Singer & Musician Lianne La Havas

The singer and musician performs from her Grammy-nominated album “Blood.”

Grammy-nominated singer and musician, Lianne La Havas released "Lost & Found," a four-track EP featuring a duet with Willy Mason and soon followed with her first debut album "Is Your Love Big Enough?" After touring internationally, La Havas released her second album "Blood," for which she received a Best Urban Contemporary Grammy nomination.

TRANSCRIPT

Tavis: Lianne La Havas is a Grammy-nominated artist who recently released the companion EP, “Blood Solo” to her second studio album, “Blood”. This fall, she’ll open for singer-songwriter, Leon Bridges, as they tour the country together. Lianne, good to have you on this program, and congrats on the Grammy nod this year, the Grammy nomination.

Lianne La Havas: Thank you.

Tavis: Yeah, yeah. Why “Blood” as the title for this?

La Havas: So “Blood” is relating to my heritage and my family and it was something that I began to think more deeply about, I suppose, over the course of the last couple of years. And I found that my songwriting was beginning to explore more my family, I suppose, and actually why I am like I am and where it all comes from.

Tavis: Is there a reason or reasons for that particular kind of introspection at this point in your life?

La Havas: I think it was spurred by a trip to Jamaica with my mum, which initially was just going to be a vacation. You know, I wasn’t really expecting the significant shift that I had actually while I was there. But, yeah, it was just me and my mum, which I thought was a nice way to go to Jamaica, a nice holiday to do.

We’ve never been on holiday together even before. So I was just feeling really close to my mum and, therefore, really close to my Jamaican side of my family because I’d grown up around them from the age of about two.

I was raised by my Jamaican grandparents in South London and my father’s Greek, so I was surrounded by all of this different culture and amazing stuff. But when I was a kid, I went to Greece, but I had never been to Jamaica until I was 24.

So I guess I couldn’t not write about it. There’s a song, “Green and Gold”, is kind of the title track and it’s the most autobiographical song and it follows my childhood in South London through to my adulthood now being a singer.

Tavis: To my mind, or to my ears, I should say, the first album had a lot more acoustic to it. Is that fair?

La Havas: Yeah. It was definitely…

Tavis: If I’m wrong, you can correct me. I’m just saying what I hear.

La Havas: No, no, no. I would say it was definitely less produced. It was less instrumentation.

Tavis: Fair enough.

La Havas: But all the guitar that you do hear on it is an electric guitar. I like to think I specialize in electric and syncopating style. So it has a lot of that. But in this record, I guess I wanted to explore all the other things that I like and I was very grateful to be able to do that, and I made music in Jamaica. I traveled.

One of the songs recorded there was called “Midnight” and I guess what I took from it was a new understanding of how grooves are formed or an appreciation for it that I knew I had, but had never been able to inject into my music before. So that’s why it sounds, I guess, a lot more beats driven.

Tavis: One notices pretty quickly when one reads the liner notes. I’m an old school guy. I still love to read liner notes. It’s interesting to me the number of songs you co-wrote on this.

La Havas: Yes.

Tavis: Not just performing, a lot of writing, yeah. It surprised you too?

La Havas: Yeah [laugh]. So, basically, I think the reason is because it wasn’t all of us all in the room together at the same time. I was always in the room with no more than one person at a time. But, basically, when I start an idea with someone, if I really like it, but I might not get to see them again, or I feel like it went well, but I preferred aspects more than others of the thing that we made, I’ll just take the most bit that I like and take it to the next studio and see if I can actually finish it and make it into the song.

So a lot of the songs have been on a journey rather than being five people in the room. It was an idea starting with maybe one or two that I then developed with someone else. So, yeah.

Tavis: I mentioned earlier this tour you’re going to be on this fall. When I first heard about that lineup, that’s an interesting show.

La Havas: I’m sure.

Tavis: Interesting in terms of a very good show for two very young, talented artists who do…

La Havas: Thank you.

Tavis: You know,  their own thing, their own way. A little bit different than a lot of stuff we hear on the radio every day, but you and Mr. Bridges, that should be a great show.

La Havas: Yeah. Well, I love his music.

Tavis: Yeah, so do I.

La Havas: And I really respect what he is doing, and I think he’s very talented. So, yeah, and it’s nice to know that he asked me. He particularly wanted it to be me, and I just think it’s going to be a really great evening of music.

Tavis: It must feel good, though, when you’re at the point of your career now where you’re being asked by artists like him to tour with him, these Grammy nominations. I mean, it must feel good to know that your work is being appreciated not just by your fans, but by your peers.

La Havas: Yeah, absolutely. It was, you know, probably like one of the best things ever when I heard about the Grammy nomination. It’s amazing to know that the music has somehow reached further than England [laugh]. It’s amazing.

Tavis: Although there ain’t nothing wrong with being loved in your own country.

La Havas: No, exactly.

Tavis: But when you come, there’s something…

La Havas: I feel like, you know, if you look at the map behind you, how tiny England is [laugh]. You know, it’s amazing.

Tavis: It’s always fascinating to me. It never ceases to tickle me how persons like yourself from Europe, they always want to land in America and make it here, whether it’s Lianne La Havas or The Beatles. Everybody wants to make that trek.

La Havas: Yeah.

Tavis: Well, you’re doing it now.

La Havas: Well, I suppose so, but why stop at America [laugh]?

Tavis: Okay. Excuse me [laugh], Miss La Havas. All right, so why stop at America? Well, I’m glad you stopped by this part of America tonight for a conversation, and I think she’s right that the world, if they don’t know the name, Lianne La Havas, they will in the coming months and years. She’s awfully talented at what she does and you’re going to hear that for yourself in just a moment.

Her new project is called “Blood” and there’s an EP as well just out. This is the project for which she was Grammy-nominated this year, so you’ll want to get it, add it to your collection, and remember the name. No longer just LeAnn Rimes around here. Now we have Lianne La Havas as well.

Up next, a special performance of “Green and Gold”, the song she referenced earlier from this new EP, “Blood Solo”. That’s our show for tonight. Thanks for watching and, as always, keep the faith. Don’t move. Here comes Lianne La Havas.

[performance]

Announcer: For more information on today’s show, visit Tavis Smiley at pbs.org.

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Last modified: August 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm