Ledisi is asking fans to follow her lead and Let Love Rule. That’s the title of the R&B singer/songwriter’s new studio album, due Sept. 22 from Verve Records.
Let Love Rule finds the nine-time Grammy nominee collaborating with such singer/songwriters and producers as John Legend, BJ the Chicago Kid, Kirk Franklin, Sebastian Kole (Alessia Cara), DJ Camper (Mary J. Blige), DJ Khalil (Eminem, Aloe Blacc) and Prince Charlez (Rihanna, Beyoncé). The result is an illuminating expansion of the soul-searching songs and powerful vocals that Ledisi shared on 2014’s The Truth.
Case in point is the set’s lead single “High.” Currently No. 14 on the Adult R&B Songs chart, the track was penned by Prince Charlez, Ledisi, and her longtime collaborator Rex Rideout and produced by DJ Camper. Its biographical tone — a la Ledisi’s 2012 Grammy-nominated song “Pieces of Me” — was inspired by the singer’s personal highs of the last year.
“I just felt high off of life,” recalls Ledisi, who ticks off such 2016 milestones as her first formal acting gig in the upcoming Gabourey Sidibe-directed indie film, Tale of Four, plus community service work with the Grammy Foundation and former First Lady Michele Obama’s Turnaround Arts Program. “Everybody has their version of what high is for them,” Ledisi continues. “Mine happens to be what you hear on this song.”
Both she and Rideout executive produced Let Love Rule, whose 15-track mix of songs and interludes traverses multiple eras from ‘70s soul to 21st century R&B and multiple themes about life, love and empowerment.
“This album was one of the hardest I’ve ever worked on,” says Ledisi of the project’s two-year recording process. “We were looking for songs that could stand the test of time. This wasn’t a quickie; it was about great songwriting. I’ve come back to what I love about R&B and also what I love about today’s music.”
Let Love Rule marks Ledisi’s ninth studio album. Her fifth, 2011’s Pieces of Me, netted the singer’s first top 10 debut on the Billboard 200 (No. 8) and second top 10 bow on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (No. 2). The set also reaped three of Ledisi’s nine total Grammy nominations: best R&B song and best R&B performance for the title track and best R&B album. Her ninth Grammy nomination for best R&B performance occurred in 2015 for the single “Like This” from The Truth. Ledisi’s most recent releases are The Intimate Truth, a live acoustic EP offshoot of the preceding album, and the Nostalgia Movement No. 1 EP, featuring covers of songs by Natalie Cole, Patrice Rushen and the Isley Brothers.
Ledisi, who portrayed singer Mahalia Jackson in the Academy Award-nominated film Selma, recently wrapped another personal high: a 21-city arena tour with Maxwell that included stops in New York, Nashville and San Diego. She is currently ramping up a series of appearances in support of Let Love Rule, including a rooftop showcase in New York City on Aug. 2.