to add on sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews, every day I have to speak to someone. I like matzo, like Passover matzo? I need those in my life. I love eating those, that’s my go-to for munching, cause it tastes so good to me. I don’t know why cause it’s just flour and water (laughs). I don’t know why, but I need to have that on deck! Music…I need to hear a song a day, I need to be able to relate to a song a day, even if it’s just making me feel a certain way. So my mom, music, matzo…got a lot of M’s goin on! Two more? This is hard! And money! (laughs) I might not need it every day, but unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s necessary. I don’t need it, but I need it. I want it, too. So pretentious, but you get it. And peace of mind! So my mind, money, music, matzo, and my momma. Absolutely, that’ll work! And keep in mind, that might just be for today, tomorrow it may be something else (laughs).
Singersoom: If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Algebra: I’d like to sit on the piano between Donny Hathaway and Nina Simone, that would be ideal for me. I probably wouldn’t say a word, but I would just listen and wanna be a part of that. As for those living, I like John Mayer, I like [singer-songwriter musician] David Ryan Harris, I’m a big fan of the girl who sings Bulletproof [La Roux], I love [Canadian singer-songwriter] Feist. Reba McEntire is really dope, Sarah McLachlan, there’s just so many, I can’t, I won’t even set myself up for that, it’s too many.
Singersroom: So you listen to basically every genre.
Algebra: I do. I don’t set out to do it. I find music is very healing, so I can’t just box myself to one genre.
Singersroom: With Recovery on its way, can fans expect a tour to accompany it?
Algebra: Yes, I want that to happen. We need that to happen. We wanna have a Recovery tour and have people come out and enjoy this experience with me, not just because it’s mine, but because it’s what I do and I want people to hear it, I want you guys to be a part of it, and I wanna know how you feel about it. If it helps you, I need to know that, so that’ I’ll know I’m doing my job.