*Music is the start and finish of many major influencing movements in this life. As an artist, it should be an innate habit for you not only to read the room but also read the world. This can only be achieved by physically entering these spaces, traveling, engaging in uncomfortable conversations, and taking action toward newfound revelations.
This is the very thing that New Orleans-born and Oakland-raised singer Ledisi has implemented in her honorable tribute album for the legendary Nina Simone, entitled: “Ledisi Sings Nina.” This meticulously crafted seven-song project incorporates social and intimate elements from Simone’s previous work. “Ledisi Sings Nina,” an authentic collection, respectively encompasses worldwide angles of social injustices and personal experiences, pieces were recorded in Holland, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, thankfully before the pandemic hit.
The album precisely balances an upbeat tempo, big-band energy with atmospheric harmony, and attention to historic detail that succeeds in connecting with the music of our modern hip-hop/R&B era. With the dominance of Ledisi’s voice and the powerful messages of Simone’s lyrics regarding self-love, Black Women appreciation and a collective resistance through protest, the relevance to a BLM generation stands firm. As what we’re facing today correlates with the same inhumane challenges and detrimental struggles of the 1960s.
“Ledisi Sings Nina” also serves as an inevitable path for Ledisi, as she has been a fan of Nina and focused on the style of her music since she was a little girl. She reflects on moments in her adolescence that have brought her here: “We lived in a shotgun house in New Orleans and my mom would wake us up by singing ‘…and everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam!’
“Later I learned that was Nina. But when I heard her for real, I was still very young—in Oakland in my 20s. I was depressed, my life was a mess, and I heard her on the radio singing ‘Trouble in Mind.’ I heard the life in there. It woke me up. I was feeling discouraged for being different, for being the oddball that liked every style—blues and jazz and Broadway and hip-hop. I had sung every club in the Bay Area, done every gig. Nina’s voice said to me I was not alone. Her voice saved my life and woke me up and taught me to be fearless. I had two pieces of luggage and moved to New York City after that.”
Nonetheless, Ledisi like any other child with a dream and an idol stuck through all that seemed very confusing and hateful at a time to inevitably land her here!