ST. PETERSBURG — With independent spirit and message-giving of the moment, Grammy Award-winner Ledisi will perform Wednesday, Jan. 12, 7:30 p.m., at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts — Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg.
Tickets start at $45.50. Visit TheMahaffey.com.
Presenting “Ledisi Sings Nina,” the concert follows the release of her 2021 album by the same name.
This tribute to Ledisi’s “Shero,” Nina Simone, features seven songs of social and personal import drawn from Simone’s celebrated songbook. “Ledisi Sings Nina” is a finely crafted, arrangement-driven collection recorded in Holland, Los Angeles, London, and New Orleans before and after the pandemic began. It balances upbeat, big-band energy with atmospheric balladry, and an attention to historic detail that succeeds in updating the music for a modern hip-hop/R&B era. With the prowess of Ledisi’s voice, the messages of Simone’s music — of personal empowerment and collective protest — retain a relevancy for a BLM generation facing the same harsh challenges and bitter struggles of the 1960s.
The performances on “Ledisi Sings Nina” find the singer benefitting from top-tier support in a variety of contexts: The majority of tracks feature the world-renowned Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley with arrangements by Jochen Neufer, and others. “I’m Going Back Home” features the all-star New Orleans Jazz Orchestra directed by Adonis Rose. “Four Women” is powered by Ledisi in the company of three vocalists of equal authority: Lisa Fisher, Lizz Wright, and Alice Smith. “Wild Is the Wind” — with Spanish guitar, piano and drums — is the album’s sole live recording, taken from the 2020 PBS special broadcast “Ledisi Live: A Tribute to Nina Simone.”
“Ledisi Sings Nina” — the singer’s tenth album — caps more than a year of impressive achievement that includes a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance with the single “Anything For You” in March 2021; starring in her first PBS TV special, “Ledisi Live: A Tribute to Nina Simone” in December 2020; performing as part of an all-star cast of artists and activists on HBO’s “Between the World and Me,” a poetic adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ groundbreaking book, in November 2020; and releasing the album “Wild Card,” the debut recording on her own label Listen Back in August 2020.
Ledisi also published her second book, “Don’t Ever Lose Your Walk: How To Embrace Your Journey” on her Chinwe’ya Publishing imprint in January 2020.