Ledisi Was 'Afraid of Headlining' Before 2011 Tour
As she comes to the end of her first headlining tour -- supporting her sixth album, "Pieces of Me" -- Ledisi reveals that she actually had to be talked into taking the plunge to top the bill.
"I've been waiting to do something like this for years...but, honestly, I was afraid of headlining," the New Orleans singer, born Ledisi Anibade Young, tells Billboard.com. "To headline, there's a pressure that comes with it. Expectations get higher and higher as the night goes on. You're worried if people are going to hear their favorite songs or not. I'm a people pleaser, which is horrible. I really want my fans to be pleased. But I'm actually enjoying this. There's a lot of work that comes with the show, before you go out and sing a song. But it's rewarding to do your own show, too, so I'm all the way in it. I'm glad I'm doing it."
With "Pieces of Me" debuting at No. 8 on the Billboard 200, her highest showing yet, Ledisi says that putting together her headlining show has given her insight into her 11-year body of work and how hard it really is to please the fans she's accumulated.
"I've learned that people have their particular version of Ledisi that they love," she explains. "I've grown in so many different directions, but I didn't do it on purpose. I just do music naturally, whatever is happening in that moment. I don't worry about genres or whatever. So I've learned people have their version of me that they like and they'd like me to stay there. But it doesn't work that way. So hopefully they've learned to go with the flow with me and are starting to accept and enjoy the spontaneity of what I do. I really don't know any other way."
Ledisi's current trek wraps up Nov. 22 in Columbus, Ohio. And while there will be more touring in support of "Pieces of Me," she's "already started thinking about the next album," although she doesn't expect to start focusing on it until March at the earliest. "I have so many ideas," Ledisi says. "I really want to work with Kamaal (aka Q-Tip) from A Tribe Called Quest. I'd love to work with different producers that don't expect me to work with. I'm always pushing the R&B envelope; I think people think soul music should be one way, and I don't agree with them. If you look at history, there's never been one way of soul music, ever."
Ledisi adds that "everyone asks me" about recording a gospel album, which she says is a possibility, but one she "won't be doing any time soon." "I take singing faith-based music really seriously," she explains. "I don't want to play with it. I have a great aunt who could've been the next Mahalia Jackson. And when I sing it, I get so overwhelmed with that feeling. So I don't like playing with that feeling. If I'm gonna do it, I'll do it for real and not just rush into it. I'll keep visiting (gospel), but give me some time before I dive full-on into it."