For years, Ledisi’s claim to fame has been her powerhouse voice and signature locs, but who knew the songbird could shake her tailfeather, too?! At this year’s Black Girls Rock! Awards, attendees were in for a treat when the usually reserved R&B chanteuse took to the stage in a snatched Alexander McQueen catsuit and belted out her latest single “I Blame You” without missing a beat. Surrounded by a bevy of dancers in equally tantalizing wardrobe, Ledisi emerged a new woman, not only ready to be heard, but seen as well.
Like many R&B singers, Ledisi is pretty much synonymous with underrated. Armed with a voice that many women dream of having, she’s usually the (Grammy-nominated) voice you know, but the face you can’t remember. Lucky for us, the New Orleans native has reinvented her image, giving the traditional R&B world a burst of energy and musical facelift.
Keep reading for an inside scoop on Ledisi’s upcoming LP, what inspired her BGR performance and her favorite “honest” artist.
Photo Credit: Getty Images for BET
You looked amazing at the Black Girls Rock! Awards. What inspired the Alexander McQueen catsuit?
We had already had it for my video and I said, “Well, why don’t we just keep going with this and use it for the show? I’m fully clothed, so it’ll be fine (laughs).” It’s hard to dance in a dress, so I have to wear something that I can move in. He’s my favorite designer and I never thought I’d be able to wear any of his clothing. That’s not something I would wear around and about town (laughs), but it is definitely a part of me.
This is the most dancing we’ve ever seen from you. What made you want to switch things up?
I just started in the summer. I’ve been influenced by dancing since I was a little kid and I did it on the last two tours that I was on, but never took a full class. So I took a Hip Hop in Heels class with Brandi Evans, just to build up my confidence. I’ve always danced in 6/7 inch heels, but now to really dance in them is amazing. We took private lessons as well as classes with all the other women who were curvy and beautiful and supportive.
What artists do you enjoy watching dance onstage?
I love Tina Turner. Of course Beyonce is incredible. And I love Liza Minnelli as far as Broadway stuff. I love Broadway and the old Vaudeville variety shows.
How do you feel about being labeled as “underrated?”
First of all, it’s a compliment because people are still loving the boxes that they place me in and they are listening to who I am. I’m sort of the person that’s always heard, but never seen. You may remember my hair, but you don’t remember who I am or what I look like. Now, all of that is coming together with the marketing thing because I don’t think I’ve been marketed properly. And it’s changing because I’m changing and demanding a certain imagery out there for myself.
You’ve described your upcoming album, The Truth, as your most personal project yet. What will listeners be most surprised by?
The honesty and love of self. They’re gonna go wild because it’s so honest. It’s still Ledisi because she’s still singin her face off (laughs). The whole thing as a body of work is personal, but the title track and another song- I don’t want to give it away- are the deepest. But, when you hear it, you’ll go, “Woah, this is real honest” (laughs).
What is the most honest album you’ve heard as a fan?
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. She’s herself. It wasn’t something that was planned. Bob Marley would be the other. All of his stuff is honest, open and personal. When you are yourself, you can tell it’s not planned. You can tell it’s that person being themselves; no stylist put it together and said, “This is who you’re going to be.” They are being who they are in that stage of their life. What I found about Lauryn Hill and what I love about her still is that she’s being who she is in that moment. You can put her in a box of how you want her to be, but she’s always going to be herself. I love that about honest people; if you love them- love them all the way. I’ll always be a fan no matter what. I had the pleasure of working with her briefly and she was herself just like she was on the album.
When will we see a video for “I Blame You?”
The album comes out February of next year, but as far as the video, I do not have a clue. But I can’t wait for you to see it. It’s directed by Derek Blanks and we worked on the concept together because it’s my life (laughs). It’s funny, fabulous and fashion forward.
Check out Ledisi’s much-talked about BGR performance below.