KANDACE SPRINGS RETURNS WITH ‘INDIGO’ BROAD-RANGING NEW ALBUM
Singer and pianist Kandace Springs has released her remarkable second albumIndigo (Blue Note), a 13-track LP of originals and choice covers that showcases the full breadth of Kandace’s artistry from smoldering R&B (“People Make the World Go ‘Round” “6 8”) to gorgeous jazz ballads (“Unsophisticated” featuring Roy Hargrove) to the pop songcraft of “Breakdown” and “Don’t Need The Real Thing.” All but two tracks are produced by drummer/producer Karriem Riggins(Common, Erykah Badu) with additional production by Jamie Hartman(Rag’n’Bone Man), Jimmy Hogarth (Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae), Jimmy Harry (Madonna, P!nk), and Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken (Rihanna).Indigo is available on vinyl, CD, download, and streaming services.
For Kandace it boils down to a question that connects past to present: “What would Nina Simone do if she had the technology of today? You could never put Nina in a box—she would do a blues followed a classical piece, a jazz standard and then a Beatles cover. This LP took a lot of inspiration from that—it’s a mix of everything that I am.” Indigooffers a fairly plausible answer to that impossible query: songs that swirl classical composition with quiet-storm cool, jazz poise with hip-hop swing, tropical warmth with soulful depth, and earthen groove with airy psych.
Given that diverse palette, Karriem was exactly the right person to work with Kandace to catalyze the best parts of various interests into something new. “I love crossing genres and the direction on Indigo was to marry all the different things to tell her story,” says Karriem, who tracked his drums at various studios while on the road with Diana Krall, and chopped and reassembled his and Kandace’s recordings into what you hear. “It sounds organic because everything was built around the songwriting. She says so much on the piano, and her voice is amazing—it’s the focal point of the whole sound.”
Prince once said that Kandace “has a voice that could melt snow.” The music icon heard her cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” online in 2014 and invited her to perform with him at Paisley Park for the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain, becoming a mentor to the young singer and pianist. Kandace’s 2014 self-titled EP turned even more heads and led to performances on Letterman, Kimmel and Fallon, as well as the Afropunk and Bonnaroo festivals.Okayplayer called her as “a vocal force to be reckoned with” and Afropunkdubbed her “a versatile and vital artist.”
Kandace’s 2016 debut album Soul Eyespresented an already remarkably mature artistic voice with an album that touched upon soul and pop while channeling her jazz influences as well as her Nashville upbringing. MOJOmarveled at the album’s “sensuous vocals with minimalist yet elegant arrangements” while The Guardian raved that “she has a rare ability that can’t be taught – to sound like an old soul, just doing what comes naturally.”
Kandace draws much of her musical inspiration from her father, Scat Springs, a respected session singer in Nashville. It was due to him that Kandace grew up surrounded by music, and he encouraged her to take piano lessons after he watched her peck out melodies on the instrument when she was 10. Yet as a girl, she was equally interested in other creative outlets, especially visual art and, more unexpectedly, automobiles. “My dad gave me a Matchbox car, and my mom gave me a Barbie,” she says. “I drew a mustache on the Barbie and never played with it again, and I still have the Matchbox car.” (Her obsession with cars, which she collects, rebuilds, and resells, continues to this day.)
Something deeper in the young musician was sparked when she heard Norah Jones’ 2002 Blue Note debut,Come Away With Me. “The last song on the record is ‘The Nearness of You’ and that song really inspired me to learn to play piano and sing. It was just so soulful, simple and stripped down. That really moved me and touched me. It’s when I realized, ‘This is what I wanna do.’”
Kandace began gigging around Nashville, and eventually an early demo she recorded caught the ears of Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, the production team who have written hits for Shakira, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson, and are best known for discovering Rihanna as a teen and signing her to their production company SRP. Rogers flew to Nashville with an offer to sign Kandace. Still only 17 years old at the time she and her family decided that it wasn’t the right time to pursue a recording career, instead taking a job at a downtown Nashville hotel where she valet parked cars by day and sang and played piano in the lounge at night.
A few years later, Kandace was talking about going to automotive design school, but her mother suggested that she get back in touch with Rogers and Sturken. She instead moved to New York and started working seriously on new songs and demo recordings. She eventually landed an audition with Blue Note President Don Was at the Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles, winning him over with a stunning performance of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (the original of which he had coincidentally produced).
If you listen closely to Indigo, you’ll hear a nod to Prince in the lyrics of “Fix Me,” but the best tribute she could pay to him, Ms. Simone, and the humble legacy of the man who introduced her to music, her father, is by, as Karriem words it, “creating something that adds to the art form.” With Indigo, an album that couldn’t have been made by anyone but her, Kandace Springs does exactly that.