Ledisi Named Artist in Residence at Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice
The Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice has announced that Grammy Award–winning artist Ledisi will be its first artist in residence this fall. Founded by Terri Lyne Carrington in 2018, the institute focuses on equity in the jazz field and on the role that jazz can play in the larger struggle for gender justice. It also celebrates the contributions women have made to the development of the art form and frames more equitable conditions for all pursuing careers in jazz in an effort to work towards a necessary and lasting cultural shift in the field.
“It is an honor to welcome the acclaimed performer, songwriter, actress, and producer Ledisi to Berklee,” said Carrington. “Ledisi’s residency marks a historic moment for the institute. I know her presence here at Berklee will be a gift to the students and greater artistic community on campus.”
Born in New Orleans and raised in Oakland, California, Ledisi has wowed fans with unparalleled vocals that have earned her a rightful place in the pantheon of the greatest singers of her generation. Ledisi is a favorite of Barack and Michelle Obama, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, the late Prince, and others. She has headlined nationally sold-out tours and has performed alongside such artists as Dave Matthews, Gary Clark Jr., Vince Gill, Keb Mo, Herbie Hancock, Maxwell, Robert Glasper, and Patti Austin.
After a distinguished two-decade career, Ledisi earned her first Grammy in March 2021 for Best Traditional R&B Performance for her hit song “Anything for You.” In November of 2021, she received a Grammy nomination for Ledisi Sings Nina in the category of Best Traditional Pop Album. She has 14 Grammy nominations, including for Best New Artist, three Soul Train Music Awards, 19 NAACP Image Award nominations, and a NAACP Theatre Award. She also received two L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award nominations, including one for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Ledisi is also a celebrated actress on screen and stage. She landed her first feature singing in the 2008 film Leatherheads, directed by George Clooney. In 2014, she portrayed the great Mahalia Jackson in the Oscar-nominated movie Selma, and also had a notable performance in Gabourey Sidibe’s short film The Tale of Four. In 2019, Ledisi secured her first major television role, playing the legendary Patti LaBelle on the hit BET hit series American Soul, which she followed up with a standout performance on the critically lauded FX series Pose. In 2021, she costarred with Lisa Raye on the BET Plus series Twice Bitten.
Earlier this year, Ledisi reprised her role as Mahalia Jackson in the biopic Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story. She will also portray the legendary Gladys Knight in the long-awaited Spinning Gold, a biopic about Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart. She made her Broadway debut in Tony Kushner’s 2004 musical Caroline, or Change, directed by George C. Wolfe, and officially returned to theater in 2019 as the Ancestor in the critically acclaimed off-Broadway musical Witness Uganda. In 2019, she cowrote and coproduced her one-woman show, The Legend of Little Girl Blue, which premiered with 19 sold-out shows at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. Ledisi returned to the stage in the revised version of the musical The Life, directed by Billy Porter, which opened in March at the New York City Center.
Ledisi is a passionate advocate for the arts, lobbying for young musicians and protecting the rights of creatives. She is currently the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Recording Academy, focusing her efforts on increasing and giving voice to diversity. In August 2021, she became an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Ledisi released her first book, Better Than Alright: Finding Peace, Love & Power, in collaboration with Essence magazine. Her latest book, Don’t Ever Lose Your Walk: How to Embrace Your Journey, was released through her company Chinweya Publishing.