Inspired by her father, who’s a Nashville-based soul singer who’s worked with the likes of Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin, singer-pianist Kandace Springs began playing piano at age 10 and then started singing when she was 13. She took classes at Nashville Jazz Workshop, the city’s community center for jazz, and honed her chops there.
All the hard work has finally paid off.
Produced by Grammy-winner Larry Klein (Lizz Wright, Melody Gardot, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock), her terrific new album, Soul Eyes,
touches upon soul and pop while adding jazz influences to the mix. The album’s 11 songs include a mix of originals and co-writes as Springs covers tunes by Jesse Harris, Shelby Lynne and War.
Springs, who performs at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12, at Crop's On Air Studio on the East Bank of the Flats, spoke about each track on the album in a recent phone interview.
Talk To Me
Larry Klein wanted me to get with Jesse Harris to see what songs he had. He wrote songs for Norah Jones and I love me some Norah. He lives in Tribeca in New York City. He has two apartments that he turned into one huge apartment. It’s pretty dope. He stated playing the song, and it immediately jumped out at me.
Soul Eyes feat. Terence Blanchard
It’s my favorite song on the album. It captures me in all my rawness. I love jazz. That’s what I grew up playing. Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken are the guys who found Rihanna. They’re known for finding pop artists, but they’re jazz heads. Carl found the song, and it really moves me. The chords are so satisfying. The brilliant [producer] Don Was had the idea to get Terence Blanchard on it. I was like, “Yes.”
Place To Hide
It’s been around for a while. Judie Tzuke is a British writer. Lucie Silvas lives in Nashville. One other guy wrote it too. I heard it five years ago and loved it. I used to play it in my sets. I used to be a valet parking attendant at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville. I used to play at the Bridge bar there. I would wash up and come back and play a whole set there at night. There would be drunk people stumbling through with their luggage, but when I played that song, it was like magic. People stopped in their tracks to listen.
Thought It Would Be Easier
I didn’t know who Shelby Lynne was until Larry Klein introduced me to her. He wanted me to check out the song. That’s my interpretation of it. I love the song. It’s got a cool soul groove.
We wrote this song with Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken. We got in the studio and put our heads together on that. Brandon Alexander contributed as well. He’s a hot producer who just did Tyrese Gibson’s album. He does the bass line on it. We liked that bass line so much that we wrote the song around it.
Neither Old Nor Young
When we heard it up in Jesse Harris’ apartment, we fell in love with it. We loved the simplicity of it. Norah Jones would have smashed that. That’s why it appeals to me.
Too Good Too Last feat. Terence Blanchard
That I wrote with Greg Wells and Linda Robbins who are out in L.A. We wrote something to channel what Sade and me would sound like if we had a baby. We wanted to channel that. I came up with the hooky part at the end. It was a lot of fun. Terence Blanchard contributes as well. It was over after that. He smashed that solo.
I wrote this one with Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken. I’ve known them for ten yeas now. That’s an important of any story I tell. We wrote that with Jimmy Harry, who wrote with Pink and Madonna. It was born as it went. The idea is that it’s about being someone’s fall guy and covering for someone. It’s like telling the person, “You can commit your crime and do your thing until you figure out that I’m the one for you.”
The World Is A Ghetto
That’s Larry Klein. I heard the song once or twice before. War has the best version all day. I have respect for that. Prince got on my case about this and said, “Why would you cover their song?” My version is more like Erykah Badu meets Nina Simone.
This has a throwback churchy feel. I like that. It’s a Shelby Lynne tune. it sounds like Gladys Knight and I love Gladys Knight. Larry [Klein] wanted me to do it. It has a choir feel in the background.
I wrote this one when I was 16, years ago. After “Novocaine Heart,” that was Prince’s favorite song. I was inspired by George Shearing who had an arrangement of a jazz standard called “I’ll Never Be the Same.” I don’t know where I found it. I think one of my teachers found it. If you listen to that song, you’ll hear the similarity. I was obsessed with Stevie Wonder too. I wanted to do these unpredictable chord progressions. It’s also like Duke Ellington with its simple but elegant lyrics.
Kandace Springs, 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, On Air Studio, 1075 Old River Road, 216-902-7112. Tickets: $18-$20, ticketfly.com.