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Ledisi on Her New Book, Her Summer Tour and Rocking the ESSENCE Music Festival

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It's a busy time to be ESSENCE Music Festival headliner Ledisi. On top of her singing duties, the seven-time Grammy nominee is adding author to her résumé with the release of her first book — out on June 5 — Better Than Alright: Finding Peace, Love & Power, in collaboration with ESSENCE magazine.

This June, she also kicks off her second headlining tour, dubbed the "Be Good to Yourself" tour. Ever the poster girl for empowerment, Ledisi describes the "B.G.T.Y" tour as "celebrating life, celebrating being you and enjoying the friendships and the people around you." She spoke with ESSENCE.com about her new book, her summer tour and plans for her next album.

ESSENCE.com: You're kicking off a new tour this summer and releasing a new book co-authored with ESSENCE. First of all, how do you find the time to write a book, and what's it about?
LEDISI: I’ve been writing for years and I probably have about five books written, but this was a challenge because it was a different way of writing for me. The book is about all the things that inspire me. It’s just describing my life and how I got to where I am; the obstacles, challenges, triumphs, and all the people that lifted me to be Ledisi. It’s pieces and fragments of my life, but it’s also other things that inspire me like affirmations I’ve written, affirmations I’ve read and other people’s words from First Lady Michelle Obama, President Obama, Bishop TD Jakes and Octavia Butler.

ESSENCE.com: Besides personal photos and reflections, the book features some of your favorite life affirmations. Care to share a few?
LEDISI: In the beauty section of the book I say: “I have to tell myself that I am beautiful every day, because every day the world says something different.” That’s the affirmation I like. People in my line of work are very judgmental. The industry wants you to be a certain way and people have their own vision of who you are. But you have to stand by what is most comfortable for you.

ESSENCE.com: You just wrapped up your first headlining tour in January and now you're about to kick off the "Be Good to Yourself" tour in June. What are you doing to prepare?
LEDISI: What am I doing to prepare? [laughs] Freaking out. I want it to be completely different from the other one. Not too different, but different. We just want to have a fun, high-energy show. The BGTY Tour is about celebrating life and celebrating being you. I'm happy to have Eric Benet and Chrisette Michelle on a couple of the shows. Chrisette is doing two shows with me and Eric Benet is the opening act throughout the whole tour. He was one of the people who knew me from my very humble beginnings. I’m just happy that he gets to open for me because I used to open for him.

ESSENCE.com: We're excited you're headlining the ESSENCE Music Festival this year. What are some of your favorite EMF memories?
LEDISI: One year I went to see Prince perform. He was on roller skates and had Shelia E., George Clinton, and Larry Graham on stage. It was incredible! Another favorite moment was getting to meet and talk to Patti Labelle. I’ve been there a few times when I wasn’t performing, but this year I’m even more excited because I get to finally do a show on the main stage. I also can’t wait to see Aretha Franklin perform!

ESSENCE.com: Your last album Pieces of Me was such a successful album. Any ideas for your next album?
LEDISI: I’m so not there yet; I can’t even think that far ahead. I do know that there are people that I would like to work with like Q-Tip and Missy Elliot. Right now, I’m going on tour, I have a book, and Pieces of Me is still doing well. I think there is still a lot of buzz around the album. People are loving the song, the latest single “Bravo,” and I’m looking forward to hearing response from that.

Click here for dates for Ledisi's "Be Good to Yourself" tour.
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