Written by: Melody Charles
Courage, confidence, trial and transformation: in the nearly three years since her last album Pieces Of Me, singer and songwriter Ledisi Young has experienced growth and loss. Getting good with herself dovetailed with leaving a long-term relationship, but instead of secluding herself to the shadows and licking her wounds, the eight-time Grammy nominee poured her personal joys and pains into music and created THE TRUTH, a decidedly celebratory and upbeat examination of her life’s ups, downs and everything in-between.
On the verge of hitting the road this summer with R&B peer, Robert Glasper, Ledisi chatted with us by phone and is excited about her updated image and artistry. “I just want to be myself as is. Music is my way of journaling, and what’s put out there is what I’ve chosen to. People are out there saying ‘Oh the label made her do this and change this…’ No, I’ve been changing the whole time, you just haven’t noticed because all you did was listen. My visual presentation is about wanting you to see the look as well.”
Since the CD is brimming with empowerment and gladness-filled songs like “Anything,” “Rock with You” and her current hit single, “I Blame You,” it’s hard to believe that Ledisi recorded the new album while terminating a love affair. “Most people go through things, but some people want to live in the pain and I don’t want to do that. I’ll talk about it, but it’s better to go on from there and be celebratory about life. Everyone was sending me all these ballads and I came in there saying ‘Nope, not gonna do that.’ I need more up-tempos because I’m excited about growing and I’m taking dance classes now, so I want everything more upbeat.
Pieces… was about getting permission to be who I am, ‘Can I say this and be that?’ And with The Truth, I’m like ‘Whatever, this is who I am.’ I just stopped caring so much and said ‘Do what makes you happy Les, stop over-analyzing so much.’ Be free, just go for it and commit to be you. And that’s what it’s about.”
Ledisi not only switched up her style, she also dove deeper into her most vulnerable moments, putting her wounded heart and broken dreams to music on the wrenching, cathartic title track and “88 Boxes,” which summarized all she felt remained after that broken union. When asked about her current relationship status, the New Orleans native laughingly kept it vague. “I’m happy and doing real good for myself, I’ll leave it at that.”
With so much on her plate and so many possibilities on the horizon (a main stage act for the second time at Essence’s Music Festival this summer, a couple of drafts for a new book she’s hoping to publish), Ledisi is about forward movement, doing her and un-apologetically expecting the best. “I recorded what I wanted to and continue my personal growth because it starts on the inside, not the outside. Anything I present, I have to fully live it and be it.
“People saying what they say…I don’t have the energy for that, this is where I am right now and I’ll let you judge it however you want to judge it. I’m happy with what I’ve put out there, I can’t get inside everybody else’s head and if they’re getting something negative, it’s about something going on inside of them. I have too great a gift to remain shy and in the background, I want to be noticed more now visually just as I have been heard vocally. It’s about getting the love you deserve that you’ve asked for, shining and not being afraid to shine. Just be who you are.”