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San Francisco - Greetings From The San Francisco Chapter Board: Ledisi
Ledisi - Singer/Songwriter
San Francisco Governor
How/When did you get your start?
I got my start in the Bay Area forming my own band and singing at local nightclubs. I was also a part time singing waitress, a cashier at a record store and working as an actress performing in cabaret theatre. I released an independent project with a friend and instead of waiting on labels we started our own label and put out my first recording, “SoulSinger.”
What was the most interesting experience you’ve had while working?
The most interesting experience has been watching my fan base grow. I have enjoyed this climb and my fan base has only gotten better.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve worked with and why?
I would have to say singing for Prince. I learned so much from him about presence and work ethic. That experience will live with me forever.
Who is someone you would like to work with and why?
Qtip and Stevie Wonder. They are both innovators and their contribution to music still inspires me today. Just timeless. I want to be apart of whatever they are working on.
How does a band or artist become a brand?
Branding is easier when it is really who you are, your true authentic self. In the early part of my career I had problems with my branding. I did not know who I was as a person. I was creating music with others in my mind. Now I create whatever I want. Also having a great stylist and a adventurous hairstylist helped me out a lot. (laughing) Honestly, all of these things came naturally and I made sure I was myself during the entire process of becoming who I am today. Your image is the visual side of your music. Make sure it’s really who you are and as you grow people will grow with you. They may not like everything you do. But they will always support what is authentic.
What is your favorite piece of equipment and why?
There are too many things to love. I love my Spark mic, my Macbook Pro and my apage. I need all of these things to record my ideas while I’m out on the road.
Where/how do you hear about new music?
I ask my fans. I check out iTunes, blogs and DJ friends. It’s great.
What’s the best part about the San Francisco music scene?
There are still places for live musicians to play and I love the support of the community in Bay Area. There’s such a great variety outlet of music in the Bay Area.
What artist or band should people know right now?
What book would you recommend as a must read for someone?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
What 5 albums would you say are a must listen too for everyone?
Only 5...let me think. Anything by the Beatles, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Herbie Hancock’s Thrust, Stevie Wonder’s Song in The Key of Life and Miles Davis Kinda Blue is a must have in your collection.
What’s a piece of advice you’ve learned that you wish someone had shared with you?
Remember it’s not how fast you get there it’s the journey that has the greatest rewards.
Growing up, which artists inspired you the most?
My mom, watching her perform or move in life made me want to be like her. As an artist, I am so very much like my mom.
What advice would you give to a young artist just starting out in the music business?
Know that this is business. My mom taught me this early, this is business. That is why I do not have too many horror stories being in the music business. Like any business in this world, people are looking at you as a product to create revenue for their business. See yourself as a business person as well as a creative being.
How are emerging technologies changing the music industry in general and specifically your field?
Too much to type. There are good things about it but there some things about it I don’t like. I miss the element of surprise. It’s gone.
What Social Networking sites do you use the most?
I’m on Twitter and Facebook. They can just type in my name Ledisi or go to Ledisi.com.
What are your favorite performance venues in San Francisco?
The Great American Music Hall, The Fillmore and Cafe Du Nord.
What are your “secrets to success?”
I’m always fearless yet always afraid. I’m always leaping out on Faith. It’s a scary thing to move into the unknown. But when I have done it, I have found my greatest self over and over again. I am also a real person on and off stage. I stay around people that keep me humble. I don’t let success go to my head they make sure it doesn’t. (laughing) I put life in my music and therefore people can relate. I believe nothing is impossible for me. Everyone should think that way.
Do you believe mentorship is important? Who were your mentors early on in your career and what impact did they have on your experience in the business?
Mentorship is so important to me. Giving back adds more value to my life especially in a spiritual way. It should be a requirement for living on this earth as far as I’m concern. I would not be here without someone lifting me. Someone else believed in me enough to take time out of their life to help me. That simple act gave me my purpose and it inspired that little girl in me to never give up. I remember looking up to Janice Maxie-Reed my vocal coach from Oakland California. She was the first one to help me get into a program that I loved called Young Musicians Program at U.C. Berkeley. There I learned classical, classical piano, jazz and gospel. I also watched Carmen my first opera and fell in love even more with Classical music. I remember Rachelle Ferrell asking me to open for her in LA and playing my music in DC telling the world about me. That blew my mind. The First Lady asking me to be apart of her mentoring program and speaking to young students about my life. I could not believe my story inspired her and she wanted me to share my story with others. My mother, being my first mentor, always playing music and having instruments around the house, inspired me to study classical and hear music in a different way. Mentoring is the best gift anyone can give.
Who are your favorite new artists right now?
Beyoncé, Amy Winehouse, Gretchen Parlato and the incredible ADELE!