Music Interview: Soul Singer Ledisi on Her Book Entitled Better Than Alright

By: Lele Symone

Ledisi’s slow and steady successes as a performer and as a woman have done more than pack venues and move units—it’s placed her at the forefront of a burgeoning self-love movement, and instead of running from the term ‘role model’ like other peers, she’s embracing it.  

In addition to meeting and greeting her fans on the road this summer with the Essence Music Festival and her second solo-headlining tour, B.G.T.Y. (“Be Good To Yourself,” with Eric Benet) , Ledisi has decided to share even more “Pieces” of herself with “Better Than Alright: Finding Peace, Love & Power” is a book she authored via a collaborative effort with Essence Magazine that comes out June 5 and gives intimate glimpse of the woman, the music and the process. Despite a jammed schedule, Ms. Young gave a personal preview of what fans can look for within the pages and what they can draw from her experiences for their own hectic lives….

KNOWSHI.COM-Can’t wait to see what you’re breaking down in the new book Ledisi, what can you tell us about it?

LEDISI A. YOUNG- “I loved collaborating with Essence on this book because it celebrates women, women of color in particular. And as a woman of color, it feels good to partner up with them and talk about my journey. There are personal photos inside and stories about the women who reached back to help me, plus it’s interactive, which I love.”

KNOWSHI.COM-What topics do you explore specifically?

LEDISI- “In the book, there’s a chapter called ‘Beauty’: I talk about how I tell myself ‘I’m beautiful’ everyday because the world says something different. I didn’t know I was considered ‘ugly’ to someone until they said it, because all of my life I’d been told I was beautiful, especially by my mother in particular, so when I got out there in the world, I heard differently.  

There are also other versions of beauty out there and I talk about those, saying that the woman we typically would consider ‘beautiful’ may look that way on the outside to the rest of the world, but on the inside, she may be ‘broken.’ There are so many things in other chapters that I talk about: ‘Love.’ ‘Forgiveness.’ ‘Faith.’ ‘Exiting Stage Left,’ all of these different aspects that we can learn from. Men may enjoy some parts of “…..Alright,” since there are men that I celebrate—there’s a quote from President Obama inside that speaks to learning from your failures, for example—but it’s especially for women because I am a woman and that’s all I can really  talk about (laughs). The book has a lot of great stuff inside that I’m proud of: photographs that I’ve never shown, pictures of family members that I don’t really talk about (publically) and those are the people who really helped me to get to where I am.”

KNOWSHI.COM- Speaking of men, Is there a tall drink of “Coffee” (a song on her latest CD celebrating Black men) in your life that you’re going to feature in the book, or…..

LEDISI- (laughs) “Thanks, I love that song “Coffee”—-as for a man, well, he may be inside the pages or  mentioned inside, you’ll just have to read it for yourself and see.”

KNOWSHI.COM- Uh-oh, we really have to check it out now! But okay, back to the book: who would you say you learned from the most in your discovery of self-worth? I have two girls that I’m trying to keep empowered and if we don’t tell them they’re beautiful and worthy, no one will. They love your CD, by the way.”

LEDISI- “Aw, that’s great. My first teacher is my mother, and I look at her for everything, even now. Being a parent is the hardest job ever and it all starts at home. Since you’re already a mother, you know you have to tell your kids what to seek out so they won’t look for those things and always be an example to them. It’s hard sometimes to be a woman, and all of those emotions I sing about in ‘Pieces Of Me,’ we are just made that way, it’s how we control all that we have to go through.”

KNOWSHI.COM- Absolutely: before we wrap up, is there any other project waiting in the wings for fans to look for, beyond your upcoming shows and the new book—-like more new music? And what direction will you be going in artistically?

LEDISI- “I’m always working on new material, but I’m not going to disclose where I’m at with it because I’m all about the element of surprise; I will tell you that after the book and the tour this summer, I’ll start looking ahead at what’s next for me.”

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