When unbridled talent is given a free range of growth, the distance between ingenuity and a tangible outcome is shortened by the eruption of one’s relentless dedication. LeToya Luckett may be a former member of Destiny’s Child, but when it comes to her music, her career, and her effortless talent, she continues to prove to the world with every endeavor, that she’ll remain a child of her own destiny who’s on a journey to arrive at a celebrated level stardom.
The H-Town Chick, as the world so cleverly calls her, is back from a short break in the industry after the release of her platinum debut, LeToya in 2006. Her first album, which spawned such hits as Torn, She Don’t, and Obvious, helped her to break away from the ills in her Destiny’s Child past, and make a positive new name for herself as one of the Best New Artists of that year.
For her second turn at bat, she presents to the world, Lady Love, a collection of ballads, uptempo classics, heartbreaker themes, and infectious anthems that all read like the whispers from her personal diary slowly grazing the surface of steady yet fascinating beat. With the release of her first two singles, Not Anymore and She Ain’t Got, Luckett is carefully testing her limits as a singer but also quickly reminding us of the beauty that attaches itself to an artist who is in control of their invaluable instrument. By exploring new directions with her music, and stepping carefully out of her comfort zone, Luckett is poised to stay relevant with the times and the industry, by offering an album that’s both timeless and on time for its audience.
Aside from her well respected position as being a permanent fixture in the songwriting world and as a vocalist extraordinaire, Luckett has been fortunate enough to explore a world of endless opportunities and has now opened a new doorway towards the acting world, where she hopes to garner the same success.
With Lady Love, set for release August 25th, and a starring role in her new film Preachers Kid, which is due in theaters this October, Luckett is taking 2009 by storm while capturing a myriad of colorful rainbows that only come when you can conquer the world that resides in between each raindrop.
Clutch: Everyone is so caught up in the Destiny’s Child questions, Slim Thug rumors, and other issues that are long behind you as you grow as both a person and an artist. Let’s get to know the LeToya Luckett today. What have you been doing since you released your first solo album in 2006?
LeToya Luckett: A whole lot. I’ve done a lot of writing, especially with the Lady Love album. Just trying to grow as a person and an entertainer and learning a lot about this industry. It’s forever changing and trying to keep up with it is a handful. As you guys know, people always question, ‘Why did it take so long in between [albums]. Why this, Why that?’ Well, I got caught up in a merger between Capitol Records and Virgin Records and at that time with mergers you can’t really make any moves as an artist. You can’t release any material until there’s people put in place to do so. So while that was going on, I was doing a lot of writing like I said before, and I still got the chance to go in and work with producers and things like that. I opened up another Lady L Boutique in the Galleria Mall in my hometown of Houston, Texas. I did two movies in between that, one being The Preachers Kid and the other one being 5 Killers starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. Just working. Still traveling. I went to LA for a minute to work with an acting coach. Just growing and loving life.
Clutch: The world is already in love with your First single written by Neyo – Not Anymore. What is the tone of this new album and its tracks and what sets it apart from the first album?
LeToya Luckett: It’s different. It’s a lot different actually. Like She Ain’t Got… for instance. I don’t know if I would’ve been in a place to do that record on the last album. I probably would’ve been scared of it like, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy. It’s so bad.’ I’m talking about stepping on home girls neck and I wouldn’t do that, even though I still wouldn’t do that now. But, I’m taking chances, trying things, and I’m having fun. I’m finally having fun. There’s a lot of mid tempo ballads on this record. It’s all about love; the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the being single, the dealing with being single- It’s all of those different things. All of those are emotions I was going through since my last release.
Clutch: With most of the tracks centered on the themes of love and heartbreak, were there any specific messages you were trying to send to your listeners that is indirectly speaking on your own personal experience?
LeToya Luckett: Yeah, my thing is this, love is something we all want, something we all fight for, but it’s a hard thing to keep or let go of. It has all those different emotions. If you’re in love with somebody, you sometimes give yourself or sacrifice yourself for this other person because you love them so much. Then when you’re out of love, you miss love, you want that affection, you want somebody around who loves you just as much as you love them- it’s all of those different things. Love is just complicated, but it feels good.
Clutch: Who are you currently listening to, that inspires you when you’re writing your own songs?
LeToya Luckett: Oh my God, I’ve always listened to Gladys Knight, Michael Jackson, of course, Sade’, Anita Baker and Luther. Those are my biggest influences.
Clutch: I love the idea of the fan participation in choosing your second single. With the industry already being overwhelmed by a plethora of female artists, how will you work to stay on top of the industry and continue to be a leader?
LeToya Luckett: It’s about getting up for work, every single day, and doing what you can do. Whatever you put into it, I believe that’s what you’ll get out of it. I’m a workaholic. I don’t stop. It’s hard keeping up with the different trends that come out day to day, or minute by minute. It’s just crazy. It’s forever changing. That’s what you have to do though. You have to work. You have to work hard at it too. You can’t be lazy in this industry at all.
Clutch: Now with the new single She Ain’t Got… you stepped out from behind both the microphone and the screen to personally edit your music video. Why?
LeToya Luckett: Well, the first couple of edits I was unhappy with. They were still trying to release it so I told my label, ‘Look, I’m either going to do this myself or we’re re-shooting.’ So, I just took a flight to LA and did it myself. It was the best thing I could’ve ever done and I will to continue to do it. I loved being in that room and going through the different shots we had done and somehow creating a story. Since I did do the treatment for it, it only made sense for me to be in the editing room anyway to tell my story. It was so much fun. I love it.
Clutch: Most artists are multifaceted, you being a prime example, how did your passion for singing and songwriting lead you down the avenue to pursue an acting career?
LeToya Luckett: I’ve always wanted to be an actress as well. I found myself doing a lot of musicals when I was in middle school and elementary school. When doing those plays you had to do both acting and singing. But of course once I got in Destiny’s Child, the group was the main focus, so all my time went into making sure we were all right, we were straight, and we were practicing and all those different things. Soon after that, the solo album came out. I finally found the time, and I guess God does everything for a reason. When the merger was going on I knew that I could do it now. So I went, got with my agent, got with an acting coach and hey, here we are today.
Clutch: Now there are some actors that frown upon singers that take the leap into the acting world because they feel they are receiving roles based solely on their popularity rather than their actual talent. How are you working to make your acting abilities as effortless as your singing talent so that Hollywood and your audience will both respect and take your transition serious?
LeToya Luckett: Yeah, I’ve been hearing a lot about that. It’s one of those things where – For one, I would frown upon it too if the person wasn’t working hard, sitting down with a coach, studying the craft and putting in as much work as someone that came into the industry that people only know as an actor. That’s the only difference. If you come in and you’re studying the craft just like someone people only know as an actor, if you’re working hard, knowing your lines, showing up on time, it is what it is. That’s what I’m doing. I’m taking it serious because this is something I wanted to do. I came on the scene as a singer and an artist, so that’s what people know me as, but that doesn’t say that I didn’t do acting before singing. So people can frown, but whatever God has for you is what God has for you. I work just as hard as anybody else.
Clutch: I understand that completely. People have to understand that just because you’re a singer doesn’t mean your fingers are broken and you can’t do anything else.
LeToya Luckett: Right, exactly. [Laughs] It’s like, is that the only thing I can do? People can do two or three things at one time. I think some people might think that, oh, it’s because of popularity or whatever. But if that played a part then that’s not on the actor. It’s not the actor’s decision. If you get cast for the role, you get cast for the role. Every role that I’ve gotten is because I went to the audition, I went to the callback, I went to the reading, I went through all of the protocol and all of the steps in getting that role just like every other actress that was in the audition room. So, they don’t play favorites in my experience. It’s always been about if you have what they’re looking for when you walk in that room, if you portrayed that character the way they wanted it to be portrayed, then you got the role or you don’t have the role. So, that’s my two cents.
Clutch: What was it like working on 5 Killers with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, and tell me about your lead role in the upcoming release Preachers Kid?
LeToya Luckett: Oh man, working with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl- first of all, I have the highest respect for them. I see the way they work, I see the way they’re in there for long hours. Sometimes scenes might change even though you learned the script, but when you get on set it could be something totally different. That was a good learning experience for me. I was happy to just be apart of that and to be a fly on the wall. I will definitely take that experience with me. They were very nice people, very very nice. Everybody was just very respectful. There was no Hollywood extra stuff or whatever. Ashton even bought the whole crew smoothies. I think that was my favorite part of the whole thing. [Laughs] I think he went to Smoothie Planet and he had like those guys that dress up as a smoothie cup- the smoothie mascot out there, everything. It was so great and so thoughtful of him.
With Preachers Kid, that was my first movie. In fact when I first got to LA that was one of the first auditions I went on and got cast for another role in it, but four days before shooting, they threw me into the lead role. I had a lot of learning to do, a lot of adjusting. I was double time with my acting coach just so I could get it because I wanted it so bad, you know? Even though I didn’t have as much time as the other actors, I still went in there and did the best that I could and I hope that people will love it just as much as I loved shooting it. It’s a great movie. It’s a family movie.
Clutch: When can we see this movie?
LeToya Luckett: October 30th, it will be on the big screen.
Clutch: Now you acted in the nationwide stage play Rumors by JD Lawrence, what was the hardest adjustment for you when it came to acting on screen versus acting on stage?
LeToya Luckett: I thank God that I went on that play. It’s crazy because the movie is based around a gospel stage play, which is what I went on with Rumors since it is also a gospel stage play. That definitely helped me with the role. People need to see what happens behind the scenes because it’s way more interesting than what’s going on up on the stage. The difference in the two- with plays it’s a little bit more difficult. Once you’re on stage, it’s live. You can’t go back and say, ‘Let’s cut that again,’ ‘lighting was off,’ or ‘she said the script the wrong way,’ or ‘she said a line the wrong way,’ or ‘she missed her line’ and this and this. No, you get one time because it’s a live show. It did help me as far as on the acting side with being able to get into that character and as far as with my being a musician, being able to switch in and out of that performer for when it came to time sing, and back into that character when the song was over. It was great practice.
Clutch: How is Lady L Boutique doing since you first opened up in 2006?
LeToya Luckett: We’re doing pretty good. With the recession and all we’re trying to find different ways to keep our customers excited and to learn different ways to market the store, have new products and offer lots of sales.
Clutch: You are such an admirable woman because you continually challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and explore every opportunity in the industry that there is. What is up next for you aside from your anticipated release dates?
LeToya Luckett: Hopefully more movies, a tour which I hope will be in the works really soon. I refuse to go on tour this time around without a band. I only got the chance to perform with a band on TV shows. I definitely want to work with a band. I think I’m going to come out with a line. Not necessarily a clothing line, but something special and unique.
Clutch: Much like the sweet lullaby’s you deliver so purely in your albums, is love in the cards for you one day, or at this moment are you solely focused on your amazing career?
LeToya Luckett: Hopefully there’s love in the cards. [Laughs] Love in the cards please, just let him be right. [Laughs]. He’s got to be right though. I’ll wait on the right one. Right now though, it’s my career. But if love decides to come my way, I’ll be here. Everyone wants to be loved.
Clutch: I’m sure you get asked the same questions all the time, so I know sometimes there may be a statement you care to make that no one ever touches on. Is there anything you would like to leave our readers with, that is unique to this particular interview.
LeToya Luckett: That’s a great question. I want to thank everyone who is seeing me for who I am and getting to know Letoya instead of all my other nicknames, ‘The Former Member,’ ‘The Girlfriend of,” ‘The Former Girlfriend of,’ you know what I mean? I am glad people are starting to get to know me and are taking an interest into knowing who Letoya is and getting to know my music. I am finally starting to stand out from the crowd and I’m loving every moment of it.