Exclusive Video Premiere: Ledisi’s Acoustic ‘Rock With You’



Courtesy of Verve

Ledisi soundtracked one of 2014’s definitive cinematic moments: Acting as Gospel great Mahalia Jackson in Selma, she sings “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” to David Oyelowo, who plays Dr. Martin Luther King.

Now, Billboard is premiering a new video from the singer — an acoustic in-studio performance of “Rock With You,” which originally appeared on Ledisi’s 2014 album Truth. Check it out below:

Although Ledisi’s track shares a title with Michael Jackson’s 1979 hit, this is a raw, funky original. Ledisi moves easily between smooth vocal runs on the verses and explosive ad-libs on the hook; at one point, she starts scat-singing. She works with minimal accompaniment — jagged acoustic guitar and firm bass — which is all she needs to deliver a heavy dose of groove. This stripped-down version of the track came out on The Intimate Truth, an acoustic EP released in January which reworked songs from her last album.

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The video, directed by Ron T. Young, suggests that Ledisi is in full control when she’s recording. She tells Billboard that the clip “shows who I am as a live performer and how I record in the studio without direction from a producer.” Like all the R&B greats, she has a strong rapport with her band. Ledisi and Young wanted to “capture the essence of how it feels when musicians and artists interact in the studio.”

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Toward the end of the performance, a grinning Ledisi asks her band, “Y’all feel like stopping?” The song comes to a close not long after. You’ll wish it didn’t.