A decade into her career as an R&B artist, it's hard to believe Ledisi actually got her start in opera. Beginning at age eight and continuing through her studies at UC Berkeley, the singer and songwriter spent years honing her operatic voice before switching to R&B and soul. However, she tells Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz that the two worlds aren't so different — especially when it comes to the skills the singers cultivate.
"I love opera so much," says Ledisi. "I would never go back to doing it, but I love to listen — I'm grateful for it. I studied diction, breathing control, phrasing, why the song means something. You want to bring that across to your listeners."
Ledisi's fifth studio album, Pieces of Me, was released out last month. She says that even after five albums, not to mention two Grammy nominations, she still wrestles with plenty of doubt.
"I'm always doubting because I've been told so much that 'You're not the right look,' or 'You're not the right sound,'" she says. "Whether I do jazz or R&B, there are always complaints. I would just listen to the complaints about what I do instead of celebrating what I do, and that I'm different and in my own lane. It took a while for me to just ignore the doubts."