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Singer Ledisi Was 'Lost' but Now Is 'Found'

After years as a professional singer, Ledisi has finally been thrust into the spotlight after the release of her most recent album, Lost and Found. The disc earned Ledisi Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best R&B Album.

The singer/songwriter grew up in New Orleans, in a house where music was always playing. As a girl, Ledisi says she was very shy and awkward, and was beaten up after school every day. Always the darkest one, it took her a long time to accept herself. Being in the music business wasn't easy, she says, adding, "I had a lot of people tell me I'm not pretty enough." But these days, she says she's happy to be her: "I started loving myself towards the end of my record, probably two, three years ago."

Ledisi is known for owning her audience. "When I sing, and it's live, I become this other thing," she says. "I become this old lady preacher." She takes it seriously, and says she speaks as honestly as she can on stage, pointing out things other people don't want to talk about. "Live is a personal relationship between you and your audience," she adds.

Lost and Found features a much more produced sound than heard on her other records, but Ledisi says she was very much in control. "I was leery of recording again," she says. She started making the record before she signed with the Verve label, so she already knew the sound she was going for when she was working with the producers.

The title of the album refers to her feeling lost at the beginning of making the record, but feeling found by the end of the process. Outwardly, her confidence has grown as others have gotten to know her music. When Ledisi called to tell her mom that she'd been nominated for two Grammys (Best New Artist and Best R&B Album), her mom was so excited that she hung up on her. As for her inclusion in the Best New Artist category, Ledisi says she'll let others debate the oddity of a singer with her vast experience labeled "new," and instead enjoy the feeling of being honored.

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