Ledisi Answers ESSENCE’s Questions on Faith and Spirituality
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Ledisi’s rise to the top of the charts was an eventful ride that included lots of disappointments, and painful lessons. At one point she even considered quitting the music business. Lucky for us, she didn’t.

Here the Grammy-nominated singer shares the beliefs that anchor her spiritual life.

Share a time your faith has been tested and the lessons you learned from it.
I was living here in New York. I moved here because I was on Broadway working on The Color Purple but they were closing the show. I didn’t want to really be in the music business. My mom said, ‘You’re going through things, Led, but you’re going to be all right.’ That’s how the song, “Alright” came about. What I learned from that is, the first thing is you have to have faith.  The second thing, and I say it every show, is, you have to love yourself, by any means necessary. And then the third thing is, be careful of who and what you allow in your personal circle. There was a reason I was drained is because I was losing my faith and not loving myself enough to know that I deserved to be in this business. That’s why “Alright” is so relevant and relatable to all my audiences. I sing it at every show.

Do you consider yourself spiritual, religious or something else?
Definitely spiritual. I like to hold that for myself. I don’t give it a name or anything. I am a very spiritual person and I’m respectful of others’ beliefs because that’s their thing. I don’t try to force my thing on anyone.

Is faith a deal breaker for you in relationships?
Of course, chile. But again, I don’t force my opinion. I just say, this is what I am and it works for me.

Who’s been your greatest teacher in your life? And why?
My mother. Her good days, her bad days, all of it, taught me something. In return I had the gift of lifting her later on in life. That’s why I’m glad she taught me so much because I had to turn the mirror around. The greatest gift she’s ever given me is to be persistent and humble and never ever stop being who I am, ever.

What’s the last thing that made you remember to be grateful?
When my mom got sick and I couldn’t be there. I was at a gig across in the East Coast and she got sick and had to go to the hospital and my sister was alone dealing with it. In that moment, I had to go sing. My mom said, ‘I need you to stay and finish.’ They got me on the quickest flight to be near her and to see her face and know she was fine—that’s when I was like, I don’t care what else I do, this part right here matters more to me than anything else. I’m grateful she’s all right. I’m grateful to have my family and my faith, because really when it comes down to it, you ain’t running nothing. It’s so much bigger than all of us. That’s what I learned.

Finish the sentence: I am at peace when…
When I am asleep. I’m not kidding you. When I have a full good six or more hours of sleep, I am so happy. I can wake up and do a trillion more things.   

Ledisi’s seventh studio album, The Truth, is available on iTunes. Her 30-city “The Truth” tour kicks off April 16, and she’ll perform at the ESSENCE Festival this July 4 weekend.

Reporting by Akoto Ofori