In preparation for my 4th major label album release, “Pieces of Me,”(June14th) I’m doing publicity stops and promotional tours with various media outlets. Every interviewer so far has noted how humble and gracious they find me to be.
It got me to thinking about the days when I wasn’t so humble and gracious. I started thanking God for how far I have come. I was a mess! (Laughing)
I remember the beginning of my career, before I recorded my first independent project, “Soulsinger.” I performed at small clubs in the Bay Area. I had regular gigs every Monday and Thursday night. It grew from five people to a full house each night. I felt really good about myself, so good that I became cocky. See, in my mind I was already a star and I felt I deserved only the best. I EXPECTED people to come every week. When they came and talked while I was singing, I would scream on the microphone, “Why come if you are not going to listen? Stop talking when I sing!”
I acted a fool every week. Some people thought it was funny, some just loved my talent and others stopped coming because I was so rude to my audience. They would say, “Great voice but bad attitude.” One day the club owner came to me and said, “You can’t play here anymore. I love you, I love your voice, but you are rude to people. I can’t have that anymore.” I got an attitude and left and found another club, not as big but a place to play. You’d think I had learned my lesson. Nope! (Laughing) I lost my other weekly gig after awhile for the same reason.
I always managed to get another weekly gig. Smaller club and less pay but somewhere to play. Still I didn’t learn my lesson until one night after a show. I’ll never forget this moment for the rest of my life. It was life-changing…
There I was at my new weekly gig and the place was so packed the windows kept fogging up. The show had finished and I was complaining so bad about the people requesting songs I didn’t want to sing and how I didn’t want to take pictures or sign autographs. I had so many neck rolls as I spoke about what I didn’t want to do. Chile’, when I think about it I wish I could’ve slapped my own self back then. (laughing)
My drummer finally couldn’t take it anymore. He said, “Ledisi, I am so tired of hearing you complain every show. You are so ungrateful and selfish. I’m sorry, I gotta say it. These people travel far every week to see you. They spend money to get here to see you. You can sing your ass off but your damn attitude is gonna stop you from being successful. I love playing with you but you need to learn to appreciate what you have. These people love you and you heal them with your voice. Stop being an ass.” He said all that in front of the entire band. I was embarrassed and I stormed out of the club and tried to find solace in my car.
On the drive home I was fuming and disgusted. I was so mad! How dare he tell me off! He forgot who I am. (laughing) The next day, I gave what he said more thought. I began to analyze myself. I needed to be humble and appreciate what I had and appreciate my audience. Even though I was a successful local singer, there was more that I wanted and needed to do. I didn’t have a CD out yet and I hadn’t sung around the world like I dreamed about doing. I was playing with great musicians and none of us were paid what we were worth, but we were having fun! I needed to enjoy this! It was then that I realized I had to change.
After that, I thanked my audience every night, signed pictures and talked to every person until the club owner would kick me out. (I still do that today) When I finally came out with my first independent project, “Soulsinger,” I was performing in larger venues, selling out all of my shows AND my CDs.
I remember a fan asked a close friend of mine, “What happened to Ledisi? She seems nicer, calmer and humble.” Finally, they were seeing my heart not just my talent. To this day that drummer and I are close friends.
The Lesson: “Be Humble! In the end people really care about how you treat them not just how good you are at what you do.”
And that’s my Ledisi Lesson
“Enjoy the journey… right where u are”