LeToya , 2006

 

Written by: Jason Perlman

 

The first time I saw Avenged You are getting ready to come to Columbus, Ohio. What should the fans coming to the show expect from LeToya as a solo artist?
I hope you guys thoroughly enjoy me. I really do hope you enjoy the show. I have a great show for ya'll, a lot of energy with dancers and DJs. We are just going to have a lot of fun, so I hope you guys enjoy the show. Mary J. Blige is excellent. I mean she is an exceptional performer, a wonderful entertainer and it is kind of like a one-on-one with Mary J. Blige, even though there will probably be thousands of people there. It is like she talks dead-on to you because she sings with so much emotion and power. I feel her. And Jaheim is great, also. So we are just going to have a great show for y'all.

 

For someone like yourself who has been in a group, Destiny's Child for about seven years, how is it being on tour with someone like Mary J. Blige who has been successful as a solo artist?
I have been able to learn so much from her. God has definitely put me in a wonderful place with some amazing people. I guess just being able to watch her every night, take in everything she does and to just watch her get on stage and not even have all of this stuff going on around her, she performs amazingly. I can't even explain it because the emotion she portrays and how she gets on stage for two hours every show and delivers every single record to where you get chills is crazy to me. So I am taking all of that in.

How was it for you the first time you stepped up on stage as LeToya, not as Destiny's Child?
I was very nervous. I was very, very nervous because one: this is my first solo effort and two was because I came from a group, and a very phenomenal group that every time they hit a stage they are as close to perfect as they are going to get. So I think I was very nervous about that at first. I was like, "Oh my gosh, everything has to be right." I think I was so focused on everything having to be right and that overtook me. But I know because I have been on this tour and on stage almost every other night that I am so much more comfortable.

 

Did you find it easy or was it harder than you thought to find your voice for this first record? Was this something that has been building up for awhile or did you think you would always be in a group?
I really didn't know what I wanted to do, because I never saw myself doing the solo thing. I think I was so used to being in a group that I never saw myself doing it like I am doing it right now. But obviously that is what God had for me and I am very happy with what I am doing right now. I don't know, but I never saw myself as a solo artist. But once I got in the studio and got comfortable, I was like okay; maybe this is something that I can do.

 

Were you surprised at all at the success Torn had as a single or did you know when you recorded it that would be the song to break out?
I always knew there was something special about the song. It is a wonderful song and the reason I wanted to make it a single was because I knew a lot of people would be able to relate to it and I was definitely going through it. But I guess I was surprised because I am surprised with any success. But I knew a lot of people were going to take to it very well.

The next single is, She Don't. Is it hard for you and the label to pick singles? There is a diverse sound on the self-titled record, so it seems you can go in a lot of direction.
Yea, because you are like, "Where do we go after this?" I think the reason She Don't was a good pick after Torn was because it was sort of a continuation from Torn. In Torn, I was confused and in She Don't, I have moved on and he has moved on but she doesn't love him and wasn't there for him, so I think it is a great continuation from that.

 

Torn is a bit of a personal song, She Don't is somewhat about you and still relatable to a lot of people. How much did you want this first solo effort to be about LeToya versus how much did you just want to reach people?
I wanted it to be about me and my experiences and experiences that I may not have experienced, but people around me have experienced. I wanted it to be personal. I wanted people to get to know LeToya. And that is what I think I did in this album.

 

The name of the tour is Breakthrough Experiences, and although Mary J. Blige may have named the tour, it seems it describes you better.
Yea, it is definitely a breakthrough for me. Definitely a breakthrough for me and I appreciate her so much for putting me on this tour and giving me the chance at this wonderful experience. There is no other tour I would want to be on.

When you were in the studio with this record and you were getting near the completion process, where was your excitement level?
I was so excited. I was like; "I need to have it now!" But we had to make sure things were in order and we had to pick the right singles and have everything under control and I think we did a great job in that.

 

This record has a lot of different sounds to each song, which tells me you tried to write a record, not a few singles with filler. How important was it to you to have a record, and not some songs?
I wanted an album you could play from top to bottom. Something that people would be able to play and tell their friends about and share with other people. Something where you hear a song, and are like, "This is what I am going through." And hear another song and think the same thing. Something where the listener would think, "Oh she went through that and this is how she handled that." I wanted one of those albums.

 

You mentioned on stage all the excitement going on. How much do you think the outside entertainment aspect needs to be mixed with the vocal performance?
That has to come into play. I think people should be able to listen to the record and think, "Okay." And then when we hit the stage, you are like, "Okay she is feeling this and I hear it from a whole different point of view."

 

What are some of the things that get you up and motivated during the tour cycle? It can get pretty mundane being on tour cross-country.
The fans. Once they make that announcement of "LeToya" at the show, I am like, "Ahh, I am ready to go!" You get excited and I don't care how your day has been. They have lost my show outfit before, and I had to get on stage. But once I heard them say LeToya, I just came out there in whatever I had on and tried to give it my best. Those days happen. Things do not go right. But it is up to you to decide if you are going to let that ruin your whole show or whether you are going to let that go and step up and perform.

 

Are you overwhelmed or taken aback over how much attention this debut record is garnering?
Yea! It is cold crazy. People are screaming my name, LeToya! And I am like, it is just me y'all, just me. Just this country southern belle from Houston, Texas. That is it, you know? The funniest thing is when guys come up to me and are like, "That Torn song, man. That Torn song is exactly what I am going through! Girls don't understand, guys go through it, too." And I am like, "Oh hush. Whatever." But it's cool. It's cool.

 

Going through the whole press junket and getting asked all these same questions has got to almost put you in a zone. How easy is it for LeToya to fall back into just being that Southern Belle from Houston, Texas from LeToya the entertainer?
I am that same person every day. I am still like that. Even when I am doing interviews, interviewers are like, "God you are so country!" And I can't cover it up. I really can't. Sometimes I do well with it, but other times, especially if someone makes me laugh about something or if there is any emotion behind anything, my accent comes out. So it is not hard for me to flip-flop between the two.

 

With all the success from Destiny's Child to your solo career, when you think back to growing up in Houston, can you even imagine where you are?
No. Oh my gosh, no. I never thought this would happen to myself. I never did. You know how some people say they knew in the back of their mind and they always knew? Well, I didn't know. And especially once I got in with Destiny's Child, because I thought that would be forever. But you never know what God has for you. But I am happy.

 

So I have this amazing press kit with all these photos in short shorts.
Ooooh. I am so embarrassed by that. I was like, oh those shorts and those boots. I normally don't show my legs. That was embarrassing.

 

Are you normally a person who loves to be in the spotlight?
Nope. I am in the corner somewhere kicking it by myself. I love to go kicking it with my friends and have a good lunch, get into a good dinner or go shopping. I am not one of those spotlight kind of people. My family got mad at me because they were telling me I couldn't go to the mall by myself. I am like, "Yes, I can." They were telling me I needed security. So they got me this security guard, but the only way I could get comfortable with him is because I made him a friend, so it feels just like I am going somewhere with a friend. But when you give him the bodyguard title, I am like, "Uh that feels so superstar-ish."

 

Do you ever get the chance to explore the cities you travel to or is it all business?
Once I get there, I am working. But I will find a mall somewhere. I am always asking, "Where's the mall at?"