One of last year’s best, proper soul albums was LINDSEY WEBSTER’S album, ‘You Change’. The set was Ms Webster’s sophomore long player and it won acclaim right across the soul spectrum for its stately, smooth, sophisticated take on modern soul. Lindsey has just released her third album…. another acclaimed set of tunes, ‘Back To Your Heart’ but despite the success of ‘You Change’, not too many people know too much about Lindsey Webster, so to rectify that we tracked down the lady. Of course we wanted to know all about the latest album but to get started we asked Lindsey to fill in the key biographical details……
I grew up in Woodstock, NY, and for those who are not familiar; it is a very artistic and musical town. Many of the most famous musicians we know today sought out Woodstock as a creative place to be. So, I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in such a forward thinking town with progressive parents (aka hippies). My parents had a vast collection of records. They were really into stuff like Todd Rundgren, George Harrison, Elvis Costello and a lot of other classic rock. When I stared buying my own albums, though, it was Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and singers of that nature. I really enjoyed hearing the acrobatics of their voices and melodies. The passion and soul that they emanated took me over.
You attended LaGuardia School for the Music, Art & Performing Arts, I believe, tell us about that…
Well, as a high school student, I unfortunately didn’t make a lot of time for classes if they didn’t involve music. So, whenever I made it there, it was just for orchestra (I was playing Cello and wasn’t singing as much at that point). My second semester there, though, I did take a voice class. About half way through that semester, we ended up moving back upstate, so although it was short lived, I had such a great time experiencing NYC and the hustle and bustle of it all. I actually still have friends who I met there, too.
When did you decide to make a career out of music?
I realized that I wanted to sing very early on in my life, though, I didn’t start building my career until about 2009 when I met Keith Slattery, my partner in music, life, and crime! We immediately started writing original music and performing whenever and wherever we could.
I read your first album picked up a few awards…. tell us about that…
Yes, our song “Choices”, that Keith and I wrote together, won the popular vote for Best Acoustic song in the Independent Music Awards. That was really awesome being that we were very unknown at that point. That was the first glimpse of hope that I could have a shot of doing music as my main career.
Did that lead directly to the deal with Atlanta Records for your second LP?
It didn’t hurt! I ended up submitting “Fool Me Once”, a song from “You Change”, to Brian Hurst at www.soulandjazz.com. I found him on the Internet and saw that he liked to feature music and new artists. So, I sent an email and very shortly after got one back. Brian said he really enjoyed the song and that we should chat on the phone. To make a long story short, he suggested us to Atlanta (whom he is a partner with) to pick up the yet-to-be-released “You Change” and they did. Brian is one of our great friends, now, as well!
That album, ‘You Change’ brought you a wider audience… how did that change you or your approach to your craft? And just how successful was it?
We were lucky enough to have a #1 single on the Smooth Jazz Billboard chart back in February with our song “Fool Me Once”. “Open Up” also made it up to #3 for it’s top spot in the Springtime. I’m not sure that the success really changed my approach to writing or singing, directly. I think as an artist I am naturally evolving from all experiences in my life.
Your new album comes via Shanachie… what happened to the deal with Atlanta?
Our deal with Atlanta was technically a distribution deal, so they still have “You Change” under their umbrella and continue to work with us for that album. I also have a close relationship with Brian Hurst and soulandjazz.com.We chose to run with Shanachie because of the strong suggestion from my manager, Bud Harner. Sometimes, in order to grow, you have to take the next step even if you cannot see it. It seemed to make sense to go with a label which has a lot of the heavy hitting artists whose paths we see are moving along well. We think that Shanachie has the right personnel and outreach for helping us spread the word about our music.
OK, the new set, like the early ones, is produced by your husband, Keith Slattery. How does that professional relationship work… what are the good parts about working together… any negatives?
I could not ask for a better partner, friend, and champion than my amazing husband, Keith Slattery. Even before we were romantically involved and we were just working professionally, Keith was my #1 fan. We are lucky that we get along and compliment each other so well. For most people, if you live, eat and sleep next to one person, as Keith and I do, it gets a little hairy, and sometimes it does for us. But overall I am amazed at how little we bicker and how well we function as a unit.
Why did you choose ‘Back To Your heart’ as the title track?
After a meeting with Shanachie, and a run through listen of the tracks we had finished at that point, “BTYH” just seemed to be the clear contender for the single from the album. We originally thought we would release “Where Do You Want To Go” or “I Know You Well” as the initial single, but we felt “BTYH” had a strong hook and a memorable one at that, so we went with it.
One of the key tracks is the homage to your late mother… how hard was it to work on that one?
It was a breeze to write “Somehow” because I had wanted to get it off my chest for so long. There is a song called “Lost One”, from “You Change”, that I wrote about my Mom before she passed away. It’s a slow and a sad song about our struggling relationship. I needed to redeem her and write a song that more accurately represented her and her sprit. “Somehow” was one of the last songs we recorded for the album, and at the end of the song, I say “I love you, Mom”, and right after I said that line, I broke down in tears. I am even tearing up now thinking about that moment. I don’t know if it was the stress of finishing the album coming to a head, or me finally getting to say “I love you” out loud to her since she passed, but it was an amazing release at the time. “Somehow” is one of my favorite songs on the album.
Then there’s ‘One At A Time’ a song inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement… tell us about that one.
I spent a lot of time thinking about “Black Lives Matter” and what it means to people; black people fighting for their social justice, white people claiming that “All Lives Matter”, and anyone in between. I don’t know much about politics or social science, but what I do know (and this is what “One At A Time” is about) is that the only way we can ever change this is by love; loving ourselves, loving our friends, and even loving our enemies. I know it’s more complicated than just that, but at the core, that is what it’s all about. “With some love we’ll change what they feel” is one of the lines from the chorus of that song. If someone is born into an ignorant, racist home, judging him or her and hating them for that will not help. Racism, at the core, is just fear. We need to break the cycle and open our hearts to those who suffer from fear and hate. They are the ones who need love the most.
What other songs would you like to draw our attention to?
I honestly am so thrilled with every song on the album. “Where Do You Want To Go” will be our next single, though!
How would you describe the album’s overall sound and ambience?
This album has a little of everything. We have some groovy, mid-tempo stuff, mostly, but we also throw in a ballad, an up-tempo, funky song, and even some jazzy, mood stuff. It’s perfect for driving, chilling in your house, or just putting on your headphones and relaxing with a fine wine (or whatever else you choose to relax with).
People have made comparisons between you and people like Sade, Anita Baker…. even Dusty Springfield. What do you think about that?
I love hearing who people think I sound like. I don’t mind at all when people compare me to others. When I hear a new artist and I draw a comparison, it’s because I am excited about it and want to take what I can from a previously loved artist and relate it to the new one. It’s always fun to hear how people interpret me and my music.
What next then for Lindsey Webster… short and long term…
We are very interested in playing live shows any and everywhere that we can. That is going to be our main goal for 2017. I want to promote “Back To Your Heart” and get it into as many music loving hands as possible. And believe it or not, Keith and I are already itching to write material for the next record. What I want is to create music that people enjoy and play live shows where I get to meet these folks who support us. It gives me joy that I never experienced at any other job I’ve ever had. It’s my purpose and I am thrilled that I get to fulfill it.
And will we get to see you in the UK any time soon?
Yes! We will see all our UK friends and fans on January 5th at the Pheasantry in Chelsea! We are trying to book more dates around then, and you can check my website at www.lindseywebstermusic.com for details.
Go to our reviews section for a full review of ‘Back To Your Heart’