American Idol starlet La'Porsha Renae is ready to heat up the charts -- and the stage-- this fall and she’s telling ESSENCE all about it.
Gearing up for her debut album set to touch down in 2017, the extraordinarily talented songstress recently released the lead single, titled "Good Woman," in late Septemner.
But that’s not all she has to talk about!
From adjusting to fame, to touring with Fantasia, to her journey to embracing the confidence that made the world fall in love with her on the show, Ms. Renae had plenty to say during our chat.
Audiences were mesmerized by La'Porsha’s soul-filled voice that dominated the final season of American Idol earlier this year and she says there will be plenty more where that came from. Although she admits that her upcoming album will have somewhat of a pop feel to it, fans looking to hear the powerhouse vocals that propelled her to the forefront of the competition will not be disappointed.
“I would describe my sound as classic Motown,” La'Porsha tells ESSENCE. “It hits on different influences. You’ll hear sounds influenced by Michael Jackson, or Whitney Houston, or Celine [Dion], or some of the other old school R&B artists. So, it’s kind of like, old school everything, but it’s still really relatable and it’s for these times as well.”
Much like what we all heard on the show, the extraordinarily talented mother of one says she’s an old soul and proud of it.
“I guess you could say it’s throwback but, not too throwback. I’m an old spirit and my voice tends to be kind of heavy and loud. I’ve been referenced as 'a young Aretha.' So, you’ll hear all of that on the album.”
The catchy single already has La'Porsha's #Renation fanbase wanting more and the soul singer says her faithful following had much to do with the process of choosing which song took lead ahead of her debut album.
“A lot of my fans wanted a kind of 'in your face' song," she says. “They wanted a song that exemplifies me overcoming the situation I was in and just that triumphant kind of song. So, I felt like I wanted to go ahead and get that out of both of our systems with 'Good Woman.'"
While La’Porsha cautions that the single doesn’t quite reflect what’s in store for the album, she believes it was a great way to give old and new fans a glimpse of her sound.
“The album is soulful but, very few of the songs are about break up stuff. A lot of the music has a more fun, funky, love feel to it. So, I went with 'Good Woman' first to kind of break the ice as I’m going into my career. But I don’t want fans to feel like the whole album will be about my past relationships.”
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In addition to working hard to promote the new single, La’Porsha is also preparing to hit the road with fellow American Idol alum and Grammy Award-winning vocalist Fantasia this November.
“The tour kicks off on November 19 and it goes through December or January. The opportunity actually came about after I went to her concert with Anthony Hamilton in Jackson [Mississippi]. The show was amazing, of course, and afterward, we talked and laughed and exchanged numbers. We kind of just hit it off again, like we did on the show, and she kind of took me under her wing.” Although Fantasia seems to have become somewhat of a big sister for La Porsha in the industry, getting the news about the tour was still an unexpected surprise.
“I had no idea,” she says. “My manager got in touch with me and was like, ‘Hey, Fantasia wants you to join her on her upcoming tour.’ When he told me, I was just really humbled and excited like 'What?! I get a second chance with my idol?!' She’s such a kindred spirit; so sweet and nice. I love real people and she’s one of those people. She’s such an amazing woman and I’m excited to be on tour with her.”
Similar to the past American Idol greats, being thrust into the spotlight has come with the territory for La’Porsha. An introvert by nature, she says learning the process of networking has taken some getting used to.
“The biggest adjustment for me is that I’m more of an introvert,” she continues. “I like to stay in my house and I’m really….old [laughs]! So, I think the biggest adjustment has been learning to network and go different places and hang out. Not to say that I don’t like people, though. I think once I get to know you and start talking with you, then I’m good. But, I’m not the one that’s like, in everybody’s face at a gathering. So, just learning how to network and how to appear normal in those situations.”
But don’t get it twisted — the 23-year-old Mississippi native absolutely adores her fans.
“I treat [my fans] like family,” she says. “I tell them all the time, ‘don’t idolize me, I’m just like you.’ So, I’m very humbled when I meet them and am able to hear how I’ve impacted their lives. I also tell them how they impacted mine because, you know, it was team work. They helped me get to where I am just as much as they say I inspired them. So, yeah, fame has been a really humbling experience but, it’s still something that I have to get used to.”
Another thing La’Porsha had to get used to at one point was the idea that she was as great of a woman as many have come to know.
“It’s something that I definitely had to grown into,” she says of her seemingly-natural confidence. “There are still parts of me that I’m not completely comfortable with. I would never let anybody else know that, aside from the people who are closest to me but, it’s just a growth thing. You have to accept who and what you are and you have to own it and wear it confidently. And sometimes, you have to fake it till you make it.”
The Motown Records signee says it was a moment of true self-reflection that ultimately helped develop her self confidence.
“I haven’t always been confident. I actually suffered with low self-esteem growing up. Eventually, I got to a point where I was just like, 'Ok, this is taking too much energy.' After that, I started accepting myself for who I was and I was like whoever is not going to accept it, they weren’t really meant to be in my life in that way. So, it takes you doing some self-reflecting and loving yourself from the inside out. Love your strengths, and all of those assets that make you who you are, and then you’ll start to love your outside self.”
Like most young women do as they grow into their own, La’Porsha has since learned to embrace all that she is and is encouraging so many other women in the process. As a word of advice for how to get to that space of confidence, the songstress says sometimes it just takes a leap of faith.
“Sometimes you just have to do something crazy to give your self confidence a boost,” she says. “I’ll tell you, on the show, when I did ‘Proud Mary,' that was when my confidence showed up. I didn’t want to do that song. I was like, ‘No, I can’t dance and I’m a little too thick to be wearing this type of dress.' But, doing that song actually built that confidence. From then on, I saw how many women I encouraged and inspired, especially plus-sized women. So many reached out and said, 'Thank you for being comfortable with you.' Little did they know, I wasn’t. But when I saw that I was an inspiration to them, they became an inspiration to me. So, we have to help each other.”
Take a listen to La’ Porsha's brand new single “Good Woman” below and click here to add it to your music collection.