R&B singer Ledisi is no stranger to the Grammys scene. In fact, the artist has garnered a remarkable 12 nominations throughout her career. Even so, her the anticipation for the 60th annual awards ceremony is just as fresh as it was the first time she was nominated for Best New Artist back in 2008.
This year is special, however. It’s the most nominations that she’s gotten in one year and for work that showcases her ability to mix traditional R&B sounds with the genre’s new direction. She was nominated for Best R&B Album for Let Love Rule, Best Traditional R&B Performance for “All the Way” and Best R&B Performance for “High.”
Unfortunately, the singer left empty-handed. She lost to Bruno Mars (“That’s What I Like” for Best R&B Performance) and Childish Gambino (“Redbone” for Best Traditional R&B Performance), but both artists were among her list of favorites. “[I’m rooting for] Bruno Mars! He sits in the middle – he honors the old school as well as the new. He’s inventive and fun,” she said ahead of the awards show. "I have to admit, I love Childish Gambino."
The Grammys may be over and done, but Ledisi chopped it up with BET at the Toyota Music dinner and showcase – an exquisite pre-Grammy dinner party and live performance, where she spoke about what it means to nominated this year and the interesting trajectory of today’s R&B.
BET: Where were and how did you find out about your Grammys nominations this year?
Ledisi: I was asleep. It was eight in the morning and my publicist called. She called me and woke me up. She was like, "I know I could’ve texted this, but girl, you got nominated for three Grammys." Just started screaming. I was just like, whoa! This is awesome, but I want to go back to sleep. But it was amazing to hear about it.
How does it feel to be back again? This isn’t your first go around.
No! Twelve nominations later and I feel like I’m sustaining. I feel like my peers love my work. Every album I’ve done has been nominated for something. So that in itself is huge. That doesn’t happen for everybody. I’ve recorded nine albums total and I’m still here and nominated. And this is the most – three nominations is like whoa! I’m blown away. I haven’t looked at it yet until I get there, because I’ve just been doing my work. This week is blowing my mind. It’s been surreal.
How do you feel about the current state of R&B?
I don’t know because I've always been the one in the middle, being a little bit of old school, a little bit of new school. I’ve lived in this world forever. I’ve been waiting on the rest of the world to catch up. So here I am, nominated for “All the Way,” which is very Luther Vandross, very traditional R&B, which is the category I’m up for. And then I’m nominated for “High,” which is a trap beat under my R&B vocals, which is more now. So here I am mixing it up. I think it’s great that we can give something to the old school and the new school. A lot of artists completely leave their old school and go straight to the new. I’ve always stayed in the middle of keeping with the youth. I love the combination, that the kids are getting it and that I’m a part of it. I’m just trying to make sure I honor my ancestors as well as what’s going on right now. I love the music that’s happening right now.
Who else are you rooting for at the Grammys besides yourself?
Of course Bruno Mars! He sits in the middle; he honors the old school as well as the new. He’s inventive and fun. I have to admit, I love Childish Gambino, but I don’t want him to win. I want to win.
(Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NARAS)