Ledisi Reveals ‘The Truth’ About Her Sexy Metamorphosis [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Ledisi is a changed woman. The difference is heard on her new album, 'The Truth,' which marks a stark contrast from her usual ballad-friendly style to a surprisingly uptempo, danceable sound. After earning her reputation as one of the great balladeers, she flipped the script, catching her fans off guard.
The eight-time Grammy nominee says the new sound reflects her new outlook on life. "I am enjoying life more, most definitely," she tells The Boombox. "I am more uninhibited, having more fun. Loving myself more. I titled the CD 'The Truth' because I'm more open, more open to life. I let go of the emotional baggage I was carrying and I am feeling free."
A romantic breakup caused her to reevaluate her life, which is chronicled in the title track. Instead of eating her way through depression, she decided to live a healthier life -- exercising, dancing, being more conscious of nutrition, resulting in her more svelte figure. Ledisi says the transformation was intensified by choreographer Brandee Evans' Hip-Hop in Heels dance class.
"It boosted my confidence, inside and outside," the 42-year-old reveals. "I am amazed what she taught me. Before I thought I could not do it. Now my mind knows I can do it. I like the heels. The higher the heels, the higher you feel. You feel taller. I love the way I am now."
She loves herself more than ever and even has a new love in her life, which inspired her single 'I Blame You.' Take a look at the new Ledisi in the accompanying video for the song, in which she metaphorically morphs from a moth into a butterfly, from a self-conscious introvert into a sexy, confident woman who burns up the dance floor.
"The video is me, mentally and physically," Ledisi says. "I can be shy and nerdy, and I can also be what you see later in the video. But I am only that way in private, not in public."
Watch Ledisi's 'I Blame You' Video
The transition was first evident publicly when she performed 'I Blame You' for the first time at last year's 'Black Girls Rock!'
"People were shocked by my appearance in the catsuit and stilettos," the New Orleans native reveals. "It woke people up. It had an impact. Before, people only saw me as a voice. They did not have a visual of me. People said they did not see me, they only heard me. I am more than a voice. I am evolving. I am sensual, I am beautiful."
Her sexier image and lyrics are shocking some of her fans. Ledisi says she's sung provocative songs before, but now they are more noticeable because of her new look.
"I have had sexy songs before like 'In the Morning [from her 2007 'Lost & Found'] but people did not really notice the lyrics. Now they are noticing because I am introducing you to the visual side of me," the songstress states.
There's also the erotic side of Ledisi, especially on 'Lose Control,' featured on 'The Truth.' "It's very sensual," she admits. "It's for women who love their men and the way they treat them, so this is a reward for the men for loving them. It's sensual in a classy way."
Makes you wonder if 'Lose Control' is being played in the Presidential bedroom. Ledisi is Michelle Obama's favorite singer and has performed six times at the White House, including at the First Lady's 50th birthday party in January. "The Obamas are gracious," Ledisi says humbly. "They are still the same. They love music and they love artists. Music keeps them moving forward. I am happy they like my music."
Another highlight for Ledisi occurred this year at the NAACP Image Awards in February. Despite losing to Beyonce for Outstanding Female Artist, the singer felt like a winner at the after-party. Stevie Wonder thrilled her, and the crowd, with a one-word spontaneous song consisting simply of her name.
"That was amazing," Ledisi discloses. "He was asked to come on stage and he asked the audience to get quiet. Then he sang a song just out of my name. I was honored and also honored that he plays my music on his radio station KJLH."
Wonder and Obama are among a list of superstars who adore Ledisi; a list that also includes Patti LaBelle and Prince. LaBelle has anointed her as her successor, announcing she is passing the torch to Ledisi who she descries as "the new me." Plus, Ledisi has joined Prince several times on stage and in the recording studio, including featuring her on his 2013 duet 'Ain't Gonna Miss U When U're Gone.'
"He's incredible," Ledisi says in admiration. "I've learned a lot from him. I can't wait to record with him again. I've sung background for him four times live. He and Isaac Hayes are the only artists I have ever sung background for. But I'm a terrible background singer because I always end up taking the lead."
Obviously Ledisi is a leader. 2014 has been filled with several special events including a performance at the Essence magazine 'Black Men in Hollywood' dinner, and also the prestigious Governors Ball following the Academy Awards. Now she's preparing for The Truth tour, which kicks off April 16 in Jacksonville, Fla. The trek will also feature The Robert Glasper Experiment as her opening act.
Now that she's experienced a metamorphosis with a sexier look and more sensual uptempo music, fans are wondering if this signals a new stage persona (think Beyonce's Sasha Fierce). Will she sacrifice vocalizing for stiletto dance moves? The fiery chanteuse, whose impassioned performances have become her staple, won't necessarily adopt a new live presentation. Ledisi says there is no reason to worry. The new sound and new doesn't mean her priorities have changed. "I am a singer first," she reminds. "You'll hear more great singing; that is the truth."
Watch Ledisi's 'In the Morning' Video