When you read the definition of singer, it simply says: One who utters words in musical tones and with musical inflections and modulations. From that definition alone, you would not be able to conjure up a singer that has the soul of a young Aretha Franklin, the spirit of a loving Diana Ross and the funk of Chaka Khan. However, these are just some of the dynamics that roll into one to help create Ledisi.
New Orleans born, but Oakland bred, one thing you cannot do to a star like Ledisi is corner her into one slated category. You have to let stars like these be free to grow and to give their audiences all that they have. Something that Ledisi says she has no problem doing. After talking to her, you realize that she is more than a singer, and more than a performer. She is more so a devout artist who has promised that she will give her audience whatever emotion she was feeling when she created the song. She cannot be defined merely by the word singer. She simply is not your average…
BallerStatus.com: How long have you been singing?
Ledisi: Professionally over twelve years. In an eight year period, I have been recording.
BallerStatus.com: When did you first realize that this is what you wanted to do with your life? When was that moment?
Ledisi: Mainly watching my mom. I’m from New Orleans and they recorded with their own band. They would record around at home. They would play around town. I asked her to sing this line and she sang it back for me and that was it. I was like, “Oh, I want to do this. I gotta do what my mom does. I gotta record.” That’s what made it happen for me.
BallerStatus.com: This newest release is not you’re first album. You do have a fan core, yet you have yet to reach mainstream audiences. Why do you think that is? What do you think is preventing you from getting over that hump?
Ledisi: The purpose of signing with the major label Verve was to get me over the hump. I didn’t really go into the business with the attitude of wanting to be major. I can say that when I first started I was young and I wanted to be a pop star. When I first recorded my record, all I wanted to do was make a quality record and that somebody would buy and keep coming to my shows. I already have a fan base in the Bay Area, so I was happy with that. I always wanted to be known more on a bigger scale at least for my music to be heard. I really like to be private. It’s really odd.
BallerStatus.com: You know that’s not gonna last right?
Ledisi: (laughs) I still want to do my own laundry and go to the store.
BallerStatus.com: Some people might simply categorize you as trying to be an India.Arie type. How would you describe your type of music?
Ledisi: I would say I’m more of a mixture of the past and the present. We pretty much all are. Whether we want to say we are or not. I’m sassy, fiery. I give you a more spiritual sound in a preachy way. In a more pastor vibe. I relate to regular people like myself. I’m not into comparisons or into categories. I just do what I do best and I’m from New Orleans and we just give you all of ourselves. I’m also from Oakland and we give you the funk. I let the labels and journalists and let ya’ll come up with a category for me.
BallerStatus.com: Okay, you know the labels are going to do it.
Ledisi: As long as I keep doing what I’m doing then I’m happy.
BallerStatus.com: How would you describe your album?
Ledisi: My album is about different versions of love– self love, loving a person, wanting to love a person, wanting to leave the person you love and loving your family. The record is a mixture of all of that. It really was about me coming into myself spiritually and getting in alignment with myself. Once I got into alignment then things started to fall into place. The industry looked different back then. It was like do I have to conform? Can I still be myself? Do I have to start wearing lace and pressing my hair? (laughs) What do I do? Everything worked out. I’m a grown woman and it’s completely different from my last record.
BallerStatus.com: I know that’s right. I’m a grown woman. I hear you on that.
BallerStatus.com: Now by us being grown women, we have grown women situations going on. So what kind of topics specifically are you writing about in your songs?
Ledisi: It’s a lot about love. I tried to make this work and it ain’t working. I also have a song called “The One.” That is about finding the one. You’re my friend, you picked me up. Then there is a song called “Alright.” That song is basically saying I wish I had money to pay my bills etc, but even though I don’t, it still is going to be alright. Everybody says that: “It’s gonna be alright, don’t trip.” We say that a lot. Even through all of the stuff that I have going on at the end of it; I just want to feel loved. That’s the base of everything. People just want to feel love.
It sounds so Diana Ross like, I love Diana Ross because she is always talking about lets love each other. The root of everything is love. Whether you want more of it, have enough of it.
BallerStatus.com: Something is missing without it. Would you say that many of the songs you write are from your own personal experiences?
Ledisi: All of it. Every song on there is about me. A couple is about my family. A lot of it about my own experiences. I think if it’s not about you and you’re not really wearing it then what’s the point.
BallerStatus.com: It’s much better to own it.
Ledisi: You know! When you see the live shows La’Juanda, it makes it even deeper. It becomes bigger than me.
BallerStatus.com: Who are some of your musical influences?
Ledisi: I have so many. I like all of the older folks like Dinah Washington. She will just give it to you. I love Chaka. Earth, Wind & Fire are one of my favorites. Phyllis Hyman. Ella Fitzgerald. I like Rashaughn Patterson. He is one of my favorites. That’s why I had to pull him on my record.
BallerStatus.com: What would you consider a classic album?
Ledisi: That’s not fair! (laughs) Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” Aretha Franklin’s “Lady of Soul” and her “Amazing Grace” record. Those are classics.
BallerStatus.com: The album is out right?
Ledisi: It dropped in August and it is called Lost And Found. You can also go to Verve Music Group online and look me up there. Or come to my website Ledisi.com.