In a world full of consumerism and pre-packaged pop, a musician’s career only lasts as long as their passion. Lianne La Havas is one of those authentic artists that you know will be around indefinitely. It is an honor to see her perform live. Even when singing about more somber subjects, she forces this brilliance upon your soul and makes you feel blessed in an incomparable way. Since seeing her perform at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, I can’t hear her music without feeling the power of her contagious smile. She is the kind of musician that inspires people, simple as that.
I first met Lianne at Prince’s Paisley Park studios in July of 2014. I was there for an advanced listening of Prince’s Plectrum Electrum, which was released in September of that year along with Art Official Age, featuring intertwined monologues recited by Lianne. Most people attending the party simply stood in line for their turn to go back into Studio B in groups of 15 or so. Of course, being the person I am with the friends I have, we spent the entire night dancing away from the crowd and were in the last two groups to meet 3rdeyegirl and listen to their debut album. I was standing in the lobby, talking with my friend, Danny, and we spotted Lianne 30 feet away. Danny, being the passionate, unconstrained soul that she is, couldn’t help but speak up when Lianne walked past us. “Lianne, we love your music!” Lianne turned to her and humbly asked, “you know who I am?” Of course the only natural response from all of us was to immediately participate in a group hug. Gratuity passed through our arms into each other’s spirits in an overwhelming pool of love. Just recalling this interaction between the dozen of us or so in that embrace surfaces a lot of emotions. Like Lianne says in “Wonderful” from the album Blood, “Break the circuit between us, but electricity lingers.”
Those eyes you gave to me that let me see where I come from.
In my opinion, “Green & Gold” is the song that encompasses the album title. Blood is all about learning, acknowledging, and creating family history. This line in particular pays homage to those who came before her. Lianne literally was given her eyes by her parents, but learning how to use them properly was a journey that they needed to help guide. Not only being able to see the world and the culture around her but also gaining the ability to see and accept herself.
Who’s that girl and does the mirror world go on forever?
As children and into our adolescence, we all have difficulty being able to truly define ourselves. Lianne sings about being 6-years-old and attempting to figure out what she looks like. Of course, as adults, we know that mirrors simply reflect what is and not what could be, but she sings about the mirror as a world of possibilities. Asking herself where she will be if she’s ever 23, Lianne is trying to use this mirror world to picture the future. In the second verse, she describes arriving where she is now – a place full of self-love and clarity. As a young woman (who is still a year away from 23), it is encouraging to know that coherence is attainable. It is the little moments in life that have helped me find peace in my own being. Listening to this song on an early morning car ride today was one of those moments, as was our joyous, impromptu group hug a year and a half ago.
And suddenly it seems that I’m where I’m supposed to be.