Sunday, May 09th

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Ledisi: Her Own Woman, Happy In Her Own Skin

ledisi1 Talking with Ledisi, it was as if I were on a lunch date with a good girlfriend. Known for fan favorites such as "Alright", "Higher Than This" and "Goin' Thru Changes", now the seven time Grammy nominated vocalist is not only kicking off her headline tour called "Be Good To Yourself", but she penned her first book entitled "Better Than Alright: Finding Peace, Love and Power"—a 176 page masterpiece that was written to give fans a full scope into who she is and the life lessons that constituted her growth as an individual.

"It's a book [comprised of] personal stories, photos and words from people who've inspired and lifted me. It is affirmations that I've written and I tell my, forgiveness, faith, those are the chapters. The forgiveness chapter is a little it!" she chuckled. "I've always been a forgiving little girl, [for instance] if you beat me up, I'll try and beat you up back, but eventually I'd forgive. It is tailor made for women in particular, but men can get into it too, let's celebrate them as well."
A collaboration with Essence Magazine and Time Home Entertainment, "Better Than Alright..." is full of inspiration and hope that encourages everyone to find their voice and most importantly, be themselves. "You are hearing the things that have happened to me, I'm telling things that I normally don't tell people about my life, so it's really cool," said Ledisi.

Readers will find out the origin of her name (yes, Ledisi is her real name) and her "amazing" experience performing for the President and First Lady three times at the White House. She also talks about the powerful 2010 Black Girls Rock! performance of the Nina Simone classic 'Four Women' in which she shared the stage with Jill Scott, Kelly Price and Marsha Ambrosius. "I had to get into Nina...who was she about, why did she write it ("Four Women")..I studied her and that was the second take...we did it twice. It took a lot and it is a process. It's so much work singing songs that other people wrote. You have to add yourself along to what they did and respect what is before you. It wasn't about me, it was about the execution," she said.

The New Orleans native also delves into the notion of beauty and how she grew up being celebrated and developed self love. "You will see the line of women I come from and the book explains it a lot clearer. There is a beauty chapter. Every day I have to tell myself I'm beautiful, because the world says something different. I think I'm fine! It's what you allow within and it all starts at home," she beamed.

Artistically, Ledisi always stays true to herself listening only to the voice that counts—her own. Music concepts and ideas are all organically created. "It starts in the studio and then it goes to the performance. I can't be someone else; I have to be me...everything happens naturally and if it's not me, it's not worth doing. I know who I am and I am ok with that. I always celebrate being a black woman and I'm never trying to fit who everyone else wanted me to be. "Pieces of Me"—all the lyrics exactly describe me being a woman and planning out the story for the world to hear. All the lyrics are what we go through as women," she said.
In reference to her stage performances, Ledisi shared her strategy in keeping the audience fully intrigued and entertained. "You have to keep their attention, so I am always thinking 'what's the show'; 'what would you want to see'. I'm always thinking about my audience because I always think about if I were sitting there and I spent my money. They don't wanna hear you complain on stage," she laughed.

With all of the recognition and major success she's attained, Ledisi isn't the least bothered by any of the comparisons to any of her beautiful and multitalented colleagues such as Jill Scott. "I don't mind either way, at the end of my life, people will know me by Ledisi. That is what I'm hoping for every time and I hope every generation gets it. Comparisons happen all the time—as long as eventually people will recognize me for my work and what I've done. When you read my book, I want you to be like 'wow, now I wanna write my story!' I want that," she said.

For more information on the tour, book and upcoming Ledisi news, please visit Ledisi on her official website, Twitter and Facebook.

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