State Theatre New Jersey


Interview with Kandace Springs

Celebrate Blue Note’s 80th Anniversary with an intimate concert event on November 6th. One of the artists, Kandace Springs, is a Nashville based singer, songwriter, and pianist. She joins us to chat about her upcoming album as well as what it was like performing with Prince!

Read the Transcribed Interview Below

with Kelly and Hanna from All Access and special guest Kandace Springs.

Kelly: And we’re back on All Access with State Theatre New Jersey with this wonderful lineup of interviews. Right, Hanna? 

Hanna: Yes! We are very excited!

Kelly: Yeah! And we are very excited for our next guest who’s going to be joining us on November sixth with Blue Note’s 80th Anniversary concert, which is a fantastic lineup. And with us today is Kandace Springs! Welcome Kandace!

Kandace: Hey! How’s it going? 

Kelly: It’s great! We’re so looking forward to November and Blue Notes. This Blue Notes concert is just blowing my mind! Tell us all about it!

Kandace: Aww thank you! I’m excited too! It’s going to be just a lot of fun and a lot of great music and amazing musicians and stuff. It’s going to be a good time. So I can’t wait to see you guys out there, and you know, it’s going to be cool. 

Kelly: Yeah, and I mean the lineup, you know, it’s you, it’s James Francies, James Carter. Do you guys all know each other? Have you preformed in a concert setting like this? I know, you know, each of you are doing your own sets and then there’s some collaborations at the end on some songs from the Blue Note Catalog, right?  

Kandace: Mmhhmm. Yep. It’s going to be super cool. Yeah we haven’t all played together. All of us haven’t played all together, but, like, we’ve seen each other in passing at other festivals and stuff. But it’s going to be cool that we can actually all play together for once. I’m looking forward to that. 

Hanna: So, Kandace, why don’t you tell us how did you get set up with Blue Notes? How did that connection come together? 

Kandace: You know what, years ago… Well you know what, I’ve probably been on Blue Note about five maybe going on six years now. I got to check my calendar! [all laugh] My team that I work with, my management company, you know, kind of knew some of the people that work with them. And I did an  audition. Don Was invited us to the capital records building, you know, Blue Notes resides in there and stuff. So it was really cool. I got to sit down at one of their pianos that they had down in their Studio A, where, you know some of the greatest musicians have recorded. And in my interview, I guess you could say, there they ended up wanting, I guess, to sign us and it was kind of an amazing moment to be honest. It’s such an honor and such a legendary label.

Kelly: Yeah. You, of course, grew up in a background with your family in music, right? I mean, I believe that your father was a musician? 

Kandace: yeah, yes. My father is. His nickname is Scat, Scat Springs. [all laugh] People call him Scat Kat because his grandfather was, you know, a musician, so, you know, it’s just been brought through the years now. But he got me a piano and stuff like that. And he started teaching me and taking me to his gigs, and I’d watch him in the studio sing back up for all kinds of artists. He sang back up for Aretha, Chaka Khan, Lauryn Hill, all kinds of artists. Just, it’s really cool. And all the country stars here in Nashville. So I was raised very lucky to be in that setting and stuff.

Hanna: Yeah, so when people think of Nashville, they may not necessarily think of, you know, jazz and blues, it’s generally more country. So, how did this become your area of expertise and what you decided that you wanted to focus on performing? 

Kandace: How you’re asking? 

Hanna: Yes, growing up in Nashville. 

Kandace: Oh. Man, girl it was so crazy. I don’t even really know how it happened.  A lot of it’s my father. He could sing anything, like he’s sounds kind of like a Marvin Gaye meets Stevie Wonder, but he can sing anything.  Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, everybody. And, I don’t know, he gave me a Nina Simone CD, a Nora Jones CD, back in the day… you know [laughs] and uh Luther Vandross, Eva Cassidy, and Roberta Flack, Ella Fitzgerald. Just all these amazing artists that were kind of soul jazz musicians and I don’t know it really drew me and I was just so in love with that kind of music. So, I started playing piano and I got lessons from the Wooten Brothers, Reggie Wooten, and most of you guys might know, Victor Wooten, who plays, they’re local in Nashville. So, I got lessons from them, and you know my dad taught me some vocal lessons. I don’t know it just kind of stayed that way. I would do writer’s nights in downtown Nashville and stick out like a sore thumb. [all laugh] The rest of the musicians are mostly country, or Americana, rock, sort of. And they’re like who’s this little girl coming here with an afro and playing some jazz, Ella Fitzgerald. What is that? Who is she? It was cool though, it made you stand out. 

Kelly: Yeah, what was it about the piano? Like I know, if I think about myself, I grew up playing the violin, but at first I wanted to play the cello. I wanted the play the cello, I had to play the cello! And I just came across it and started to play the violin. Was it always the piano for you? Or was there an instrument that you were looking at before piano?

Kandace: Um, yeah that’s a good question. Going back I always thought about ‘oh maybe I’ll play the sax or something like that’ and then the violin ironically. I never got one. [all laugh] And so, the piano came up as kind of an accident. My dad had some friends who fell on hard times and they had an old piano that meant the world to them and they were just going to throw it on the street because they had to move right there and then. And my dad didn’t want to, but he reluctantly took the piano in, and I came downstairs and saw it and started playing on it and that was kind of my first step to picking up piano from there. I was probably about 10 years old and then my dad got me lessons with the Wooten Brothers. So that’s cool. 

Hanna: There you go! So, I know going back a few years you actually had the opportunity to perform with Prince at Paisley Park for the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain. Can you walk us through what that experience was like overall and what happened, how did you get there? 

Kandace: Yeah that was really crazy. I was living in New York at the time, you know what it was, I remember now. We posted a video up of me doing a song called “Stay With Me” you know, Stan Smith’s “Stay With Me”. [sings chorus] I love that song! And I was singing it and we posted it on my YouTube channel, like ok cool, just more content, go on with the day. Next thing we know there’s a retweet on my twitter saying that Prince basically had retweeted my video… which it was just like what!? Hold on! We didn’t believe it at first we thought it was maybe someone with the same name, you know. [laughs] But no, then he called my record label and was asking if I could come perform with him and he was messaging me saying like ‘who are you? Do you want to come play with my band,the New Power Generation Quartet?’ Before I knew it, like literally about four days later we’re on a plane first class flying out to Minneapolis to Paisley Park. Just mind blowing.  [laughs] 

Kelly: Wow! Wow, I mean that just gives me chills. I mean, Prince! That’s just you know, he was a legend. Obviously a very big personality, so were you scared or nervous to meet him? 

Kandace: Oh so much! [all laugh] He wanted to call me like the second day he hit me up or something like that, I don’t remember, and it was just so nerve wracking. So I remember the phone call it was crazy. It was really awkward, I was awkward. [all laugh] “Are you nervous?” That’s what he was asking me and I was like: “uhhhh…” [all laugh] 

Hanna: You were like ‘uh yes, yes I am’. [laughs] 

Kelly: Yeah. I can’t imagine. I feel like if you said no that would be an insult! [all laugh]

Kandace: Yeah, uh huh, it was pretty cool man. 

Hanna: On top of, I know, putting covers on your YouTube channel, you also have some of your own albums. You have Indigo and you have Soul Eyes. Can you tell us a little bit about the stories behind how those came together and what they mean to you? 

Kandace: Yeah. Soul Eyes was my first debut record, which I’m proud of, yay! [laughs] 

Kelly & Hanna: We’re excited with you! 

Kandace: Yeah, we put that one out in 2016 and it was produced by Larry Klein who’s, like, the best producer. And what I really liked about what Larry Klein did is he made it basically like it’s a live record. Everything  you hear is all live instruments and almost brightened the moment while recording. There was hardly any overdubs on it which was really cool. The second one is a mixture. It was done by Karriem Riggins, its got a mix of soul, jazz, upbeat, classical. It’s really cool. I love the, you know, going to different places. But I have a third record coming out at the top of the year next year featuring Nora Jones in it. We’re doing a duet together. Dave Sanborn, Christian McBride, Chris Potter, and it’s so good. I’m real excited. Larry Klein produced my third album record which will be coming out in 2020!

Kelly: Nice! And will we get to on November 6th, will we get to maybe hear a song or two from that new album?

Kandace: You sure will! [all laugh] 

Kelly: I love that when, you know you’re referencing, you know some of the people you were listening to growing up, you mentioned Nora Jones! And so to go from listening to Nora Jones’ music to doing a duet, that had to be pretty spectacular for you.

Kandace: Oh you have no idea! [all laugh] The story of how we met is actually really funny, I ran into her at the airport in Nashville. She had just got done doing the um…ohhh… I forget, I’m spacing out here. She was doing a show in Nashville at our big Bridgestone arena or whatever it is and I was flying in from doing the Winter Jazz Festival, and I was hungry, I was in a bad mood, and the flight was rough. So I was like ‘ok screw it, I’m going to go to, you know, use the restroom or whatever before I leave’ and guess who’s walking out of the restroom? [all laugh] It was Nora Jones! 

Hanna: There you go!

Kandace: And I’m like what!? And she’s like “Kandace?” And I just ran up and gave her a hug like oh my god let’s exchange numbers. So she said “give me a call sometime”. So I got her number, texted her, and asked her to do a duet a month later and she was all in. She’s a real sweet person. 

Kelly: That’s amazing! And you know, when you’re putting together an album, like this new album, what are some of the inspirations that, for this recent album that you, kind of, draw from?  Like are there particular people that you’re listening to when you’re recording it? Or, you know is there a person in your life, or people, or stories that really speak to this album? 

Kandace: Yeah! I’ll go back and say all my influences going back, like, oh man, even on this new record coming out too, like I referred to Shaday, Roberta, and Billie Holiday. We’re doing a song for each artist. So I think of them when I’m doing these songs or whatever and when I’m writing as well. Taking bits and pieces from each artist be it on piano or vocals and stuff. I play classical piano as well, so Shaday is one of my favorites. So I kind of make my own hybrid, but jazz is the foundation of it all. 

Hanna: So there you go. So on top of having, you know, all of these amazing artists collaborate on your albums, I know that you’ve also appeared on other albums. You’ve appeared on Aqua Lung’s Black Future, Black Violin’s Stereotypes. We love Black Violin. They are regulars at the State Theatre. So what is it like getting to collaborate with other artists and working with them on something that may not necessarily be quote on quote your genre?

Kandace: It’s fine! I enjoy it a lot! You know, it’s an honor when anybody asks you to be on their project. Ghostface Killah was one that I did. I had the material I was like ‘hey make something out of this.’ I made the “Lament” song or whatever and kind of wrote a melody to it, and they ended up liking it! It ended up on the album so I was like ‘wow! That’s cool!” And it’s an honor even when any artist accepts to be on your stuff. So, I don’t know, it’s like a family within the artist realm. We have high respect for each other, our ideas, and talents. 

Kelly: Very nice. We’re talking with Kandace Springs who’s going to be performing at the State Theatre on Wednesday November 6th as part of the Blue Notes 8oth Anniversary concert featuring, of course, Kandace, James carter, and James Francies. And it’s just going to be an amazing evening with dynamic talent and music. Each of the performers will be performing their own collection of original material and then get together for some songs from the historic Blue Note Catalog. Thank you Kandace for being on today’s show. We are so excited and are looking forward to seeing you in November! 

Kandace: Awesome! I’m so excited. Thank you guys for your time and give me a call often! Ya’ll have a good day!

Hanna & Kelly: You too! 

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