Ledisi is high off the release of her seventh studio album, The Truth.
She sat down with us to talk about her sexier image, not caring what people think about it, why she’s glowing now and why she refuses to engage any notions that R&B is dead. She also defends Erica Campbell, and wants women to support each other and our curves. Read on to get the truth ‘Led-style.’
How have you grown as an artist and a person in this industry from your debut album, Soulsinger, to your current seventh album, The Truth?
With Soulsinger, I was figuring it out. I was just saying whatever I wanted to say and I’m still saying whatever I want to say but with more finesse. Even in my sensuality. I am comfortable in my skin now. I’m not unsure and trying to figure it out. I don’t care what you think anymore. I want to do what I want to do. There’s too many other generations and too many other people I have to reach out to as an artists to grab. By the end of my body of work, when God says it’s time for you to go, come home with me…GREAT! Did I complete all my bodies of work? Did everybody get the Ledisi that they love? Alright, I’ll see y’all later. I have to keep reaching out to other audiences. That’s why The Truth is uptempto. That’s why The Truth is me because I’m okay with my lane. Soulsinger I was not. I was like “love me, please accept me.” I didn’t even have a style. Now I have my own style. I’m still natural. I’m still me. I love myself, I love my sensuality, and being a woman. My curves and whatever I wanna do. And my label let’s me do it. I came from the independent world doing whatever and now I’m in this mainstream world doing whatever. And I’m going to keep changing and evolving as a person because I’m a person and that’s what we do.
What’s the story behind your new sexier image?
I was two songs away from being done with The Truth when I decided I have to make a lifestyle change, physically. I got a nutritionist. I don’t like the treadmill so I did [a dance class called] Hip Hop In Heels. There were girls curvier than me, and they looked good and confident and inspired me to move. It just started falling off and I starting running and eating different. Then all of a sudden I felt good and I started wearing clothes tighter. Then I saw a size 8 and was like hey go girl yeah because I didn’t know I was a size 8. In my mind I was still 12, 14, 16 and 185 pounds. My stylist was like “show these people what you got.” Then I started to do that.
So it didn’t start where oh the label told me what to do. They didn’t tell me nothing. They stay out of my way but they were happy I wanted to be that way. It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside of you, it’s what’s inside that matters. I want women to understand we need each other. We have to support each other. Even though I had women supporting me there were a lot of women just seeing my image going “you changed, you sold out.” I want them to know it started from me. It had nothing to do with a label, or music. I wanted to celebrate that part of me. I want to be seen as well as heard. I’ve been doing sexy songs – Lost & Found. Go back to the recordings and listen to the lyrics. You only heard the voice, you didn’t see the image with it and now that you see the image you’re going ‘Whoa.’ Excuse me now I was sexy before. (laughs) I was sexy on Pieces Of Me, Lost & Found, Soulsinger, Turn Me Loose. At a 185 [pounds] I was fine with me, okay! Now the big girls mad at me but I was sexy before. Did you see them dresses? I was celebrating everything. Ain’t nobody notice. I’m like y’all gonna dog me like that just because of the image but chile when the music came out, everybody happy.
I don’t do anything to offend. I do things in a classy way. You can still be classy and sensual. You can still have faith and be sensual. You can still be beautiful and celebrate your curves. I can’t believe they were going in on Erica [Campbell]. Leave that lady alone. She looks beautiful. Gorgeous! I was like oh you’re supposed to cover it? I wasn’t raised that way, but when I got in the world they said something different.
There was a time when people were saying that R&B was dead but there seems to be a resurgence as of late. What do you think is the cause of that and who do you feel are really putting on for R&B right now?
Resurgence? It’s not dead, it’s never been dead. As long as there are people like me still here singing this, it’s never gonna go. It’s just not popular. We’ve just been mixing R&B with other stuff. R&B is still the thing. We are just calling it pop. We just have other names for it now so I’m not saying it’s resurgence, NO! I’m not trying to hear it. [laughs]. Who’s R&B do I really like gosh is tough and I’m going to get in trouble because they get into color and to me music it has no color. But whoever mixes the old & the new. I don’t know who that is directly. I don’t see a big leader of it. Like when Luther [Vandross] was out we knew he was our leader of R&B.
The new album is called The Truth so what is the craziest lie a guy has ever told you?
“I’m not dating her.” [Long pause] but she told me everything. And I’m going to leave it like that. Basically he said he wasn’t dating her but the other woman reached out to me and told me the whole story. So I was like I’m going to help you out and let you do your thang and I walked away.
What are some goals and aspirations you have outside of music?
To write more books, that’s my biggest goal. I want to write different books about music and around building women’s self-esteem and confidence. I want a performing arts school one day. That’s one of my biggest dreams — to help the youth know they are special. I feel the youth need a place to vent and don’t have enough places to vent. It either costs more or isn’t in their neighborhood. I want it to be right where they can get to anything far away, because sometimes they only make them far away. I want to leave this world knowing that people enjoyed what I had to offer. Not just the music but as a person. I know too many people that do that and taught me, and gave me a hand and lifted me, and I want to do the same for others. That’s why I love people, men and women. And I want women to know they are running things, they just gotta know how to do it. They do it wrong. Get it right now.