Lianne La Havas has arrived in the United States from London for a eight-concert solo tour that wraps up a few days before the February 15 Grammy Awards. Last year’s Blood is nominated in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category. It’s the 26-year-old artist’s first Grammy nomination.
We’d planned to talk by phone from her hotel in Manhattan a few hours before the first show the tour, but the connection is awful. I briefly hear her rich, friendly voice, “Sarah?” — before we must disconnect and try again. But, the minutes are ticking by and the phone isn’t ringing again. I’m worrying now that I won’t have time to ask her about when Prince, yes, The Purple One, came to her apartment in London for a cup of tea (with honey), or when she went to Prince’s personal recording studio, Paisley Park, to lay down vocals for his 2014 album, Art Official Age.
Minutes are passing. Now I’m guessing I won’t have time to ask her what it feels like to be 26 and be able to count Stevie Wonder, Robert Plant and John Legend as fans. La Havas caught the music world’s attention with Lost & Found, her 2011 EP, and then with Is Your Love Big Enough, her 2012 debut studio album. Her versatile soprano voice suits her heartfelt and elegant songwriting.
The phone is finally ringing. I pick up and hear La Havas gently laughing, “Wow, that was a terrible connection. You had some crazy robot voice.” Thanks phone company. I hate it when Grammy-nominees and friends of Prince think my voice sounds like a crazy robot.
Today in New York, she’s gone for a run, a bit of shopping, lunch and is ready to chat. Later, she’ll head downtown to perform in a cozy club in Chelsea, just La Havas alone with her guitar. She toured with her band earlier this year to support the album, but in these intimately scaled venues, like our Ortlieb’s Cafe, she gets to set her vocals free and take a deep dive into her jazz and neo-soul sound. Those lucky enough to get a ticket for the show at Ortlieb’s will get an evening of R&B grooves and powerful, textured vocals that can easily go from to-the-bone intensity to playful purr.
On to the interview… Read more »