Best known for her soprano-pitched, neo-soul and R&B sound, Ledisi has gravitated towards the underground music scene as an independent artist over the years. But now, “an artist signed to a label, with independent thinking,” the New Orleans-born soulstress sits with three Grammy nominations including Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song and Best R&B Album for her latest EP, Pieces of Me (2011). Understanding that this album separates her from her past projects—that have usually been audience and genre specific—Ledisi admits that this album was the hardest, and most intense to record because the music was so powerful. “I was recording [‘Bravo’], and I couldn’t even get passed the second verse,” she says. “I just started crying because I was so excited, and felt like, Wow, I never had a song that wears on me really nicely like this. [But] that’s what it’s about; that’s who I’m about—it’s about celebrating life.” And the album does exactly as she says.
Focusing on the theme, ‘Be Good To Yourself’, a titled track on the album, and the name of Ledisi’s upcoming 25-city tour, the Nola singer uses this album as the soundtrack for the empowerment of women. Ledisi shares that, “Pieces of Me was a breakthrough album for me.” She continues, “We go through enough hard times, so it’s great to be able to express that in a song that the youth can get, and you can hear me on the treadmill instead of [singing along to] a ballad.”
It’s no secret that Ledisi’s 6th studio album has found a way to reach a plethora of audiences, gaining plenty of mass appeal—which some might label as mainstream—but after sharing her tantalizing soprano vocals for more than a decade, the New Orleans-bred artist says radio play and extreme mass appeal has never been a focus. “When I think of music, I think of it in a general sense,” she says. “I’m not focused on radio or whether I’m going to get all the audiences… all I wanted were great songs that were universal to any listener—Black, White, Green, Yellow; any kind a age difference.” With a voice that’s provided longevity in an unstable business, Ledisi has found a way to stay true to herself and not feed into the “well wishers” of the music industry. “When my time ends, I want people to say, ‘Man her music made me smile; it just enlightened my life; it inspired me; it made me feel good every time’,” she says with a smile heard through her voice. “That’s what I want to leave behind. Whether it was on the radio or not, it still is good ol’ music.”
While the soul singer consistently delivers her classic sound through and is recognized for keeping music true to what it once was, Ledisi says that every generation has a different definition of “good music.”
“Everyone’s not going to agree on what’s considered good music…just like the ’60s, the ’50s, the ’80s—some of that was kind of weird.” In Ledisi’s eyes, sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t. As some might think she’s grown as an artist, she admits others say she’s not “as soulful” as she once was. “Everyone has their opinion.” But at the end of the day, the Louisiana native just “wants to make people feel good when they hear [her] music.” Bravo!
For information on Ledisi’s upcoming tour or to purchase tickets, please visit ledisi.com.