Kandace Springs may not be a household name, but she was already gaining attention from fellow musicians such as Ghostface Killah and Prince before she ever released an album.
Springs is a 27-year-old soul singer from Nashville who’s been playing music since she was 10. She recently released her first full-length album, “Soul Eyes,” on Blue Note Records. The Frame’s James Kim spoke with the Nashville singer about the origin of her sound and how The Purple One himself helped get her start in the music industry.
On how she learned to play the piano:
My dad — without him I don't know where I'd be, to be honest — really encouraged me to get into music. And the way it worked out, one of his friends fell on hard times and she was being [evicted from] her house. She had this old upright piano that meant the world to her. She called my father, since we had room in our house, [saying], "Can you keep this piano for us?" I was about 10-years-old at the time, and he was like, "Alright, we'll take the piano."
We took it in and probably a couple days later I started picking on the piano. My dad was like, "Hey, you're pretty good." And he played a little ghetto version of "Moonlight Sonata" on it and I played it back. About 10 minutes later I was playing really fast. He was like, "That ain't normal! I'm gonna get you some lessons."
On finding her voice as a singer:
I probably started singing when I was about 13 or 14. But I didn't want to sing, I just wanted to be a piano player. My dad would call me and my sisters down in the room and would force us to sing and we would cry. [laughs] We would sing church hymns and stuff like that.
My dad had me listening to Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone. So I would take all of those soulful and original sounding tones and I've developed my own sound. My dad was like, "You don't sound like anybody else." And eventually Prince was saying the same thing to me, too.
On her first time meeting Prince:
Prince came into my life about two years ago. We had put up a video — it was when Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" was a big hit. We put [my cover version] up online and Okayplayer decided to premiere it on their page. Apparently, Prince likes to follow them and then he directly hit me up on social media.
Of course, I didn't believe it at first, and then he said, "All of your dreams are about to come true. You wanna come play with my band?" And then Capitol Records calls an hour later and said, "Prince just called us," and then literally, they were like, "He wants you to come play for his 30th 'Purple Rain' anniversary."
So I'm on an airplane three days later and I meet him the day of [the show]. I forgot how short he actually was, so the door opens, I'm looking straight ahead, and then I realize I have to look down and there he is.
On Prince's fashion tips:
When I was about to perform that evening, I wanted to make sure that I looked good. So I put on this crop top and tight jeans, and he comes up to me and he's like, "Um, you're not gonna wear that. Just come upstairs, I have something for you to wear." So I go upstairs and he picks out this beautiful leather jacket, it's custom made. I wore it, closed the show, gave it back to him. I said, "Here's the jacket," and he said, "Nah, you can keep it." So I still have it to this day and I'm too scared to take it anywhere because it means so much.
On the inspiring words from her father and Prince:
Prince said to always be true to who I am [because] at some point in life, somebody will try to change who you are. That's one thing Prince and my father said: Know who you are. Be who you are.
Kandace Springs' debut full-length album, "Soul Eyes," is out now.