Singers on Singing 2015

Feature2LEDISI

Contact: Tasha Stoute - Strong Arm Media, tasha@strongarmmedia.com

Ledisi Anibade Young started singing professionally at age eight, leading the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. Thirty-five years later, she has amassed nine Grammy nominations and won over countless fans, including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Last year, she released her sixth album, The Truth, and played Mahalia Jackson in Selma.

What makes you a better singer today than when you started?
I’m more in tune with my vocal abilities, my moods and what I want heard. I’m a storyteller, so I’m always making sure my story is heard more so than showing off technique. I didn’t understand that before, and now I do.

What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced as a singer?
Sleeping. [laughs] Getting rest.

Have you had any formal vocal coaching? What effect did it have?
Yes, I studied classical music. [It improved my] diction and breath control

How do you warm up your vocal cords before a performance?
I don’t. Most singers don’t warm-up. [laughs] I try and be silent before my shows. I talk a lot when I first wake-up, and then I drink a lot of hot water and citron tea.

What are your diet do’s and don’ts (alcohol, caffeine, weed, etc.)?
No milk or dairy. I love almond milk. I don’t eat before I sing. I have one early meal on show day. I can’t hit high notes on a full stomach.

How do you shake out any stage jitters, or cope with red light fever?
I’m nervous before every performance. It never ever goes away until that first note. After that I do whatever I want.

How do you calm yourself and focus? Do you meditate before a performance?
I breathe as much as I can, but I need silence, so I can visualize a successful show.

What are your favorite personal performances of yours, live and studio?
Singing for President Obama at a church service the morning before his Second Inauguration. It was never taped. It was a memory he and a few others shared. You had to be there. I loved recording my Christmas album (It’s Christmas). I had a week to record it. It brought me back to the old-fashioned way.

What are a few of your favorite all-time recordings or performances by other singers, and why?
Aretha Franklin live at the Fillmore, all things James Brown and Otis Redding live in London. I like the energy, the rawness of everything, the wonderful exchanges between artist, musicians and audience.

What are your most memorable stage mishaps? And how did you deal with them?
Falling offstage at the North Beach Jazz Festival in San Francisco. Luckily I landed on my feet and didn’t miss a note. I acted like it was a part of the show.

Are you loyal to specific types and brands of microphones and in-ear monitors? If so, which ones?
I love Sony 800g and Shure mics, but until I get an endorsement, I’m open to trying different microphones. I currently use Sensaphonics in-ears. I love them.

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