She last left us with her ’09 funky record Turn Me Loose and now she’s back for a re-introduction, coming naked to the public eye as she reveals the “pieces” of herself. New Orleans’ R&B/Jazz singer Ledisi talks to VIBE Vixen about her fifth album Pieces of Me. In the brief conversation, Ledisi explains her two year hiatus from the studio, the inspirational events that sparked Pieces of Me, as well an in-depth insight on featured songs on the album. -Shabazz
You’ve been away for quite some time, you usually come out with back-to-back albums. What’s the reason for your two year hiatus?
It took me eight months to really get into the writing process and it took me and my executive producer Rex Rideout eight months to battle it out about what direction to go. He’s always been there, but now I wanted him to be seen for what he does for me. He’s like a thread that keeps everything attached together. And this time he said, “What is Ledisi radio?” “What do you wanna do?” “What do you wanna express?” “People know you but they don’t know who you are, we need to see that part, we need to hear it, we need that, it has to be consistent.” So we were battling out about, well “I don’t wanna do this and I don’t wanna do that,” and he’s like “Show it you need to show that part.” And it built my confidence up. And that’s what took so long, just building my confidence up to really deal with the fullness of being a woman and showing those sides, despite what others might think, I’m very shy and now I’ve had to show all that and it feels good, it feels really good revealing all these things.
It’s apparent that you experience a self transformation for the better. What are we going to see different on this project versus your previous project?
I’ve been on a wonderful journey, it hasn’t been anything negative. I was able to perform for Black Girls Rock and I’ve performed with wonderful women, Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius, and Kelly Price and that was a big turning point in my career and I got to see myself in a certain way on television and then to be at the White House singing for the Motown Tribute and then again working with Michelle Obama for a mentoring program for women. All of that plus all the other philanthropy and coming into my own walk being Ledisi, accepting Ledisi fully, being my complete self as a woman has really helped me gain a certain confidence that didn’t have before. And that’s what you’re going to hear on this project, I’m not gonna be talking about the grinding of being a singer or sad songs about wanting certain love. I feel love, I feel confident, I feel good, I feel like I can say whatever I wanna say and not think about it twice. It’s just what it is, it’s all happy, you’re gonna hear me sing a duet with Jaheim and sing a song about a relationship still sustaining. You’re gonna hear a lot of things that we all need to hear as women and as men. It’s gonna be great. I feel it’s gonna be great. I’m exuding that energy of power. I love it.
The “Pieces of Me” single praises and vouches for women. We had “Pretty Girl Rock” by Keri Hilson and Beyoncé with “Run The World (Girls)”. Can we expect any upbeat, funky women anthems on your upcoming record?
In a different kind of way. Like there’s a song called “Hate Me, Hate That You Love Me” about how so fly this woman is, that this man is chasing her and there’s a thin line between love and hate, like he’s getting disgusted, but he loves her so much. She knows it and she expresses that. Usually a guy would say that, but it’s nice to hear a woman say that. It has that kind of energy. There are women out there that do that, but we don’t celebrate them either. There’s a song called “I Gotta Get To You” that I wrote with Ivan & Carvin and mind you that other song I wrote with Rex Rideout and he’s the one that pushed me to express that more dominant side. “I Gotta Get To You” is about this urgency to get home to get to the person I love or John Legend wrote a song called “I Miss You Now” about this relationship going through this argument but now she’s like you’re gone and I need you to come back. And we had this big argument, but even your mama is like “what’s going on, bring your butt home,” it’s a lot of women oriented things on there but in a different way. And then you got to the song “Shut Up Sometime,” you know when someone tells us we’re not going to be anything and that’s how I felt, like wow the people that told me I’m not gonna be anything or you’ll never get this, I do wanna say shut up sometime, so why not write a song for that. Shut up. [laughs] And then it’ll be spiritual, I’ll write a song with Salaam Remi called “Be Good To Yourself” and I tweeted that one day, and he said “wow, what’s the thing about that” and yeah sometimes we don’t listen to what we already know. We need to be good to ourselves, we need to analyze ourselves and take time for ourselves and as women we try to run with everything, we can do 50 million things and then forget about ourselves, yeah I need to talk about those things. So it’s all celebrated in a different way and they’re all me. That’s who I am.
Your album cover is your face as a puzzle. If something was taken away from that puzzle to destroy it, what would it be?
The root of it for me is my faith. Having faith and that’s a confidence builder for me. That’s my light. My faith, my family, and my friends. Those are the big things. Music is everything, but not everything. If that makes any sense at all. If I don’t have that faith or that foundation to keep me together I couldn’t do what I do. The faith, family, and friends, the 3 F’s, I need those and if I didn’t have those that would definitely destroy my puzzle. You wouldn’t hear the music at all [laughs].