La’Porsha Renae Interview: Transition From American Idol To Motown, New Album “All Ready Already”, Creative Process
Artists will come and go in the music industry, but there will always be room for those who can flat out sing. La’Porsha Renae proved early on that she could sing with the best of them through her successful run on the last season of American Idol where she was the runner up. Her power vocals captured fans all over the world and landed her a deal with Motown. The success continued for her with the top ten Urban AC record “Good Woman” and she is now being viewed at as one of the bright young talents in R&B. YouKnowIGotSoul had a chance to talk to La’Porsha Renae about the success of her current single “Good Woman”, her debut album “All Ready Already” as well as her creative process working in the studio with producer Harmony Samuels.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We were introduced to you through American Idol. The one thing we’ve always noticed about you is how comfortable you are on stage. Is that something that came natural for you?
La’Porsha Renae: No because when I first went on Idol, I was pretty nervous. People say it didn’t show, but it was there. The more I did it and the more I was on stage, I gradually got more confident.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about the transition from American Idol to Motown. How did you get signed?
La’Porsha Renae: Before the finale night, I was pulled off stage after the winner was announced and they told me that I had been signed to Motown for about a week. I was excited and happy that my journey didn’t end there. It’s been a learning and a very blessed experienced. I’ve been blessed to have such a great team around me.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Performing on Idol is live on stage and then you went onto recording your debut album in the studio. Singing live and recording in the studio are two different beasts, so what was that adjustment like for you?
La’Porsha Renae: It’s a little bit harder to record in the studio because that’s where you try to get the perfect take of a song compared to doing it live where the imperfections make it perfect. It is a little different, but I’ve always tried to put my 120% into everything so that the live feel will come through in the song and in the studio.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about the feedback for your debut album “All Ready Already”
La’Porsha Renae: I’m blessed. I’m so thankful and humble to the fans and how it’s being taken so well. With it being a debut album, I knew it would be under a lot of scrutiny and criticism, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of people are really feeling the album. It’s encouraging and inspiring. I want to continue to push and work harder. I think what people are gravitation towards in the album is the fact that I stayed true to myself. The La’Porsha Renae you heard on Idol is a little more amplified on the album, but I didn’t change anything. That was very important for me. Throughout the process, I tried to stick to who I am as an artist.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Did you already have in mind what you wanted the album to sound like or did your producer Harmony Samuels push you in a certain direction?
La’Porsha Renae: I already knew. I’m a soul singer and I grew up listening to old school soul, so I wanted to bring that music back and Harmony got that. He has the golden computer and I call it that because it’s full of crazy masterpieces. I was blessed enough to go through some songs with him and we chose the album. The same songs we went through that day were the ones that ended up on the album. Everything took a lot of thought, so we didn’t just throw things together. We were precise about the sequence of the songs and how to sing certain songs. It was a combination of creative minds coming together and making a beautiful work of art. That’s really exciting. You start off with an idea and then you tell somebody else and they put their two cents in. At the end, you just have a big rainbow of perfection with all of its imperfections. Every song has a story behind it and there were a lot of fun times in the studio. Just knowing all of that, creating the album wasn’t just creating a work of art for people to listen to. It was memories and it was an experience. It’s got its own personality and own memories.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Of course you have the single “Good Woman” which has done really well on Urban AC. What made you decide to go with that record first? Being such a young artist, would you be afraid that a soulful ballad would box you into an older crowd?
La’Porsha Renae: Well, that’s the thing. I never get caught up on how young of an artist I am because I feel old, act old and I can look older. I’ve been looking old since I was 10. *Laughs* Unfortunately, I’ve gone through a lot of things in my life that make me feel older and I listen to older music. That’s always been where I’ve been comfortable. If I tried to be a young Pop star, it wouldn’t have worked because it’s not just who I am. I wasn’t afraid of that. I did choose a different single than the label did. I chose “Already All Ready” but it all worked out. That song will be my second single. “Good Woman” was chosen by the label. They were like “Trust us on this. This is an introduction to you. You’re a soul singer. You stand for women empowerment”. I trusted them and it did great. It was a decision by the label and it was a very nice one.
YouKnowIGotSoul: When I went into listening to the album, I expected a bunch of songs like “Good Woman”. However, there’s a lot of variety on the album. How important was that for you to touch on all these different sounds and genres?
La’Porsha Renae: It was very important because I never want to isolate someone. Michael Jackson was definitely one of my idols. His music was so universal and neutral. He was for everybody. I took that to heart and I wanted to be that kind of artist. I didn’t want to appeal to one demographic or genre because I grew up listening to a variety of music. I like a variety of music, so that actually shaped me into the artist I am. I can’t just give the credit to some soulful artist that I listened to or just some Pop artist I listened to. It’s all of them and that’s what I was trying to share. I was trying to share who I am as an artist. I am a diverse and versatile artist. That’s what I told people. On the album, no song is going to sound alike and I love that because it makes it where there’s something for everyone. Even kids because I’m a single mother. I don’t want my daughter singing curse words or vulgar music. I didn’t make vulgar music because I don’t want anybody to be excluded. I want it to be for everyone.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Although you draw influences from older artists, the album still feels very mid 2000’s to me. How much did that era of music influence you?
La’Porsha Renae: It influenced me a lot because I grew up in that. I was a teenager during those times. I was very intrigued by a lot of hte music out there. I think the mid 2000’s still kind of rolled off the back of old school artists. I think they just put a modern twist to it. While the album has a very old school vibe, it has that modern feel about it. That’s something that was kind of hard to accomplish and it wouldn’t have happened without the great minds of Toby Gad, Diane Warren, Ne-Yo and Harmony. They sat in there and took what I wanted to portray and made the music relevant and modern.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Ne-Yo wrote the song “Somebody Does” for you. What was it like working with Ne-Yo?
La’Porsha Renae: I was very starstruck. He didn’t know it though and I hid it pretty well. I was very humbled that I was even there because I remember him from “Stomp The Yard”. It was kind of nice and he was very down to earth. He made me feel really comfortable. I really wanted to show a high level of professionalism. I went in and I was honest about what I wanted and what I was willing to do. At first, there was a part of the song talking about cheating and a part where he cursed. I told him I didn’t want to do that. I was kind of scared to say it because I thought he would be offended, but he took it well. He told me it was refreshing and said “It’s okay, you’re not that type of artist”. He tweaked the lyrics to be better personalized for me. Working with him was a blessing. It was cool and down to earth. There wasn’t a lot of pressure though, so I felt really comfortable.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What does it feel like to being part of legendary label like Motown? What kind of expectations do you put on yourself?
La’Porsha Renae: Well I don’t really put any expectations on myself. Motown isn’t what it used to be. The Motown I remember is not the Motown of today. I try to have an open mind and try to look at Motown for what it is today rather than compare it to back then. I just allow things to happen like they’re supposed to. I think a lot of the older influences still come through me, Kevin Ross and Sebastian Kole. I do think it has taken a turn and I look at it as a new Motown and a new experience. I try to embrace it for being that.
YouKnowIGotSoul: It’s been a challenge for young R&B artists to break out and make a name for themselves because of the state of the genre. Where do you see yourself fitting into this era of trap music and Hip Hop?
La’Porsha Renae: I don’t see myself fitting in which is completely fine with me. I’m very comfortable with not fitting in because there is a lot of trap music out. That’s not the type artist I would want to be or the type of artist I am. I just try to be the best version of the artist that I am. Eventually I hope that people gravitate towards that or find it in their musical heart to like that as well some music from today. I don’t try to fit in with today’s music. I just want to be true to who I am and what I am. People eventually get on board if they like your music and if it’s good music. If they don’t accept it, I don’t think it’s anything to be taken personally. An artist is meant to be critiqued and scutizined a little bit. I put what I put out there and pray that people will like it.