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Ledisi Young (her given name meaning "to bring forth" in Nigerian) was born in the Big Easy, where she sang with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra when she was eight years old and spent many adolescent hours watching her mother perform with a local R&B band, often in a nearby park. After the family relocated to Oakland, California, Ledisi followed her mother's lead and sang in a local band, but left to form her own identity and her own group. She became widely noted for her performances in Beach Blanket Babylon, a long-running San Francisco-based cabaret featuring song parodies, celebrity impersonations, and enormous hats; she got the gig after being nominated for a Shellie Award in 1990 for her role as Dorothy in a local version of The Wiz.
She later formed Anibade (Ledisi's middle name), which, depending on what you read, means "to bring forth luck" or "my mother is great" in Yorubu. The band featured Sundra Manning (keyboards and chief songwriter), Cedricke Dennis (guitar), Nelson Braxton (bass), Wayne Braxton (saxophone), and Tommy Bradford (drums); while the lineup was similar to Chaka Khan & Rufus, the sound -- on record anyway -- was mellower than Rufus' energized, excellently engineered sounds, sometimes fusing R&B, hip-hop, urban, jazz, and funk in the same pot. Ledisi and her band built a hot reputation in the Bay Area at local clubs such as Bruno's, The Black Cat, and Rasselas. Fans kept asking about a record, so the band cut a demo, "Take Time," that radio station KMEL aired and received a good response; this prompted Ledisi to seek a deal with major recording companies, all of which praised and turned her down in the same breath. Frustrated but not thwarted, Ledisi cut the critically acclaimed Soulsinger and released it on LeSun Records (owned by Ledisi and Manning) on January 1, 2000. "Papa Loved to Love Me" -- a personal account of a father sexually abusing his daughter -- is one of the CD's most riveting and controversial tracks.
The CD did well without the benefit a major distributor: LeSun's successful grassroots promotion/publicity campaign went beyond the typical artist/company web page, saturating the Internet with information, accompanied by a full gigging plate during which Ledisi and company promoted and sold their CD, T-shirts, and other items. Amazon ranked Soulsinger number five in Los Angeles (September 2001), and it became popular in Finland, Norway, London, and Amsterdam as well. Ledisi recorded a jazz album with bassist Marcus Shelby for Noir Records -- Shelby's independent based company in San Francisco -- that further illustrated her skills. Her third studio album, Lost & Found, was released in 2007. Two of its singles -- "Alright" and "In the Morning" -- peaked within the Top 50 of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and a pair of Grammy nominations followed.
Released in 2008, It's Christmas featured updates of "Give Love on Christmas Day" and "What a Wonderful World." The appropriately titled Turn Me Loose, her hardest-hitting release, came the next year and featured collaborations with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, as well as Raphael Saadiq. Her most popular disc, it topped Billboard's R&B Albums chart, crossed into the Top 20 of the Billboard 200, and resulted in another pair of Grammy nominations. Pieces of Me, an album that involved the likes of Rex Rideout, Mike City, and Chuck Harmony -- as well as Jaheim on a duet -- followed in 2011. It came within one spot of topping the R&B chart and debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200. The Truth, featuring a surprising amount of uptempo material without any pop concessions, was released in 2014.
Ledisi Anibade Young (/ˈɛɨiː/; born March 28, 1972) is an American R&B and jazz recording artist, songwriter and actress. Her first name means "to bring forth" or "to come here" in Yoruba. Ledisi is known for her jazz influenced vocals. In 1995, Ledisi formed the group known as Anibade. After unsuccessfully trying to get the group signed to a major label, she formed LeSun Records with Sundra Manning. Along with her group, Anibade, Ledisi released an album titled Take Time. The album gained major airplay from local radio stations. She is a nine-time Grammy Award nominee.
In 2000, Ledisi released her first album, titled Soulsinger: The Revival. Ledisi and her group toured in 2001, performing various shows. In 2002, Ledisi released her second album, Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue. The album won her an award for "Outstanding Jazz Album" at the California Music Awards.
In 2007, Ledisi signed a major record deal with Verve Forecast and released her third album in August of that year, titled Lost & Found, which sold almost 217,000 copies and earned her two Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist. In 2008, Ledisi released her Christmas album, It's Christmas.
In 2009, Ledisi released her fourth album Turn Me Loose, which earned her two Grammy nominations, followed by her fifth album Pieces of Me (2011) which debuted in the top ten of the US Billboard 200 album chart at number eight, becoming her first top-ten album of her career and her highest-charting album to date. It also garnered three Grammy nominations at the 54th Grammy Awards including for Best R&B Album. In 2013, she received a nomination for Best R&B Performance at the 55th Grammy Awards for her collaboration with fellow R&B and jazz musician Robert Glasper for the album cut "Gonna Be Alright" off of his Grammy Award-winning fifth album Black Radio (2012). In 2014, she released her sixth album The Truth to critical acclaim and moderate sales. She portrayed legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson in the Martin Luther King, Jr. 2014 biopic, Selma."The Evolution Of Ledisi". bet.com. Black Entertainment Television. Retrieved January 2, 2015. Ledisi at Allmusic.com [pulsemusic.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=gmn&action=display&thread=80953&page=2. Billboard 200: 1/24/09: Taylor Swift #1 72k]. Pulse Music Proboards. Retrieved: June 18, 2009 
Ledisi was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She grew up in a musical family; her mother, Nyra Dynese, sang in a Louisiana R&B band and her stepfather, Joseph Pierce III, (deceased) was a drummer in the New Orleans area. Her biological father is soul singer Larry Sanders, the son of blues singer Johnny Ace. He left the family when she was a baby and they did not meet again for nearly three decades.
Ledisi first began performing publicly at age eight with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. Ledisi moved to Oakland, California, where she attended McChesney Junior High School, now Edna Brewer Middle School, where she was shy about her singing abilities. She would sing only upon request when students in her gym class would implore her to sing Deniece Williams' version of Black Butterfly, bringing the entire locker room audience under the spell of her very mature, melodious voice. As she sang more publicly her music career blossomed. She was nominated for a Shellie award in 1990 for her performance in a production of The Wiz and performed in an extended run with the San Francisco cabaret troupe, Beach Blanket Babylon. She studied opera and piano for five years at University of California Berkeley in their Young Musicians Program."The Truth According to Ledisi". Grammy Awards. April 11, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2015. "Singer-songwriter Ledisi". PBS. March 26, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2015. Gardner, Elysa (January 22, 2008). "On the verge: Jazzy vocalist Ledisi just might be best new artist". USA Today. Retrieved February 7, 2015. http://www.bvnewswire.com/2009/06/19/ledisi-free-after-finding-father-and-forgiving-him/ Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
ContentsMusical career1.1 1995–1999: Beginnings1.2 2000–2003: Soulsinger: The Revival and Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue1.3 2006–2008: Lost & Found1.4 2009–2010: Turn Me Loose1.5 2011–2012: Pieces of Me1.6 2014–present: The Truth
In the 1990s, Ledisi formed a group called Anibade, alongside Sundra Manning (producer, keyboards, songwriting), Phoenix (LaGerald) Normand (background vocals, songwriting), Cedrickke Dennis (guitar), Nelson Braxton (bass), Wayne Braxton (sax), and Rob Rhodes (drums), playing a jazz and hip-hop influenced kind of soul. The group won acclaim in the Bay Area with a cult-like following of die-hard fans who referred to themselves as "Ledites" and meet her with love at every event, singing along verbatim to songs that though unrecorded at the time, were well known by their fans. The group later recorded a demo of one of the songs from their set, entitled, "Take Time" which was played on local stations and requested non-stop. Ledisi tried to get the group signed to a major label, but had no luck.
2000–2003: Soulsinger: The Revival and Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue
In January 2000, Ledisi released her first album, Soulsinger: The Revival, independently on her label, LeSun Records. The album spun off four singles, "Soulsinger", "Take Time", "Get Outta My Kitchen", and "Good Lovin'". After the release of Soulsinger: The Revival, Ledisi toured with her group Anibade.
In 2002, Ledisi released her second album, Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue, which was also released independently. The album featured the singles "Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue" and "Autumn Leaves". During this time she also recorded commercials for the Sci Fi Channel. In 2003, Ledisi won "Outstanding Jazz Album" for Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue at the California Music Awards.
2006–2008: Lost & Found
During her five year hiatus, Ledisi made appearances on soundtracks. In 2007, she signed with Verve and released "Blues in the Night" which featured on the tribute album, We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song.
In August 2007, Ledisi's third album, Lost & Found, was released. During her hiatus, Ledisi stated that she was unsure of wanting to stay in the music industry. In response, Ledisi wrote the song "Alright" to express her life. "Alright" became the lead single and debuted at #45 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart. The album's second single, "In The Morning", debuted at #49 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart. Other songs from the album charted but were not released as singles. "Think of You" charted at #71 on the Hot R&B charts, "Joy" charted at #103 on the Hot R&B charts and #29 on the Adult R&B Airplay.
In December 2007, the album earned her two Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist. In 2008, Ledisi continued her tour to promote the album, Lost & Found. By January 2009, the album had sold 216,894 copies.
In September 2008, Ledisi released her Christmas album, It's Christmas, which featured the singles "This Christmas" and "Children Go Where I Send Thee". In December 2008, Ledisi's T.V. special aired on Gospel Channel, titled "Ledisi Christmas". Ledisi performed a few songs from her Christmas album. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Give Love On Christmas Day" charted on the Hot R&B charts at #113.
In 2008 Ledisi performed the song "The Man I Love" as a blues singer in the Leatherheads movie.
2009–2010: Turn Me Loose
In 2009, Ledisi's fourth studio album was announced to be titled, Turn Me Loose. The album was released on August 18, 2009. Speaking in April 2010 to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis – Deputy Editor of the award-winning Blues & Soul – Ledisi explained the album's title reflected its musical diversity: "The title 'Turn Me Loose' is basically me saying 'I don't wanna be boxed in! Let me be myself as a performer and singer, because I do EVERYTHING! Not just one particular style!'." She employed production from seasoned Rhythm and Blues songwriter-producers such as Raphael Saadiq, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, James "Big Jim" Wright and Carvin & Ivan. The first single from the album was "Goin' Thru Changes". The second single was chosen to be "Higher Than This", produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and James "Big Jim" Wright.
On May 13, 2010, Ledisi performed at Charter Oak Cultural Center's 9th Annual Gala, a fundraiser for free after-school youth arts programming in inner-city Hartford. She performed several songs from Turn Me Loose, and also performed a duet with Anika Noni Rose, a tribute to the late Lena Horne.
2011–2012: Pieces of Me
Ledisi toured with R&B/soul singer Kem on his North American INTIMACY Tour. On March 10, 2011, during her opening act in Atlanta, Georgia, Ledisi announced that she had finished recording her fifth studio album, Pieces of Me, on March 9, 2011. It was released on June 14, 2011. It debuted at number 8 on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling 38,000 copies in its first week. The album's title track served as the album's lead single.
Ledisi has performed at the White House seven times at the request of President and First Lady Obama.
Ledisi headlined her first tour to promote her album, Pieces of Me. The Pieces of Me Tour played to 22 sold out shows across North America. With this album, she received three nominations for the 2012 Grammy Awards, in the categories Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song, for the album and the lead single "Pieces of Me".
Ledisi will release her first book, Better Than Alright: Finding Peace, Love & Power on Time Home Entertainment, Inc. in 2012. The book, an innovative collaboration with ESSENCE, is filled with the singer's personal photos, quotes, lyrics and richly detailed stories of the Grammy nominee's journey to acceptance of her beauty, talent and power.
On April 6, 2012, Ledisi announced her second headlining tour, B.G.T.Y., with Eric Benet serving as an opening act. In December 2012, VH1 announced that Ledisi would perform at their 2012 VH1 Divas show, a concert benefiting the Save The Music Foundation charity. Ledisi performed a Whitney Houston tribute medley with Jordin Sparks and Melanie Fiona.
2014–present: The Truth
On March 2014, Ledisi released her new album The Truth. She is also on tour with Robert Glasper in partnership the magazine "Essence" (which featured her on one of their three April covers as well as Erykah Badu and Solange Knowles).
In April 2014, Ledisi was cast to play Mahalia Jackson in the American historical drama film, Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb and DuVernay. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the film and on the official film soundtrack, Ledisi sings "Take My Hand, Precious Lord".Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Ledisi – Soul Survivor Ledisi discography singles (allmusic) Artist Chart History – Ledisi Searchable database Ledisi – Joy  Grammy.com Cite error: The named reference Billboard_200:_1.2F24.2F09:_Taylor_Swift_.231_72k was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Ledisi to return in August – hear a sample!. Soultracks. Retrieved: June 19, 2009. Ledisi interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' April 2010 http://www.charteroakcenter.org/index.php/classes/youth-arts-institute/ http://singersroom.com/content/2012-04-06/Ledisi-Announces-BGTY-Headline-Tour-Plus-New-Book/ http://www.vh1.com/shows/events/divas/_2012/ Hobdy, Dominique (April 25, 2014). "Ledisi to Play Mahalia Jackson in MLK Biopic, 'Selma'". Essence. Retrieved February 10, 2015.