Ledisi’s The Truth Tour – Tickets – Pier Six Pavilion – Baltimore, MD – May 4th, 2014

Ledisi's The Truth Tour

Essence presents

Ledisi's The Truth Tour

The Robert Glasper Experiment, Leela James


Doors: 5:00 pm / Show: 6:30 pm

Pier Six Pavilion

Baltimore, MD

$35.00 - $85.00

You can tell when a woman has finally come into her own. It’s in the swivel of her hips, the growl in her voice and the joy that brightens her face when she smiles. A woman filled with confidence is a force to be reckoned with. For singer songwriter Ledisi, that exuberance rings through on every track of her new album The Truth.

“I changed my life!” Ledisi says with a laugh. “With every album I grow, and with The Truth I am really starting to accept myself fully. I mean, I’ve always felt great about myself, but this time I’ve gone to a new level.”

The result is an album filled not only with Ledisi’s trademark soaring ballads but also something unexpected: a generous collection of up-tempo, beat-driven celebrations of love and lust. Ledisi describes the effort as “vibrant, sensual and fun. Of all of my recordings, this is definitely my favorite album ever.”

And that’s saying a lot. Over the past 13 years, New Orleans native Ledisi Anibade Young has recorded six albums, gained eight Grammy nominations including a nod for “Best New Artist” in 2008, performed six times at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama, and earned a place in the pantheon of the best soul singers of her generation. With The Truth, Ledisi, known for her rich and evocative ballads says it’s time for something new. “What you’re getting is a fiery version of Ledisi.”

What sparked her flame? Ledisi won’t name names, but she will say this: “I let go of toxic relationships and embarked on new healthy relationships. One in particular has me glowing!”

Her first single, I Blame You, is a joyful reflection on that new-found love. “This other person made me feel beautiful,” she says. “And that made me look at myself and see myself in a different light.” Her friend and collaborator, Claude Kelly (Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera) came up with title.

“I came into the studio and Claude asked me how I was feeling and I said, ‘I feel excited about myself,’” she recalls. “I told him someone was making me smile and he thought of the idea of blaming the other person for building me up. But of course, that only works if you are open to it.”

The transformative power of letting go of the old and embracing the new is celebrated in the album’s title track, The Truth, produced by D.J. Camper, (Chrisette Michelle, John Legend, Keyshia Cole).

“I wrote the song in a hotel room,” says Ledisi, singing one of her favorite lines. “Like a hurricane without warning I woke up Sunday morning, had to face the truth.”
“That song was the beginning of me letting go,” she continues. “I realized, it’s okay for you to leave something that’s not working. Of course, it’s scary to realize the truth and then go ahead and make a move. But that’s what you have to do. Basically it comes down to, are you going to stay here and be miserable or are you going to leap and go for what you want?”

Going for what you want is a theme Ledisi continues to explore in, That Good Good, which she co-wrote with Angelica Lea, Jon Jon Trax and Claude Kelly, with whom she collaborated on the 2011 hit Pieces of Me. The song, a playful, up-tempo, nod to female sexual assertiveness is a syncopated pro-woman anthem to put all others to shame. “I heard the song and I went bananas,” says Ledisi. “I love songs that tell women it’s okay to ask their partners for what they want. You know, like ‘Can you do this? If you can’t then get out of the way!’ It took me a while to be that forward. So when I heard it in a song, I was like ‘Oh, this is me now! I love it!’”

“That Good Good doesn’t have to be sexual,” she continues. “It can be about asking for the best kind of loving and promising you are going to give it back.”

If The Good Good is about asking for what you want, Lose Control is the declaration of a woman who got just what she needed: some late-night down and dirty. It’s music to listen to when words alone can’t express your desire. “Laced red high heel shoes, left behind some clues,” Ledisi sings. “Follow the roses, let me reward you for loving me like you’re supposed to.”

Ledisi says while creating Lose Control, which she co-wrote with long-time producer Rex Rideout (Luther Vandross, Angie Stone, Will Downing), she drew on the experiences of people around her. “I asked Rex, how does it feel to feel to be married?” she recalls. “And I asked another producer, how does it feel to be single? And I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if people started getting excited about getting intimate? We don’t have enough songs like that, songs that describe romance. Wouldn’t it be good to describe what we are going to do in a classy intimate and aggressive way? Why can’t women lead?”

Ledisi explains that her new music is a reflection of her journey of self-discovery. “There was a time when I felt like I had to please everybody,” she says. “Now I’m like ‘I don’t care anymore,’ I just want to be fully out there and be the person I really am, which is someone who loves being open and fun.”

But all this self love didn’t enter Ledisi’s life without her shedding some baggage. In 88 Boxes, Ledisi tells an intimate tale of a failed relationship. “If you would have said ‘I loved you,’ I would have turned around and stayed. But you said nothing. Did you really love me?” Ledisi sings on the hauntingly beautiful track that is as mournful as it is memorable.

“88 Boxes is about me letting go,” she explains. “I was moving out and had to count how many boxes I had for the moving truck. For women, it’s hard for us to leave things and people that we love. We stay in situations almost like martyrs to ourselves. At the same time I was leaving, I am recognizing that the other person didn’t want me to leave but didn’t know how to say the words, ‘Don’t go.’ In 88 Boxes, I am being somewhat sympathetic to that...but I am also focusing on the reality of what is...the end of a love affair."

The track, which Ledisi had originally penned as a poem, was recorded in a single take. “I laid it down in the dark,” she remembers. “Everyone had been telling me how I should record the song, but my vocal producer, Roland Jack, who is like a brother to me, said, “Led I want you to do what you wrote. Forget all these people. Get your butt in that booth and sing the truth. When I came out the room everybody had their mouths open like, “Oh my God!” It was one of the hardest songs to record and it’s honest.”

Ledisi’s courage to be so vulnerable isn’t the only positive byproduct of her transformation. “Over the past few years, I’ve really had to ask myself, ‘Who are you and what do you want to be,’” she reflects. “I did some mediation and I started working out hard. Not like how I used to where I would do a couple of crunches and then drink a soda! Now I’m really challenging myself. And I love this girl! She’s free and uninhibited and having fun with life. I’ve learned that when you really love who you are, it radiates! It all starts from the within. It all starts from accepting The Truth.”

Ledisi’s thrill of self-discovery is now available for all of us to enjoy, on The Truth.
The Robert Glasper Experiment
Breakthrough success can often be a tough act to follow. But with a little help from some notable friends, Robert Glasper Experiment is set to up the ante with the follow-up to his successful GRAMMY-winning album Black Radio. Flaunting a diverse array of featured guests including Common, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Brandy, Jill Scott, Dwele, Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco, Luke James, Emeli Sandé, Lalah Hathaway, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Black Radio 2 is certain to surprise and delight critics and fans alike. With a unique fusion of R&B, jazz, and hip-hop that brazenly traverses the boundaries of all three genres, Black Radio 2 finds Glasper and his musical cohorts creating in a vibrant new chasm, brilliantly contrasting its predecessor in the process.

"This record was a little different," explains the Houston, Texas native. "I didn't want to make the same record twice. I wanted to make a conscious effort to keep the vibe and the spirit of the first one without it sounding the same." Considering his own rich musical journey, this sonic shifting approach to Black Radio 2 seems to be a long time coming. Reared in a household where Motown, R&B, and gospel were constant companions, his mother sang and played piano in church while indulging in her love for jazz and blues by performing at local clubs. By the age of twelve, he'd begun to fully follow his mother's lead by playing piano in church and accompanying her on club dates on the Houston circuit.

Glasper went on to sharpen his prodigal chops at the Houston High School for the Performing Arts and New School University, allowing his developing affinity for pop, hip-hop, and rock to inform his musical sensibilities. By 2003, Glasper had already racked up spots in the bands of prominent jazz artists such as Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, and Roy Hargrove. In addition, his deep appreciation of hip-hop and R&B allowed him to form lateral bonds in those respective worlds. Guided by his mother's example, Glasper simultaneously performed jazz while taking gigs as a touring musician and musical director for artists such as Maxwell, yasiin bey, Q-Tip, and Bilal.

With an impressive wealth of experience and talent, it was only a matter of time before he'd become an artist in his own right. That same year, he released his debut album Mood on Fresh Sound Records. Blue Note signed Glasper soon after and released his label debut Canvas (2005), followed by In My Element (2007) and Double-Booked (2009) – his first GRAMMY-nominated effort which juxtaposed his acoustic Trio with the electric Experiment band. While those albums were primarily rooted in jazz, he made certain to sprinkle his other musical influences into the stew. But in 2012, he decided it was time to serve the full main course. Glasper's Black Radio was released that year to a maelstrom of critical acclaim. Featuring the likes of Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Meshell Ndegeocello, and yasiin bey, the album was cultivated via a series of jam sessions with artists from varying genres whom Glasper formed alliances with during his time in the music industry. "Everybody just came to the studio and we did stuff on the spot," he says. "That was the vibe. I wasn't thinking R&B."
Black Radio was heralded by media outlets such as Rolling Stone, who wrote "Glasper heads down the fraught path of hip-hop jazz and gets it right," adding "with music this smart and inviting, the implied diss of mainstream doesn't feel like sour grapes; it feels like a blueprint forward." The lead single "Ah Yeah" with Chrisette Michele and Musiq Soulchild landed on radio playlists nationwide, and TV appearances on Late Show With David Letterman, Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon followed. But when Black Radio took home the award for Best R&B Album at the 2013 GRAMMY Awards, there was no doubt that all eyes were on Glasper and his band of musical brothers.

In the wake of the GRAMMY win, offers to collaborate were abundant and bountiful. This withstanding, Glasper chose to curate his next aural exhibit more keenly to achieve a specifically desired effect. "Black Radio got so much love from the R&B world, so I made a conscious decision to concentrate a bit more on songs for this record," he says of the anomalous coup. With that, Glasper set out to focus on R&B song structure that complimented his jazz pianist chops as well as that of the rest of Robert Glasper Experiment – Casey Benjamin (saxophone/vocoder), Derrick Hodge (bass), and Mark Colenburg (drums).

With this concept firmly in hand, Glasper reached out to noted R&B songwriters to collaborate with. Soon afterwards, he ensconced himself in the legendary Los Angeles recording studio Westlake Studios with the members of the Experiment and a handful of guest vocalists to craft material for the new album. The glowing results from this session and subsequent sessions in Los Angeles and New York City are evidenced throughout the 12 dynamic tracks on Black Radio 2.

Featuring the scintillating vocals of multi-platinum superstar Brandy, GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Claude Kelly (Bruno Mars, R Kelly, Michael Jackson) paints a melodic portrait of a languishing love affair on the head nodding cut "What Are We Doing." GRAMMY-winning Roc Nation songwriter Andrea Martin (Melanie Fiona, Angie Stone, Monica) contributes a tale of longing on the intensely passionate "Yet To Find" as lauded recording artist Anthony Hamilton infuses the track with his patented brand of grit n' soul. Conversely, Detroit recording artist Dwele brims with the confidence and assurance of a love supreme on the Rhodes embroidered "Worries," penned by Young Money recording artist and GRAMMY-winning songwriter PJ Morton (India.Arie, Maroon 5, Stevie Wonder).

Yet even with the proven songwriting talent of his aforementioned company, Glasper exhibits the wisdom to allow some of his featured guests the freedom to flex their skill behind the mic as well as with the pen. The results are brilliantly exemplified in the album's soaring opening track "I Stand Alone" that was crafted with collaborators Common and Patrick Stump, and the lead single, "Calls" featuring Jill Scott, where Scott weaves a story of a metaphysical romantic connection partly quantified in answered phone calls over a lush bed of Glasper's dreamy piano chords. The mesmerizing mid tempo track "Trust" follows suite featuring the crystalline vocals of singer/ songwriter Marsha Ambrosius, who is a noted songwriter in her own right having penned the Michael Jackson hit "Butterflies." Black Radio 2 also features pensive spoken word interludes interspersed amongst the musical mélange by esteemed African American academic/ author Michael Eric Dyson and gospel singer/ preacher John P. Kee.

Poet/actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner made a spontaneous and meaningful contribution to the album when he dropped by the studio and ended up penning and recording a thought-provoking slice of spoken word poetry on the profoundly poignant and symbolic rendition of the Stevie Wonder gem "Jesus Children Of America," featuring the vocals of Black Radio alumnus Lalah Hathaway. The song is fashioned as a tribute to the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy and has a deeply personal meaning for Glasper. "The very first time I performed that song live was during a Stevie Wonder tribute on the day the Sandy Hook tragedy took place," he recalls. "I'd also found out that a close friend lost his daughter in the tragedy. So when we did the Stevie song, I almost lost it. It hit close to home, because I have a four-year-old son."

Amidst the immense star power, Black Radio 2 also manages to shine a light on buzz worthy newcomers like BRIT Award winning U.K. artist Emeli Sandé ("Somebody Else") and Island Def Jam recording artist Luke James ("Persevere" featuring Snoop Dogg and Lupe Fiasco). In addition to the original 12 tracks, the deluxe edition of Black Radio 2 includes four bonus tracks: "I Don't Even Care" featuring Jean Grae and Macy Gray, "Big Girl Body" featuring Eric Roberson, "My Everything" featuring Bilal and Jazmine Sullivan, and an instrumental cover of the classic Bill Withers tune "Lovely Day" featuring a spoken intro from Mr. Withers himself who made a surprise visit to the studio in Los Angeles.

Black Radio 2 further exemplifies Glasper's remarkable skill as a producer and musician adept at extracting a truly extraordinary side of his guests' acclaimed talents, irrespective of differences in genre. It is also a magnificent display of an undaunted jazz composer intent on allowing the full range of his musical influences ebb and flow through his output in an astonishing fashion. Black Radio 2 serves as a conceptually illustrious reminder of the multitude of possibilities for musical collaboration and blurring the lines. But for Glasper, this is merely second nature.

"Jazz musicians are becoming more comfortable with music that speaks to them personally," he muses. "I think it's very important that musicians feed off the fruit of the music that actually is the soundtrack of their lives. The only way to keep something relevant is to renew it from history and let it grow and change. When that happens, you start getting stuff like Black Radio 2. Black music is the house that has many rooms. Black people have invented so many dope genres that everyone loves: Jazz, blues, gospel, R&B, rock, hip-hop, and the list goes on. I'm just visiting all those rooms. It's my mansion; it's our mansion. I don't have to exclude anything. With that said, who knows where I'll go next."
Leela James
Leela James
Leela James speaks the truth. Never mind hype or spectacle. The acclaimed recording artist appreciates the eternal qualities of an undeniable star — raw talent, musical substance and an authentic voice that's timeless. All of which are embodied on Leela James' upcoming fourth studio album "Fall For You" and the title track single bearing the same name.

Ms. James first burst onto the scene with her 2006 debut album A Change is Gonna Come, introducing audiences to her considerable vocal chops and garnering nominations for Outstanding New Artist at the NAACP Image Awards and Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist of 2008 at the Soul Train Music Awards. James has gone on to record three subsequent albums including My Soul, which reached #7 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Albums Chart and #37 on the Billboard 200 chart, and earned acclaim from critics for her songwriting skills.

What sets Ms. James apart is her fearless approach to making music. She travels the gamut of emotions from self-doubt to self-confidence, and reminds her audience of what it is to be human – to love, to regret and to dream. "The best artists stay true to who they are, no matter the scale," says James. "I think you can be relevant and still have substance, so I try to never stay in a box. My sound today may be different than where I was five years ago, but my core is always the same. My soul is intact."

For Leela, it's always been about the soul. So much so that she was nicknamed Baby Etta as a little girl growing up in Los Angeles. Along with Chaka Khan and Al Green, she counts Etta James among her vocal heroes and paid homage in 2012 by recording her album Loving You More…In the Spirit of Etta James. Leela's influences run the gamut of vocalists from soul to funk, and jazz, and her interpretation of music touches on synesthetic. "It's the feel of the colors in an artist's voicing and their power. Some artists make the hairs rise on my arm when they hit a certain note. Anybody can hold a tune, but make me feel it. Now that's a sanger. "

James has that kind of a voice — that of a sanger. Her power is obvious when she takes on the soul classics, and what truly resonates is her ability to harness it in the context of her own writing style. "I freestyle in the moment," she says. "I vibe with the music and whatever comes out, that's what it's going to be. I tend to fool around with melodies I'm hearing, and then I go back and fill in lyrics. If the music is making me feel good, that's all I need."

This newfound ease is apparent on her most recent work with tracks like "Say That" and "Fall For You." A magical studio session with her contemporary Hamilton produced the infectious up-tempo single "Say That," which captures James' gutsy range and vocal abilities. The writing process was effortless when working with J Rilla (Jill Scott, Musiq

Soulchild) on "Fall For You." Leela explains, "We knew we wanted to do something special. What it was, I wasn't sure. He sat down at the piano and he said, 'just sing.' It was amazing how it came about. He's playing chords, and me, I'm just opening up my mouth. It was so special." The result is a tender, introspective, and poignant ballad that demonstrates James' maturity, vulnerability and vocal command.

James expanded her musical horizons by procuring a talented cast of collaborators to capture her vision on her new project, including producers Tim and Bob, Shannon Sanders, and Joe Ryan III and writers Rex Rideout (Ledisi, Kem, Luther Vandross) and Francii Richards (Fergie) "I'm drawn to producers that are musicians first and foremost, producers who know how to produce vocals and who want to see a song from beginning to end. I'm drawn to artists who share a love for music."

James is on a slow, steady burn towards musical success. As an artist who is devoted to her craft, she's taken the past several years to cultivate her home life too. "I've become a mommy. I love being a mother. You think you know love, but you don't understand true love until you have a child. I'm in a happy place personally." On her new album she channels that happiness and new sense of self, giving her audience the sound of an artist who is in a truly good, profound space.
Venue Information:
Pier Six Pavilion
731 Eastern Avenue
Baltimore, MD, 21202