Ledisi Opens Up About ‘The Truth’ Album, Self-Love and Embracing Change [Exclusive Interview]
From the first time Ledisi showcased her vocals on the Grammy-nominated 2007 LP, 'Lost & Found,' the New Orleans-born singer proved to be a stellar balladeer by far. While she carries the torch of jazz-style vocalization proudly -- it's been a common thread throughout projects like 'Turn Me Loose' and 'Pieces of Me' -- her upcoming album, 'The Truth,' due Feb. 11 via Verve Music Group, will show fans a different side of her.
"I'm really excited about it," she tells The Boombox. "It shows an evolution of what kind of artist I am today. It's honest and true, and it's about being a woman. It's just the truth -- more intimate, more intimate than most of my albums. And it's my favorite album."
If her performance during BET's 'Black Girls Rock!' didn't give an indication of Ledisi's evolution, then her new material will. The 'I Blame You' singer previewed a selection of new tracks from the album at Jungle City Studios last week (Dec. 10) and shared her thoughts on how the album and her transformation came about.
"I wanted to groove on this album," she informs the small crowd that gathered inside the recording studio. "I wanted a beat on every song. If I put a bunch of ballads on my next album, I just didn't feel like dancing."
And dance could be the key to 'The Truth.' Whether it's a steady bounce or a sultry body roll, 'The Truth' will get listeners on their feet and moving. 'That Good Good,' a mid-tempo tune reminiscent of something Janet Jackson would've dropped in the '90s, tells the story of a woman who knows what she wants in a man -- she co-wrote this with Angelica Lea, Jon Trax and Claude Kelly. She also shows off her sexy side with 'Lose Control,' co-written with her longtime collaborator and producer Rex Rideout. The song, which centers on a lady taking the lead in the bedroom, is the only ballad on the album.
"I'm known for my ballads, but this is my booty song," says Ledisi, comfortably dressed in black skinny jeans, a hoodie and stiletto booties. "Sometimes we should celebrate that wiggle [that] I learned in dance class. [And] I wanted to find out what men wanted in the bedroom."
Although 'Lose Control' might seem to be the most revealing track on the LP, it's actually the album's title track, 'The Truth,' that really showcases a vulnerability that Ledisi doesn't normally delve into. Revealing all the feelings that she went through after her own breakup, this track not only shows how the man outgrew her but how her love towards him faded as well.
"I'm not a male-bashing songwriter or singer," she admits, referring to the song she says she wrote in New York City at 3AM. "So I try to be mindful of that. I always believe there are two sides to every story. I want to uplift [with my music], not bash."
Aside from moving in a different musical direction on 'The Truth,' Ledisi also worked with new producers. While she was mum about names, she did tell The Boombox about her experiences collaborating with one producer. "I remember writing a whole bunch of songs and thought, 'Oh, this is the direction I'm going to go in," she shares. "And it completely changed in one week -- all of it completely changed after working with another producer. That was scary to me, but it was scary in a good way. That blew my mind. I was thinking I would go in that direction then it moved to another direction just because I worked with another producer."
The eight-time Grammy Award nominee continued that thought during the listening party. "I refuse to go work with other people, but [Rex Rideout] pushes me to go somewhere else," Ledisi explains.
With personal and creative changes going on, there's one thing that's clear: Ledisi is happy. "This album has been a big body [of work] for me," the songstress states. "It's a journey to realizing who I've become through love, being a woman, self-love, all of it. It all goes together for me. When I look at the picture on the cover [of the album], I think, 'Oh, that's me!' I've evolved into the self that I never thought I would be. How cool is this. I love it!"
She speaks the truth.