Writing her first song at the age of 4 on a Casio keyboard, Ledisi had the bug and studied jazz, classical and R&B music, piano, drums and violin. When her family moved to Oakland, Ledisi became active with the local church and became their youngest choir director. She also studied classical singing and piano at the Young Musicians Program at the University of California at Berkeley and co-headed her high school gospel choir. Upon leaving high school, Ledisi studied music and acted in theater performances at Chabot College and Cal State Hayward. Her first band, Anibade, was conceived during the acid-jazz Brand New Heavies phase.
While looking for a keyboardist, Ledisi found her musical soulmate in Sundra "Sun" Manning who later also became her business partner. Together they started their own independent label, LeSun Music, releasing two critically acclaimed and very hard to find recordings, Soulsinger and Feeling Orange But Sometimes Blue. Ledisi and Sundra continued to sell records out of their cars and at their shows - begging record stores and radio stations to play and sell their music, all the while gaining a powerful fan base. This also has led to a new trend that most new Bay Area artists have followed Ã¢â‚¬â€œ selling records online for major dollars. Soulsinger and Feeling Orange have sold for more than $40-$180 a CD and have moved over 160,000 copies and continue to be the most hard to find independent albums to date.
Feeling Orange received a 2003 California Music Award for Outstanding Jazz Album and Soulsinger has received high praise since its initial release in 2000 and was re-distributed by Tommy Boy Records in 2004. After being an independent artist for six years, Ledisi had her first major break after appearing as a guest artist on GRPÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Grammy nominated album, Forever For Always For Luther. Audiences got a taste of her singing on "My Sensitivity" being one of only two singers (Lalah Hathaway being theother) featured on this wonderful instrumental tribute album.