Lenny Kravitz broaches the subject of race relations on his new album Black & White America, and an in a new interview the bi-racial rock star reveals how he found inspiration from hardships faced in his own family.
Kravitz, who was born to a black mother (actress Roxie Roker) and white father and says he didn't recognize anything different or noteworthy about the pairing as a kid. Later, though, his parents told him stories about the iniquities they faced as an interracial couple in 1960's New York.
"They would walk down the street (and) people would spit on them," Kravitz told the Associated Press. "My father would take my mother to a hotel on holiday and they would say, 'No prostitutes allowed at the hotel' — very disgusting things. My father lost his side of the family `til I was born. It took them a minute to get it together. But in essence ... none of that bothered them. They were in love and they wanted to be together and that was that."
On Black & White America, Kravitz recruited a bi-racial star of a different generation, Drake, for a guest verse on the song "Sunflower."
"When I was doing 'Sunflower' and it got to the middle section, I knew that it wasn't going to be a guitar solo or something, so I just listened and I heard (Drake's) voice," Kravitz said. A similar process brought the "Fly Away" singer to reach out to the album's other high profile hip hop guest: Jay-Z.
"[It was the] same thing with Jay-Z on "Boongie Drop" — it's like I don't call somebody because I think, 'Oh that would be the move to make' It's because the music is telling me and I hear the tones."
Black & White America, which was released in September, debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200.
(Photo: Terrence Jennings/PictureGroup)