WHO IS LEDISI?
Seven-time GRAMMY® nominated singer, songwriter, producer, actress, author, educator, and activist; Ledisi is already trail-blazing her way to becoming one of the most loved and influential entertainers of her generation.
THE EARLY YEARS
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana but raised in Oakland, California, Ledisi was exposed early on, to the concept of blending genres of music including jazz, R&B, gospel and rock. She spent a lot of her time dreaming to be a singer like her mother NyDy, a local singer at night and a legal secretary by day. NyDy groomed Ledisi's gift by enrolling her in many school music programs. By the time Ledisi turned eight, she was singing with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra, playing the drums, the violin and writing songs on her piano at home. Ledisi’s family moved to Oakland, California when she was ten years old. She was the shy, awkward, southern girl who barely spoke throughout elementary school. When the opportunity came along to participate in the school talent show, Ledisi soon found the courage to sing in front of her classmates. The song, "Black Butterfly helped her get a scholarship to UC Berkeley's Young Musicians Program and acceptance into Skyline High School on a performing arts scholarship. The same summer Ledisi graduated from high school, she was picked to play Dorothy in “The Wiz” at The Antioch Community Theater. She received a Shellie Award Nomination for her portrayal, and was asked to sing at the awards ceremony, where she received a standing ovation. A talent scout caught her performance and asked her to audition for the longest running cabaret show in the world, “Beach Blanket Babylon” and she landed a role in the cast. Ledisi received two scholarships to attend San Francisco State and Cal State Hayward but personal troubles at home would derail her dreams of attending a four-year college. She left home at 18 with only her jeans and a T-shirt and she never looked back. While attending Chabot Community College she met Professor Frank Sumares, currently a professor at San Jose State University. He saw great talent in Ledisi as a vocalist and asked her to sing with the Chabot Jazz Orchestra. She eventually dropped out of college to pursue her career as a performer, just like her mother.
A SHINING STAR
After performing around the Bay area in local groups, Ledisi decided to start her own band using her middle name Anibade. She became a regular on the Bay Area scene quickly developing a reputation as a MUST-SEE. Shortly afterward, she co-founded LeSun Records, with musical partner, Sundra Manning. Although her first two recordings, “Soulsinger” and “Feeling Orange But Sometimes Blue” were highly acclaimed and began to garner her international attention, she was still working multiple jobs to pay the bills and yearned to explore new, unconventional artistic horizons. In 2004, Ledisi moved to New York to understudy in the Broadway musical “Caroline Or Change” and also had a role written for her in the Broadway hit, “The Color Purple.” Even though she was experiencing great opportunities and accolades, Ledisi still struggled financially, sleeping on the floor of a friend’s apartment while singing on Broadway each night. She finally got her big break in 2006 when she was signed to a recording contract with Verve Music Group. Her 2007 debut album, Lost & Found, brought her critical acclaim and two Grammy nominations, one of which was for Best New Artist along with Taylor Swift, Paramore, Feist and eventual winner, Amy Winehouse.
After six albums, countless guest appearances on recordings and television, a featured role in the George Clooney motion picture, “Leatherheads” and partnering with Essence Magazine to publish her interactive motivational biography, Better Than Alright - Finding Peace, Love & Power, Ledisi’s star continues to rise. She has been a frequent performer and guest at the White House and has played an active role in the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden, highlighted by her electrifying performance at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
LEDISI, THE EDUCATOR
Ledisi is also an educator, mentor and motivational speaker. She has given private vocal lessons under the teaching style of Dave Stroud who trained her with the Seth Riggs Method. Ledisi has taught Master Classes at the Standford Jazz Workshop, Oaktown Jazz Workshop, UC Berkeley Young Musicians Program, The Jazz School in Berkeley, The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, Jazz Camp West, San Jose State University, Oakland School of Music, Dillard University and most recently, Bowie State University. She has also been very active in empowering students by speaking about her journey and the importance of a college education to students at HBCU's around the country as part of the United Negro College Fund Empowerment Tour. In 2011, Ledisi was selected by First Lady Michelle Obama to participate in the White House mentoring program for teenage girls. She was cited by the First Lady, as “an example of someone who through hard work and perseverance, overcame difficult challenges to achieve her goals”.
Ledisi is an advocate for rights of people who create music. She is a Governor for The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) in the San Francisco Chapter and Advisory Board Member of Hiphopsisters Network, founded by legendary rapper, MC Lyte.
Ledisi has done a lot, but realizes there is so much more to do . . .
2001 Soulsinger: The Revival
2002 Feeling Orange But Sometimes Blue
2007 Lost & Found
2008 It’s Christmas
2009 Turn Me Loose
2011 Pieces of Me
Uptown Jazz Orchestra
Led by acclaimed New Orleans jazz musician Delfeayo Marsalis, the Uptown Jazz Orchestra (UJO) was founded in 2008 as a multi-generational ensemble of the city’s finest musicians who, through repertory performances, strive to preserve and present the essence of big band and jazz traditions. New Orleans is considered the “Birthplace of Jazz” and these musicians are its finest ambassadors. They draw from Tthe Crescent City's incredibly rich and unique history and continued vibrancy of jazz.
The mission of UJO is to reach and extend jazz audiences in all communities without regard to economic class, sharing the importance of music and its history, and to motivate people of all ages to strive for excellence in everything they undertake. Through performances and clinics, UJO utilizes the power of the arts to equip and inspire the creative leaders of tomorrow.
The orchestra performs original compositions, blues and jazz standards that combine riff-playing, spontaneous arrangements, collective polyphonic improvisation, and New Orleans second line grooves. The remarkable level of musicianship and creativity presented continuously inspire audiences. Individually, the musicians of UJO have championed the Jazz art form in locations throughout the world as well as in the recording studio, clinic, and classroom. Additionally, UJO offers Jazz Ensemble and Instrumental Clinics that focus on unity and individuality, as well as instruction on technique, improvisation, and sectional playing in large and small ensembles.
Brandon Johnson, Christian Foster, Johntrell Andrews, and Tony Prosper comprise the all male r&b quartet known as Image Musiq. To date this group has performed at concerts and venues from New Orleans and Atlanta to New York City. They've opened for artists like Tank and Miguel and they have also performed for audiences including the New Orleans City Council, The National Black Caucus, 2013 Super bowl Gospel Concert and most recently for the 2013 Bet's Future Faces of Hip Hop and R&B Showcase in Atlanta. Since this groups inception Mia Harrison of Making Innovative Artist Management LLC has managed them. These young brothers are here tonight to present to you a true representation of rhythm and blues so please enjoy.