Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

32nd Edition of UNCF Evening of Stars Airs Jan. 29, 2011



Keadrick D. Washington/PR Photos


This year’s UNCF An Evening of Stars telecast pays tribute to one of my favorite singers, Ms. Chaka Khan. I was honored to be chosen as one of the participants in the program. She was stunning on the red carpet and it was great to see her with all of the children she helps with her Chaka Kahn Foundation (http://www.chakakhanfoundation.org/ ).

Many stars came out to show their love and support for Chaka and The United Negro College Fund. I was nervous as usual and prayed it didn't show. Truthfully, I am still extremely shy working the red carpet and then to have to
perform a classic in front of a Legend was very nerve wracking! LOL! Regardless, I sucked it up and did my best. Gratefully, I ended the song to a standing ovation, so I made it through that one! God is awesome! It's all still new to me.

I met Akon at the taping of last year’s Lionel Richie Tribute and it was really great seeing him again. It was also great watching El Debarge, Melanie Fiona, Faith Evans (she was divine), Angie Stone, Fantasia (electric) and so many more artists perform all of Chaka's hit songs. My two favorite performances of the night were Chaka's daughter Milini and brother Mark’s rendition of "Do You Love What You Feel" and Ms. Bettye LaVette and Herbie Hancock's performance of "Love Me Still." A real tearjerker.

It's funny, I felt like I was the only person backstage who knew about Ms. Bettye LaVette. I kept whispering to everyone, “Wait until you hear Ms. LaVette.” Before she took the stage, I had the opportunity to tell her how much I love her work. I behaved like a real groupie and could not control my nonsense, LOL! She looked at me and said, “I am honored someone as young as you know who I am.” LOL! In true Bette LaVette style, she walked away and went about her business . . .

So much greatness in one night! Make sure you tune in on January 29. For more information and to make a donation to the United Negro College Fund, please visit: http://www.uncf.org/aeos/

Singer To Singer: Kelly Price

She's BACK! Grammy Nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance,finishing her New CD entitled "Kelly" (2011), memorable television and stage performances and her new single "Tired" breaking into Urban AC Radio.2011 has just begun and already Ms. Kelly Price is starting this year ahead.Before her single and before her nomination, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly about her life,music and all the many things she does.Unedited she bares her soul.

LED:Where are you originally from?

Kelly:NY. South Jamaica/Far Rockaway to be specific.

LED: What was your first professional gig and what was that like?

Kelly:My first pro gig was with George Michael at Madison Square Garden in January 1992. George had his band and singers but he wanted a more full gospel flavored sound for the live versions of "Father Figure" and a few other of his songs. He hired a local choir for the first night and was so displeased at the result that he had Sony on a man hunt for a replacement the next morning. A friend of mine (who was a music composer) had recently put together all of the music for one of Luther Vandross' (also a Sony artist) BG Singers. With the word all over SONY that day George Michael's request reached Vandross' camp and his BG Singer referred my friend to put a choir together and he got the call. He called me at 3p and said "I need you. I got a gig to sing background for George Michael. Can you be there by 5p to learn the music? Oh and wear all black we go on tonight at 8p!" Needless to say I did it. It was the incredible reviews and the way George Michael ranted and raved about us that got that got my friend the call to put together the choir for Mariah Carey's Grammy performance 1 month later. Of course we know I landed the MC BG Singer gig and worked for her nearly 7yrs prior to my own solo career taking off.

LED:Do you still keep in touch with your former producers PDiddy and R. Kelly?

Kelly:Yes. I don't speak with either of them daily. I actually see and speak to R. Kelly a lot more frequently than I do Puff. In fact Rob was the one who told me to write the song TIRED and don't be afraid to be TOTALLY HONEST about everything in my life. Though both men are are busy (and so am I) and we understand each others lives VERY WELL (the similarities AND the differences) but early on we developed the kind of relationships that are built on mutual respect and a REAL love of what the others' talents are. That kind of connection doesn't require daily conversation or even weekly or monthly conversation to maintain the status of friend. They can call me anytime they need me (AND THEY HAVE AND DO) and I can call them anytime (AND I HAVE). When those calls go out we reconnect and there's no sense of loss or lost time.

LED:Are you working with any of them on your upcoming release?

Kelly:Rob (R.Kelly) and I planned to work together to do some things for this new project "KELLY". Creative changes this year pushed the release of this project up by a few months at which point conflicting schedules caused the new collabo to miss the deadline for "KELLY". It will make the new project after this one though. And yes....there will be another one coming RIGHT after this one. Puff and I have been threatening to make that happen for years yet it hasn't. The good thing about it is his word is good with me and my credit is good with him! LOL!

LED:What's the name of your new CD and what inspired your latest creation?

Kelly: "KELLY" is the name of the new project and life was its inspiration. No long answer there...

LED: You are also an author, what was it like writing your first book?

Kelly: Very humbling. I was nervous and had a lot of apprehension about it because of the subject matter. I am a song writer and have been gifted in the area writing from a young age (poetry, school papers etc). I sometimes even wrote papers for college kids when I was in HS. But to write an entire book and self publish it with no co-writer was a little threatening at first. Especially because I was looking so hard at spirituality vs "organized" religion (specifically in the african american culture) and challenging a lot of the more traditional ways of thinking when it comes to Christianity. I knew this task was one that would likely draw EXTREME ridicule and maybe even backlash from traditional pentecostal church sects.

LED:Are you planning on writing more books and if so what will the subject matter be?

Kelly:Yes. I eventually plan to write about my life in the background and backstage in the music business. I've worked with so many incredible people and going from being a back ground singer to being a song writer, arranger and producer to an artist has had some interesting moments. Read worthy moments... I promise. I've just finished a cook book and a book about how to get into this music business and I plan to write another installment to the first book Inscriptions of My Heart as well as my autobiography. Inscriptions 2 will be in the next couple of years. I will detail a lot of what I experienced traveling the country promoting my gospel CD and how it substantiates much of what was in the 1st installment of Inscriptions. VERY READ WORTHY.... and the autobiography will have to wait until I can find a way to tell the truth about my entire life without hurting several family members. That may take a while but it will happen. It will free me from a lot that I carry even now that I can't speak of.

LED:What was it like for you performing on the BET Gospel Celebration 2010?

Kelly:Every time I perform for COG it has resulted in a very special and memorable moment. This year was no less. As always GOD was gracious and took my natural and made it supernatural. Im not THAT GOOD but HE definitely is. I already loved what you do artistically and creatively but I walked away with a new friend in you which turned out to be the real bonus in all of this!!

LED:What do you say to people who say you should not sing both gospel and r&b?

Kelly:I used to spend a lot of time trying to explain who I am and what my life's assignment is. Now and then i will still talk to people about it if i feel it is not a waste of my time and they really want to know and its not about trying to ridicule what I do. For the rest of them my answer is GOD is the creator of all gifts good and perfect. He made me good and coupled it with his perfect and it works. He opened the doors and allowed me to walk thru them. IF HE DIDNT WANT ME HERE DOING WHAT I DO he IS GOD he could change that at any time. Furthermore I say to those who have SOOO much time on their hands that they can spend it scrutinizing my JOB and my PURPOSE in life...that what I do isn't for everyone. It's hard. Because of the stand I take the church watches me and so does everyone else. Maybe THEY shouldn't or even couldn't do it if for no other reason then because of the way the think. They would do more harm than good to the people who really need to SEE GOD living in a person and not just HEAR people spitting the same rule based and mostly NON BIBLICAL, NON SPIRITUAL rhetoric.
I believe that you know a tree by it's fruit. I haven't crossed 1 person yet who can charge me with living a life that shows, me to have an ETHICALLY FEARLESS, GODLESS or MORALLY CHALLENGED character. Im not perfect and don't claim to be but what I speak and what I believe is what I live on purpose everyday even when I come up short. #CHECKMYLIFE

LED:What inspired your new single Tired?

Kelly:360 degrees of living Kelly Price's life inspired this song. There are references to my marriage, motherhood, family relations, friendships, business relations, the recession, my faith, church and all from my point of view. People are TIRED. We're all TIRED. Living life as a "celebrity" doesn't keep life from happening so we get TIRED too. I think people feel less alone and less alienated when they know they aren't the only ones going thru it. If we can't reveal our true selves in our art what are we doing this for?

LED:What should your fans expect from you in the future?

Kelly:I am back to my first love which is WRITING. Im writing everything. Scripts, manuscripts, books and back to writing songs for other artists like I was before my own solo career. Acting is on my radar as well. Word is Im a bit of of a drama queen (why is that? LOL!). If I am I may as well get paid for it right?
What have you learned that you wish someone would have told you before becoming an artist?
Don't check the money people ALL the time. You're not smart enough. Check the money people EVERY TIME then HIRE a checker to check the money people and then HIRE a checker to check the checkers. Live and learn. Now I know.

LED:What advice would you give upcoming vocalist, songwriter or author?

Kelly: Buy my book "But I Just Want To Sing", follow the instructions to the letter AND invest in yourself. If you don't NO ONE ELSE WILL!

LED:What is your favorite word?

Kelly:Too many words in the English language to pick just one. I LOVE TO TALK and I LOVE TO WRITE! President Obama's favorite word is "fundamental"...my daughter's is "REALLY?" with the question mark! LOL!!

LED:What is your favorite sound?

Kelly:It's a tie between a baby laughing and the sound of my background vocals AFTER they've been mixed by Peter Mokran (my mixing engineer for the last 12 years and EVERY CD I've done) Love you PeteMo!

LED:What do you love?

Kelly: I LOVE looking at where I come from and even some of the history in my family that threatened to sideline my life and realizing that I beat the odds. I did it with God's direction and help but I CHOSE to ignore statistics and even what people said TO me and ABOUT me and I beat the odds. I did it! I LOVE TELLING OTHER PEOPLE FROM SIMILAR SITUATIONS THAT THEY CAN DO IT TOO!
http://www.kellyprice.com/

All That Jazz! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

This year I spent Christmas and New Years Eve with the Count Basie Orchestra and Marcus Shelby in Japan.What a wonderful night it was singing with my favorite Big Band.I am honored that they let me tag along. Here are some images and footage from our shows at the Blue Note in New York to give you an idea of what Japan was like.Also some of my friends stopped by.

photos by Louis Moore GreenlightDrop Photographix










Friday, September 3, 2010

Dream......

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

LEDISI IN JULY 2010 ISSUE of ESSENCE MAGAZINE











CHECK OUT LEDISI's SPECIAL SONG for Essence Magazine http://www.essence.com

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

LEDISI INSIDE & OUT ALTER EGO PHOTOS by D. BLANKS








A Quick Interview with "The Man Behind The Camera Derek Blanks"

This was my first time shooting with Mr. Blanks and his crew and I have to say I was a nervous wreck (laughing). I have had the worst experiences with photographers and honestly, I am not a fan of being photographed. Some photographers can be very intense and focused, which is understandable because photographers are artists and they are passionate about their craft. They generally don't like input. I know because I am loving my new fascination with becoming a great photographer myself. I remember telling Mr. Blanks how silly I am like Lucille Ball, but that I would love for people to see a sexy side of me as well. My Red Locs were inspired by Lucille Ball and I love making people laugh. Not only did he capture my inner and my outer spirit, he made time for me and blessed me with a rare interview. He doesn't like to say much, but his work speaks volumes.

Ledisi:Where are you originally from?

Blanks:Jackson, Mississippi

Ledisi:Why photography? What or who inspired that?

Blanks:My primary background is in Painting and Illustration. I originally used photography as a medium for reference when working with portraits (painting and illustration).  I made the transition into photography because it provided instant gratification, where as in painting, the turnaround, for me, was 30-40 hrs. 

Ledisi:What was your first shoot like?

Blanks:Pretty cool. I got to meet dead people lol. No, my first memorable shoot took place in a cemetery while in art school. 

Ledisi:Has this profession been everything you hoped it would be?

Blanks:It has exceeded my expectations. I am truly blessed and thankful for being afforded each opportunity that has come my way, good and bad, as I try to make every situation a learning experience.

Ledisi:What or who do you live for?

Blanks:I live for God, my family and myself. 

Ledisi:Favorite song?Why?

Blanks:That’s a tough one... I’ll go with “On the Ocean” by K’Jon

Ledisi:Favorite shoot?Why?

Blanks:My very first Jennifer Hudson photo shoot because the energy was great, she (Jennifer) was my first breakthrough artist and because the shoot also produced timeless images. 

Ledisi:Who do you listen to the most?

Blanks::Honestly, I’m really well rounded and listen to lots of great things and people. It kind of depends on my mood or the setting. 


http://www.dblanks.com
http://www.twitter.com/dblanks
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BEHIND THE SHOOT
video

LEDISI ON SUNDAY BEST see it on BET June 13, 2010



photo by BunnyBoots Photography 2010
make-up by Ronald Landers

"Backstage with my Stylist Justin "Mr. Polished" Ellis. Thanks Justin for making me comfortable and elegant."

Part 2 Europe: The Journey Overseas


photo by BunnyBoots Photography 2010 " Thanks Mandy "

Day 5
Finally!I woke up from almost a day and a half of jet lag and managed somehow to walk to sound check. As I made my way to the Paradiso, I remembered walking down this same street 6 years ago, imagining myself living there. I reminisced about how excited the people were, anticipating the mysteries of what the night would bring. The cool wind from the water gave a soft chill as I looked around at the Dutch and the tourists. So much freedom in Amsterdam, I remember thinking to myself. This could not be the same place where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis in the attic, could it? Where she stayed was just a few miles away from my hotel. It's so beautiful here. Every time I come back I think of all my memories, my friend Harry helping me to find my father and my friend Kees taking me out for curried chicken. So much history this place holds for me and so many beautiful memories.

This was the first time I walked into the Paradiso and the staff knew me immediately. They were surprised to see me come in by myself. The party had already begun with Mos Def and his DJ who made the big stage rumble. A crowd filled the big room which was a across from our stage which was in the smaller room. After catching Mos Def for a bit, I went to sound check and told my sound engineer I was going to head back to the hotel. I felt really sick and all I wanted to do was to lay down.

Back in my room, my phone rang and it was Sandra St. Victor. We talked for almost an hour and it felt good to catch up with my friend. I wish more singers would uplift one another and not be so competitive.I guess that's the nature of the music business. She encouraged me to keep doing my thing and encouraged her to finish another CD. Time passed quickly and before I knew it - it was show time. I was ready to go and that small room was packed! People hugged the stage and as I walked on, the sound of their cheers almost brought me to tears. It was a magical night. This time around I did not have the chance to hang out with my friends but they really came out and I felt their love and happiness in seeing how I had grown as an artist. I just hope they know I love them and appreciated their presence. Amsterdam as usual showed us love. After the show, I went straight back to my hotel and went to bed. Earlier, as I soared on stage, so were the Ashes in Iceland and they loomed around us. We were oblivious to what was to come...

Day 6
The next day was the train ride to Germany. I loved the big Cathedral outside the train station, it clearly let us know we were now in Germany. No time to check out the sites, we were off to sound check. I had a chance to walk around near the club and visit a little grocery store across the street. The smell of the herbs and fresh fruit in the store reminded me to embrace the little things. Found some tea and my brief tour brought me back to the reason why I was there...

After changing into my stage gear, I walked up to the club and there were photographers and fans waiting outside the back entrance. I signed autographs and took pictures of course, but honestly I was shocked that they were there! People knew me here? When I hit the stage I realized, yes, they do, they know you. They sang and danced and I had to tell them not to shoot video or take photos. That annoyed them I'm sure (laughing), but the music kept everyone happy. The best part of the first show in Germany was watching the band members solo on “Alright.” It was amazing! The crowd ate it up.

Later that night...almost 1 am, we were all hungry and we walked to Burger King, which was supposed to be around the corner but ended up being far, far away. We laughed and joked about the walk and kept encouraging our bass player to keep going. On the way something really cool happened, we saw big huge posters of my face and the show advertised on a fence along with other artists. I had never seen my show advertisements posted all over the place before. It brought me to tears and we were all excited to see posters everywhere. I remember walking past posters of major artists in New York City thinking one day that was going to be my CD poster plastered everywhere. Wow....I thought, I'm getting closer to that dream.

As we arrived in Berlin, everyone was tired but excited to see what the city had to offer. I had been there before with my best friend Dexter (RIP) so it held many memories for me. This show was going to be a challenge for me because Dexter constantly begged me to come to Berlin and perform. "They need to see you! They will love you!" he kept saying. I had finally made it to Berlin and he was not there physically to enjoy it with me. All day I felt weird because I could not call my mom and tell her how painful this was for me. But of course, I sucked it up and got on that stage and did that show for Dexter. I sang everything like he would have wanted me too. People came and they loved what we gave. I even made it through without crying.

That night some of the band members and I went out and walked along The Berlin Wall. We took photos and talked about the trip and looked forward to heading home. But.....The next day will be a day I will never forget. Well... That next week I will never forget.


Day 7-Day 12
Two band members left early and the rest of us took separate flights. My tour manager had a different flight as well. My manager also left early. By the time we arrived at the airport in London, our flights had been canceled. No one had answers and the Ash from the volcano in Iceland hovered over most of Europe. The Polish President died in a plane crash and his funeral was that week. This was the first televised election in Britain and the worse traffic jam in the sky since 9 /11.

No one was going anywhere. Three people out of my unit had made it home safely. The rest of us were stuck in Europe for 4 more days. I had to take care of all 6 of us. Made the best of the stay by making new friends, writing songs and eating fish and chips by the London Bridge. I was finally able to see Abbey Road Studios where my favorite group the Beatles, recorded their hits. Some of us whined about being there and all of us longed to be home. I learned a lot about patience and about myself as a person during this time. I also learned a lot about people and how they behave when they are in distress. The most important thing I learned is to wait on God.

My background singer/friend Kamaria sent this to me after the Ash cleared up a little,"up on the mountain my Lord spoke out of his mouth came fire and smoke"

I love Europe and as always created a lot of great memories. Can't wait to go back. I'll return once the dust settles...”

TOM JOYNER CRUISE:Memories

I learned so much about Tom Joyner while on his cruise. Not only does he love music, but he loves giving back to the community and elevating the youth. I left there inspired by Roland Martin, Soledad O’Brien, Jeff Johnson and Minister Farrakhan. There were discussions about religion, relationships and black colleges. Being around all these people on one cruise talking about a variety of hot topics, taught me so much and highlighted how beautifully eclectic we are as African Americans. We have so many different views but want the same goals, Peace, Love and Respect as a race.

The comedians had their say and boy did they say whatever came to mind. Laughter puts everything back into perspective. I also learned a lot hanging out with Legends like Charlie Wilson, Ron Isley, Kevon Edmonds and my favorite hang, Frankie Beverly and Maze. There was a tribute to Frankie Beverly and Maze and I was chosen to sing "Happy Feelings." I cannot explain to you how uncomfortable it is every single time, to sing a song to the original artist who made it a hit. My nerves always get the best of me, LOL! It was also a treat to hang out with KEM while we watched Melissa Morgan perform. There were so many wonderful moments on the cruise.

Hip Hop night was great! Seeing Doug E. Fresh, Monie Love, Common, Fat Boys, Arrested Development and so many more. That was my favorite night ever! Doug E. Fresh stole the show! More great moments took place off the ship, hanging out with my dear friend/writer/ radio personality, Jawn Murrary. The weather was awesome on the beach. Here is a photo we took on the beach. Thanks to Mr. Tom Joyner, for letting me be a part of a wonderful fantastic voyage!


photo by BunnyBoots Photography 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

IN MY EAR: BALANCE by TED WINN

TED WINN Gives us Balance



photo by D. Blanks


When I first heard the song " Moving Forward" by Ted Winn, I was riding in a car in LA with his Manager Mr. Roland Jack, who is also my Tour Manager and the General Manager for LedHead Productions. He played this song and I began to cry and tweet about it on twitter. I was moved by the lyrics and the production of the vocals and music. That one song led me to seek out the history of Ted Winn. I listened to a full day of TED and SHERRI’s CD as well as their individual projects. Sherri is Sherri Jones-Moffett, an incredible singer whose debut solo CD “Renewed,” received a Grammy Nomination in 2009. Both artists have released amazing projects both together and separately. This week "Balance" is in The Top 10 on the Gospel Music Charts and has become a favorite in the Gospel Community. I wanted to know what was the inspiration for “Balance,” I could have asked him about the group but... it's really time to talk about TED WINN, the solo artist. In some ways, “Balance” speaks of his independence and his connection to GOD.


Ledisi: What inspired your New CD Balance?
Ted: Balance was inspired by my desire to see people live life in a healthy & happy state. Sometimes we are so consumed with the routine we become mono-dimensional in our focus and forget to engage life on EVERY level. I hope my music will be a vehicle to transport people to a more balanced place - to look at the glass half full and realize how incredibly valuable they are.

Ledisi: What's your favorite song on your new CD?
Ted: My favorite song on the CD is "God Believes In You" and that's largely because it's the first song I wrote for the project and served as a catalyst to help me feel comfortable doing a solo CD. It speaks to the fear of failure that paralysis each of us at some point. It dismisses the notion that you cannot be successful unless certain people support or validate you. It raises the GAZE of the listener to see over EVERY obstacle and focus on the fact that the GOD who gave you vision will ALWAYS give you provision - so we can be comforted in the fact that no matter who comes or goes, GOD believes in us and since he's on our side, failure is NOT an option.

Ledisi:How do you Keep Balance?
Ted:I keep balancing by being intentional. I spend time with my family and friends. I make it a point to do something, i.e. music, that I love. I also read, go to Broadway shows, museums and plan vacation/down time. Thinking about life from different people's perspectives also keeps me balanced. In my opinion, it allows me to appreciate life to the fullest!


http://www.myspace.com/teddwinn
http://www.facebook.com/teddysjamz
http://twitter.com/teddysjamz

Singer To Singer: Yazarah aka Purple St. James



To find a word to describe Yazarah aka Purple St. James, is a silly idea. She's a performer you must see live. She effortlessly makes people blush and has no shame while doing so. It is so exciting to witness this energy on and off the stage, still living and breathing in 2010. She's petite but struts a mean stiletto and possesses a voice filled with opera,rock,and soul.



Ledisi: So.. Ms. Purple St. James....Where are you originally from?
St. James: Washington, DC Proper Born and Raised :-) All day honey!!! And a proud graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Ledisi:What inspired you to be in this business?

St. James:It wasn't the business at all that inspired me to
live for music...
My story starts in the church at 7 years old,I was so short that the pastor had to hold me up so the congregation could see me when I sung. I had a very mature voice which made it so moving. But, they swore I was in the tot's choir until I was 10 years
old...lol But it was there, were I saw how music could change a heart.And I wanted to be part of what did that, changing a heart and mind for the better. I knew God had given me something special and I wanted to use it
to please him and help people....
When I was 10 I started singing outside of church and my first gig was the Kennedy Center in a youth talent search.
I ended up winning first place and I don't know if it was winning first place, the roar of the crowed or that life size
trophy. But, it was at that moment I knew I wanted to perform for the rest of my life....

Ledisi: You sang background for Ms. Badu, done recordings with Marcus Johnson and most recently formed a partnership and in a group with Grammy Nominated Foreign Exchange, how does it finally feel to complete "The Ballad of Purple St. James" and tell us about the process and the meaning behind the title.

St. James: Yes grace of God I've been a lot of places and seen a lot of things. (Give thanks)
But I feel that I have been really fortunate, to enter into friendship and partnership with Nicolay and Phonte' because out of every musical venture I have been a part of this is the one where I have had the most autonomy.
I've been writing songs with Phonte' now for almost 10yrs now and Nicolay has become a music brother as well...
They believe in my talent and the vision I have for my career.... Working with them brought back the joy I had previously lost for making music.I didn't have to write the perfect record for the music business working with them, I just had to write the best record for me. They really set out to help me produce my truth... And it's resonating with people.
Gotta admit it's excellent middle finger to the previous situation I was in where I was told that people didn't like my first record "Hear Me" and that my image (lack of racial ambiguity) was why I couldn't sell records....
God be thanked nether of those things are a problem now. Weren't then, and now I have proof that truth sales records... (Humbly sticks out tongue)

It was after my last deal that Ms. St. James was born....The very mention of my name caused me so much pain I went in to writers block and then depression. I had been forced to put out a record that had confused my fans I almost lost everything I cared about.... Including the joy of making music.

After a while I emotionally recovered and decided not to quit completely,folks like you Ledisi and Anthony Hamilton particularly made me jump back in the saddle again.Your encouragement and that of others was priceless.
But I still wasn't sold on making another record. I started writing songs in hopes of landing them on other artists, as well as singing hooks. And started writing under the name Purple St. James.The name triggered something in me, I was writing songs without boxes (meaning without worrying about what people thought) And eventually got the courage to start working on my own project and because "Purple" was the key to my brand new freedom I decided to dedicate this
album to her. Later I teamed up with Phonte and Nicolay to finish the remainder of the project and the rest is history.
I almost feel like I'm introducing myself for the first time.
Because this is the type project I've always wanted to do...


Ledisi: When people come to your live shows it's very erotic in a Grace Jones kinda way and your energy is electric.Lol!What do you hope people will take from seeing you live and experiencing your music in their ears?

St. James: Well....lol I really believe that my fans deserve my absolute best so I take what I do on albums and turn it up ten notches. I'm willing to work myself into an asthma attack to make sure leave full and satisfied.
I've always said my shows are half juke joint, half church service.

Ledisi: Yes, Half juke joint , half church service.(Laughing)

St. James: You'll leave my show energized,spiritually full and yes maybe even ready to make love...lol

Ledisi: (Laughing)What do you love most about being a woman and being a chocolate woman?

St. James: Hemmm...What I love about being a woman is the opportunity to be just as strong and fearless
as my male colleagues. But to quote "LL. Kool J" also "surrender act tender be gentle and kind".-Round the Way Girl
Now what I love about being a chocolate woman, is that now that I've grown a little.
I don't focus as much on others making it handicap. I am Ghanaian and in Africa we come in many shades shapes and sizes. Just like here in the states.But being an american born african I feel like the states is the most guilty of dividing up our beauty by shades...
So I guess aside from representing my more chocolaty sistah's (who don't get as much shine as I would like to see) I'm glad to just represent beautiful African women as a whole.That's the angle I want to focus on now, because there are already enough people trying to make Africans and the afro-american community divide itself by color cast....
And our little brown babies of all shades need desperately to see us shake this off so we can focus on the real issues.
Like economic diversity and equal education and strengthening the black family...

Ledisi: Wow.. great answer! What have you learned that you wish someone told you before becoming an artist?

St. James: It's okay to say no, and to let go of things that glitter but are not golden.Please me first than I can focus I the rest of the world around me.I've learned how to protect my peace and make it important to me tell my truth and not worrying so much about what the world thinks about it.
So glad I know that now...

Ledisi: Alright here comes a bunch of quick questions. What is your favorite word?

St. James Awww....I don't know if I should say....My favorite word is Shiiiiitttt! and when I say it I mean it.May I use it in a sentence....

Ledisi: This is your interview you say what you want!(laughing)

St. James: "Shit I wish they would"...lol or " I was laughing like shiiiiiiit!"
I know I'm wrong but it feels so right when I'm saying it, smh (hanging head in shame)

Ledisi: (Laughing) What is your favorite sound?

St. James:The Ocean at night.Brings me so much peace, I really get some of my greatest revelations at the beach or lakeside.
Could be because I'm a Cancer and we are most relaxed near the water...

Ledisi: What do you love?

St. James:God, Music, Family (In that order)

Ledisi: Who do you listen to the most?

St. James: My Heart (Trick Answer)...lol


IN STORES NOW!!!!!!
"THE BALLAD OF MS. PURPLE ST. JAMES"
FREE DOWNLOAD OF "THE BALLAD OF PURPLE ST. JAMES SAMPLER"
http://www.theforeignexchangemusic.com/2010/04/yahzarah---the-ballad-of-purple-saint-james-sampler-free-download.php
FOR A LIST OF STORES
http://www.theforeignexchangemusic.com/2010/05/where-to-buy-the-ballad-of-purple-saint-james.php
FOR DATES, MUSIC, OUTREACH
www.theforeignexchangemusic.com
www.whoisyahzarah.com
www.twitter.com/yahzarah
www.myspace.com/yahzarah

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Journey Overseas Days 1, 2 and 3


Day 1
It's been 6 years since I have been across the pond and the reception has been incredible. The first show in London at Bush Hall was sold out and the audience was louder, bigger than any performances I've had in London since my first performance in 2002 at the Jazz Cafe.It was so crowded in the building. My heart almost stopped when the words to my songs were sung back to me. So much love returned. The band squeeze on a stage the size of a bathroom (laughing) and played the funk outta Bush Hall. I wish I had my horn section with me but I was kinda glad they weren't there we had nowhere to put them.lol! The 4:30am lobby call to head to Paris was a downer. But no one complained and we made it to Paris with enough time to sleep before the show.

Day 2
After an afternoon of rest just one interview and to my surprise the writer had all 5 of my recordings. After the interview I signed all his CD's and headed to soundcheck. The stage was small and the band was exhausted and with only 30mins to get ready they came to the stage and performed like they had slept all day. The crowd was nice and intimate. They knew every lyric and danced to the music and screamed for more. As the night went on more and more people arrived.It was awesome for my first time in Paris. I love the energy of the band here.We all seem really close and connected more than usual. Everyone was having fun. The night ended with kissing cheeks, signing papers and photos and a wonderful late dinner. What a perfect ending watching the nightlife of Paris with dinner.It was a great night.

Day 3
11:30am in the limo to the train station. Beggars, homelessness and vendors towered over us like eagles hunting prey. lol! Our drivers spoke in French demanding that they leave us alone. I pulled out my camera and started to take photos once we arrived inside the station. People waiting, running and eating. Looking at the board to display their track number waiting for their train to arrive. Amsterdam finally came up and we scrambled the long walk to board our train. Now I am here writing to you as I look out my window at a blue sky, green grass and the country side with interruptions of a tunnel and a train stop every now and then. Soon I will finally make my destination to a place where I found my father's music, decided to make many changes in my life and was at one of my lowest and highest moments of my life. I also had my last performance across the pond 6 years ago in one of my favorite places Amsterdam.Another sold out show at The Paradiso.Very excited and extremely tired.So happy for a day off.

photo by BunnyBoots Photography

What a Night!I hope we can do that again!


I took this photo while everyone was still inside checking out Mint Condition. I had to leave after the third song. I had a show the next night. I never get a chance to see my name in lights and it was up there with one of my favorite bands. So... I jumped out of the car and took this photo. I pray this happens again!LOL!!

photo by BunnyBoots Photography

They Matter: UNCF Empower Me Tour My Visit in Florida







For the past year I have been apart of the Empower Me Tour Launched by The United Negro College Fund.Where professionals from all walks of life visit all the Historic Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) speak and give advice about how to be a successful entrepreneur. My recent visit to Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL enriched my life.I shared the panel with Ms. Sheryl Underwood, Ms.Tatyanna Ali and Mr. Warren Ballentine. There was so much passion in that room no one wanted to leave. We shared our life's journeys and our challenges, dreams and how we deal with our success. In return the students gave back with thought provoking questions about entrepreneurship and defeating fear. The hall reminded me of a church, so I had to grab my camera and take a photo. After every panel I always host a listening party for the students.All of them showed up at the listening party for Turn Me Loose and one of the students sang for me. She sang her face off ya hear me! We had a wonderful time and learned from one another. I wanted to share with you some of my photos I took from that day. Thank you UNCF and Wells Fargo for letting me be apart of this journey.I hope to be apart of this over and over again.


For more information about the Empwer Me Tour Visit
http://www.empowermetour.org.

Photo by BunnyBoots Photography

A Spring Day In Memphis

I was so grateful to have a show in Memphis this month.I opened for Robin Thicke and it was a fun sold out show. I have to be honest, the best part of my trip was being able to come in early and see what Memphis TN had to offer. I came in a day earlier and walked around downtown with one of my road managers Clyde and my personal stylist Justin Ellis( originally from Memphis) and we met so many wonderful people while walking around.
I never hang out in the city where I perform. Always work and no play. This time I was able to hang out and see the sights. I was surprised at how popular my music has become there. I heard whispers as I walked by and many screams with my name somewhere in there.I thought something had happen at first and Justin told me "honey we love you down here! we goes in over some Ledisi!" (I love his southerness!LOL!!!)I took photos and gave hugs all day. I sure did think I could be a tourist and hang out with no one knowing who I am.(Not!) Some people could not believe it was me. The funniest moment was this young lady passing us by with a weird look and we walked into a shoe store, 5mins later she came into the shoes store."ARE YOU?"We all laughed.I had to look some people in the eyes and say yes it's me because they could not believe I was walking around. I'm pretty low key when I hang out.No diva stuff. Only in high heels.(laughing) The only time things were calm, was our visit to the National Civil Rights Museum.

It was a beautiful day and spring had just arrived. Justin wanted to make sure we saw the National Civil Right Museum (The Lorraine Hotel),which is the place were Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. The walk through the museum was breath-taking. There was so much I didn't know. Part of me had to calm down because I was emotional and taken aback how there were many original pieces from that era.You can actually see Rosa Parks in her seat on the bus and sit next to her.You can see Dr. Kings bed where he slept and prayed. You can also see where he died and where his killer slept, bathe and murdered Dr. King. You were there. When I came out of there I had to get it together.It took a minute because all day I kept thinking about the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement.I also thought about Dr. King and how simple his message of "non-violence" created so much.It felt so good to re-visit the past. I can appreciate how things are now and that inspired me to want to do more for the future.Please when you go to Memphis visit the Museum and the lady outside who has been protesting against the Museum for over 20 something years.


On a much lighter note. There are so many wonderful restaurants in the downtown area.We loved the Flying Fish and for dessert we walked to The Cheesecake Corner. All I can say is save room for dessert.It was an absolute delight.I made sure to stop by the Grammy Building to say hi to the staff.What a gorgeous Spring day in Memphis! Friends, History, Food, Music and a Sold Out Show!I am so blessed!


photo by BunnyBoot Photography

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Video "Higher Than This" Coming Soon Here's a Sneak

Make-up Ronald Landers
Hair Michele London/ Hair Color Tika Ephiphany Hair Salon
Stylist Justin Ellis

Human Born To Make Mistakes

So... what do you think?Everyone has been in an uproar about John Mayer's comments he made in playboy magazine. What do you think?

Playboy Interview:

John Mayer's Apology on Twitter:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A STAND OUT MOMENT


I could not believe I was in a room filled with Legends. Lil 'ol me hugging Mr. Larry King, Mr. Dr. Phil, Ms. Denise Rich, Mrs. Angela Basset with her husband Mr. Courtney B. Vance and James Ingram and his beautiful wife Mrs. Denise Ingram.We were all there to celebrate Ms. Natalie Cole's 60th Birthday! This beautiful Woman asked two people to sing Happy Birthday. "Will you sing Happy Birthday to me?" Hmmm..are you kidding me?She's looking at me.( I thought to myself.lol!) The Legendary Smokey Robinson and lil 'ol Me.( I almost passed out and my knees would not stop shaking). Mr.Smokey sang first and I sang to her while standing right next to him. Amazing!!!

After blowing out the candles on her Tiffany multi-box layered shaped birthday cake, she adorned us with two songs. I was holding back my tears as she sang and looked absolutely gorgeous. Ms. Cole sang so sweet with her jazz trio.Simply amazing.My night ended with food and laughter with more new friends. This made my evening after the Grammy Awards my favorite stand out moment!

Photo by Duffy-Marie Arnoult/Getty Images North America

Ledisi at The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards

This time was a little different than 2007. I finally made myself enjoy as many moments that I could. Like any artist in the music business, I wanted to win. I did not win but I came out stronger and better than I was before. The 52 Annual Grammy Awards 2010 taught me so much about your profile as an artist. Now I am ready to work harder. Not just for that award but for the presence my talent deserves. My gift is God's Gift not mine and it deserves to be heard everywhere. Our gifts are bigger than us and once you know what your calling is you have to make it known and heard around the world.

Here are some of my favorite quotes by The Legend Ms. Bette Davis

"My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose."

"Today everyone is a star - they're all billed as 'starring' or 'also starring'. In my day, we earned that recognition."

"I will not retire while I've still got my legs and my make-up box." - Bette Davis


There is so much work that has been done yet so much more work to do. My dreaming is big!I want another moment like this and I want it to be bigger than this moment. I want to leave with even more next time. Something for my Mantel would be nice.LOL!
photo by Larry Busacca/ Getty Images North America

Inspiration comes soon: Sade

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Captured

My new Hobby has been painting and taking photos with my new camera. My first self portrait. YAY!

"Almost Time"
Photo by BunnyBoots Photography 2010
Backstage in Japan

Thursday, January 21, 2010

#1 R& B Album Critics Choice Japan

I have been to Japan 4 times. This is the first year where there were people standing outside of my hotel waiting for me to sign autographs and calling my room asking to speak to me. So different from my first performance in Fukuoka, Japan. No one could careless. As I reflect on many things, this taught me that if you keep working hard one day it will pay off. I had the best time in Japan. Patience is a virtue.