Can’t isn’t a word in Ledisi’s vocabulary.
Actually, it is, but only as a motivating tool.
When some folks suggested to her that she couldn’t write a book, she decided she would. A line in that book, “Better Than Alright: Finding Peace, Love & Power,” she says, has become a mantra for the singer-songwriter.
“Tell me I can’t so I can show you I can.”
The book, published by Essence Books, is a combination of narrative, poetry, lyrics, photos, memoir and self-help guide, which includes space for readers to jot down their thoughts.
“I love doing what I do and finding all these voices and developing,” the seven-time Grammy nominated artist told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
“I’ve always been a writer. I love journaling, taking photos,” she said, adding that part of the motivation for the book was so “when I have children they can see what I went through.”
A friend suggested to Ledisi that the thoughts in her journal would make a good book project.
“Next thing you know, I’m in a meeting about a book deal,” she says.
Essence Books, the publishing arm of Essence magazine, was a logical choice, Ledisi says, because Essence magazine celebrates women of color.
The book, which Ledisi wrote through the recording of four albums and keeping up a busy touring schedule, is a collage of her experiences, the singer says.
While an uplifting book, overall, Ledisi addresses being molested by her stepfather and some seriously lean years before her career took off, which led her at one point to consider walking away from the music business altogether.
Getting personal was an important part of the book project, Ledisi says, not just for her, but for her readers who may be undergoing some of the challenges she has faced.
“I have to be transparent. I couldn’t stop at one part,” she says. “Everything isn’t rosy. This might save somebody’s life. It could help them figure it out. I wish somebody told me.”
The most difficult chapter to write, she says, was the chapter on forgiveness, where she revealed she has forgiven her stepfather, but also discussed how she wrestled with his violation and abuse of her trust.
“It was also the most poetic because some things are two hard to read and digest” as a straight narrative, Ledisi says.
“Writing it out made me feel better. To actually see it in print out there in the world…can inspire someone or save someone.”
She says her mother, sisters, tour manager and close friends help her keep life’s challenges in perspective and “simplify my life.”
And she is bolstered professionally, she says, by her faith.
“You have to leap and trust and know that God will provide. It’s the same with living. You have to get through the old stuff to get to the new stuff.”
And Ledisi has a lot of new stuff on her plate.
Last week, she attended the public memorial service for the Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown and stirred the crowd of 14,000 with her rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
This week, her book tour starts with appearances in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Dallas.
After that, she’ll be back in rehearsals for her Be Good to Yourself Tour, a 27-city tour, which crisscrosses the U.S., beginning on June 24, in Philadelphia and ending Aug. 5 in Atlanta, with Eric Benet, who will open the show. Ledisi also will make stops at major festivals across the country including Hampton Jazz Festival on June 23, Essence Music Festival on July 7 and Cincinnati Jazz Festival on July 27. This will be Ledisi’s first time performing on the main stage at Essence Music Festival Tour schedule and ticket purchase info is available on her official website, www.ledisi.com, as well as TicketMaster.com.
For more information on the tour, book and upcoming Ledisi news, please visit www.ledisi.com, her official website. Ledisi can also be found at www.twitter.com/ledisi and www.facebook.com/ledisi, her official facebook page.
Although the singer has a busy schedule, she doesn’t mind it at all. “Work doesn’t feel like work,” Ledisi says. “It’s like air.”