Grown Folks Music caught up with contemporary jazz vocalist Lindsey Webster. She talked about the journey and mood she sought to create for listeners with her new album, Love Inside and how she is progressing as an artist with each project.

GFM: You said that you like to think of the music you write as a collection and you arrange the songs to tell a story and bring the listeners on a journey. What is the story and the journey for this album?

LW: It starts off with a self realization. I don’t write the songs exactly to be that way. It’s just [that] I write them all and I listen and I try to organize them in a way that I think makes sense. “Love Inside” was like finding the love in yourself. Through that, you realize, ‘Oh, I’ve been through crazy things before.’ That’s what “A Love Before” is about. Then, finally being able to find someone else and maybe losing love… then, looking around you and realizing the world is in need of love. That’s the “Free To Be Me”/”Dream” segment of the album. I kind of move it into more relationship-based songs for tracks six, seven,eight, nine and ten [laughs]. That’s obviously one of my favorite things to write about.

Love Inside is exploring all different facets of love in terms of your own self worth and realizing how worthy we each are of our own love and not being so hard on ourselves. It’s about not being hard on each other. It’s about learning how to treat people properly in a relationship. It explored all these different areas and shades of love. When we wrote these songs, it was all very positive and upbeat. It’s a good, upbeat album, I’d say.

GFM: You primarily create with your husband Keith. How did you come to include the people you have featured this time around [Rick Braun, Norman Brown]?

LW: I actually met Rick a few years ago at the Berks Jazz Festival. A lot of the jazz festivals have what they call an all-star jam. You’ll have a whole bunch of different instrumentalists and a few singers and we all kind of get together and say, ‘Oh alright, let’s make a set list. Maybe Lindsey will sing “Over The Rainbow”, or Rick will do a tune from his album or “Pick Up The Pieces”, or something like that.’ The first time that I ever met Rick, I did “Over The Rainbow” with him. We just had a great relationship. It was really easy to get along with [he was] a really, really, nice guy. He ended up asking me to sing on his album. We co-wrote “Love Take Me”, which is on his most recent album, Around The Horn. Actually, that same weekend I met Norman Brown also. That was cool. I got to talk to him a little bit. After we wrote the whole album we were trying to decide who would be a guest on the album. When “Free To Be Me” came up, I said, ‘Man can use some screaming guitar solo.’ We thought of Norman, because I’ll probably be working with him on his next record too. It’s like a little family that we have. We all have the same managers and the same label. It makes it very easy to collaborate.

GFM: Do you have a dream collaboration?

LW: Gosh, whenever people ask me that I say Stevie Wonder, because he’s been such a huge inspiration to me both as an artist and as a person. He seems so sweet. I know a lot of people who’ve worked with him and say he’s such a great guy. I always wished that I could sing with Luther Vandross ’cause his voice was just incredible. I would love to do a song with Maysa. We actually talked about it, so something might be brewing there with Maysa eventually. Of course I gravitate toward other singers, because I’ve never put a duet on an album or put anything like that out. That’s definitely something I’d like to do.

GFM: What to you think the progression has been for you as an artist on this album?

LW: I think that there is just a natural evolution that is evident just through me changing as a person and being more comfortable with writing songs and performing them. My first record, which I put out in 2013… I listened to it not too long ago and always had this idea that I was oversinging and was not writing songs suitable for my range. Actually, I was being too hard on myself. One of my major things that I’ve learned is how to write for me instead of being like, ‘Oh, what would Mariah Carey do?’ Or, ‘What would Whitney Houston do?’ I really got to identify my own voice and what I’m capable of and what my range is. A lot people compare me to Mariah Carey ’cause I can sing pretty high like her. Not as high as her, and I like to use that upper range. Some people compare me to Mariah Carey like that, but I also have other facets of my voice that are deeper. That’s when people compare me to Sade or Anita Baker. I used to write with these people in my mind like, ‘What would so and so do?’ Luckily, I have my own voice so it came out sounding like me, but I’ve just come to understand who I am as an artist and a songwriter. I think that the next album will be even more so of that kind of evolution. It’s not like I ever decided that I was going to change my writing style, but a lot of people have said that it seems like a brighter side of our music. [It’s] a more uplifting and upbeat thing. That’s really want my music to be– about love and about joy. I want my music to bring people joy. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of joy in my life.

GFM: If love is the theme of the album, then what is the mood of the album?

LW: There’s a whole bunch of moods on there. There’s carefree. There’s heartbreak. There’s worry.

Between “Free To Be Me” and “Dream” there’s a little bit of worry. Those two songs are talking more about the political climate and how we seem to be so divided as a country… even as a world. Those songs are kind of like a hope that one day we can just let each other live. Yes, there are murderers and terrible people out there, but if someone is living their life and they’re a lesbian, and someone [else] grew up to believe that’s against the Bible… I don’t know, I think we need to all let go of these things that seem important, but if it’s not directly affecting our lives [then] just let people be.

GFM: You’re still an artist who’s building. Since you’ve put your music out into the world, what’s the best thing you’ve heard come back to you about your music?

LW: The most common thing that people say is that we’re making music “like they used to”. Like back when real bands were playing the tunes. A lot of music has moved into this digital, drum-program kind of thing. It’s kind of artificial. It’s still creative and it’s still music, but I think that a lot of the people who appreciate our music are listening to the guitarist take an extended solo or listening to the horn parts and the strings. That’s the best thing that I love to hear about our music. People realize we are taking the time to produce a band and not just have these controlled drum sounds that already sound good. It takes a lot of time to make sure that the drum sounds are right. In terms of production, [deciding things like] what guitar Mike, our guitarist, is gonna use to get a certain sound. People really appreciate that we’re playing with a real band.

Lindsey Webster’s new album Love Inside is out NOW.

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Kimberly Kennedy Charles

I have questions. Artists have answers.