Jazz Singer Talks Mentor Prince & Making Her Mark In Music
“There was one point in my life where I was with another label, and they were trying to turn me into a hip hop artist, and throw out my piano and all all of that,” Springs told BOSSIP. “They’re like, people in this time and age won’t understand it. I said ‘That’s what they need!’ But between him and my father, they kept saying go back to that original Kandace, the jazz standards, the Duke Ellington.”
She added: “I would send Prince just little clips of me playing and singing, and he’s saying ‘That’s you right there!’ He said ‘Stay true to yourself. They’re gonna try to change you, Kandace. You need to go back to that.'”
BOSSIP caught up with the chanteuse after a powerhouse performance opening Grammy winner Gregory Porter’s Valentine’s Show Feb. 17 in New York City, where she wowed the sold-out crowd with her smooth vocals, virtuoso-level piano playing and playful stage presence.
Prince discovered Springs three years ago when her record label released a video of her singing Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.” Prince saw it, retweeted it, and called Springs’ label to invite her to open for him at his 2014 concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of “Purple Rain” at his Paisley Park compound outside of Minneapolis.
“It was cool,” Springs said. “We just stayed in touch since. We were really good friends. Last time I saw him was on my birthday last year. We mastered some stuff in the studio, and we went to see a movie.”
The night Prince died last April, Springs had to perform a set in Poole, England, and said although she “barely held it together,” she paid tribute to her mentor.
“He gave me a leather jacket, so I put it on, and they lit the stage purple which made it even harder,” Springs said. “Me and my band did ‘Beautiful Ones.'”
Following Prince’s passing, she’s released her second album, 2016’s “Soul Eyes,” and has been touring with Porter and performing around the world.
Springs got into music at a very young age growing up in Tennessee. Her father is a singer in Nashville, and has sung backup for Aretha Franklin, Brian McKnight, and country singers Garth Brooks Vince Gill. She grew up steeped in the music biz, accompanying her father to the studio and he was the one who encouraged her to pursue the piano and sing.
“My father is the root of everything that I have to this day,” she told BOSSIP. “Early on, he had me listening to Nina Simone and stuff like that. And we had this old piano in our house, and I started picking on it, and he said ‘Hey, you wanna get some lessons?’”
But it wasn’t until she heard Norah Jones 2002 album “Come Away With Me” as a 13-year-old that she realized her calling.
“It really moved me,” she said,” Springs said. “She’s young, she plays the piano. I can do that. And now, we’re label mates too.”
Springs’ music is definitely jazz, but with a huge helping of soul, thanks to her father’s upbringing in the Baptist Church. She cites iconic singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross and Sade as her influences.
“It’s all organic,” she said of her musical style. “No fake stuff.”
Photos By Mathieu Bitton