Even for seasoned singers, being compared to the likes of supreme vocalists Whitney Houston and Kim Burrell can be a dangerous pressure. But, for ‘Sunday Best’ season 2 finalist Latice Crawford, the pressure was not only expected, it was welcomed.
With magnetic melisma, spirited growls, and a spirit-stirring message in tow, this beauty is a pressing reminder that big things do come in small packages. Chatting exclusively to That Grape Juice, Crawford dished on her debut album (in stores now), its energetic lead single ‘There’, and so much more.
We were so excited to finally sit down with the budding gospel diva. And, after one look and listen, you’ll see why:
That Grape Juice: Thanks for taking the time Latice! We’re loving ‘There’. Tell us why you felt that song was the best option to kick off your debut album?
Latice: You’re welcome and thank YOU so much! I knew that “There” would be the single the first time I heard it. I wanted to start off with something totally different from what people remembered me by from BET’s ‘Sunday Best’. I wanted a song that would show that there was so much more to me and my voice.
“There” was very true to what I was experiencing at the time I recorded it. I wanted people to know that God was always there but also that God could place people there to help you through times of distress.
TGJ: Tell us about the sonic direction of your album overall (i.e. producers, genres, etc)?
Latice: I have a very KINGDOM kind of ministry. I’m not just talking to the people in the four walls of the church, I’m talking to all that reverence God (the big G.O.D).
I wanted the album to express a relationship with Him and not just religious practices so I tried to write songs that would talk about experience. I am blessed to have worked with some really great producers like Bruce Robinson (Fantasia, Justin Bieber) and Motesart who know and understand what I do. So, our connection in the studio was like Brandy and Rodney Jerkins’ or Clive [Davis] and Whitney Houston’s.
TGJ: When fans listen to your music, how are you hoping they walk away feeling?
Latice: I really want my supporters to know that I’m a real person. I go through real things but I walk what I sing and talk. After hearing my music, I want them to feel happy and delivered out of whatever it is they’re going through.
TGJ: What other songs are being lined up as potential singles?
Latice: We’ve been looking at “Through It All” and “Joshua’s Anthem”, but I really love my entire album so much, so it’s hard to make a final decision.
TGJ: If you had to pick only one, though, what would you say is your favorite song on the album and why?
Latice: I can’t pick just one (laughs). I have a few, but not just because I wrote seven of them (laughs).
“Joshua’s Anthem” is one because it’s the story of my son Joshua and his significance to my husband and I in comparison to the Joshua in the Bible. “Break Loose” is another favorite because it’s big and loud—just like my personality. “You Should Know By Now” is also another favorite because while everyone compares me to Whitney Houston, I think I’m really more Tina Turner.
I think fans will make that connection after hearing the energetic track.
TGJ: We’ve heard them both and we agree with your assessment. But, being dubbed the ‘Whitney Houston of gospel’ is such a big feat. As this month marked two years since her untimely passing, share with us the influence she had on your career.
Latice: Since I was a kid people have been telling me that I looked like Whitney and I was really sad when I heard she passed. Whitney had a beautiful gift and made some of the greatest music ever. Whitney was Whitney, true to herself at ALL TIMES and she ALWAYS made a song hers.
I really try to embody that!
TGJ: And, we see you do that very well. It’s so refreshing to see a gospel singer be so fashion forward and even daring without compromising the ministry.
When we look at gospel stars like you and Erica Campbell pushing the fashion envelope in gospel, do you feel that sometimes people overreact when they see you do things like rock the shaven look or wear tighter clothing?
Latice: I haven’t really gotten any push back. I’m me, Latice! I like to look like me and I’m not trying to be fashion forward, I’m just trying to be myself and I wear what I like.
My hair has been short for years, but my more recent bald head isn’t a fashion statement as much as it was a deal I made with a breast cancer survivor I met in the airport. She complimented me for being brave to wear a short cut and explained how embarrassed she was when she lost her hair due to chemo. This woman had a double mastectomy and her husband left because he no longer found her attractive.
So I told her as soon as I got home I’d shave my head bald to make a statement that you are not what you’re going through and that her bald can be beautiful.
TGJ: Wow, now that’s a powerful story! We’re sure the upcoming ‘Sunday Best’ hopefuls could learn a thing or two from you when it comes to remaining humble. With auditions coming very soon, do you have any advice for them?
Latice: I’d say be who you are, sing like yourself, and don’t be ashamed of your story. Because people can tell when you’re being fake, so make sure that the spotlight is really what you want because it comes quick and with a lot of responsibility. Even if you don’t win don’t let it stop you.
Use me as an example, losing can help you win and maybe you’ll get a husband out of the show like I did (laughs).
TGJ: Awesome advice. Now, to round things out, we’d like to play a game called “what, who, and why”. Are you ready?
TGJ: What’s one song (by another artist) that you love and wish you’d recorded first?
Latice: Cher‘s “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me”.
Latice: I love that song because it speaks about a person that looks like they’re losing but, she’s proclaiming that she hasn’t gone anywhere and that you’ll see her again. After ‘Sunday Best’ people would always ask “where are you”, “why don’t we see you”, or say that I “fell off”. I’m here, I’m not going anywhere!
TGJ: If you could do a duet with one other ‘Sunday Best’ finalist, who would it be? Why?
Latice: I’d love to do a duet with that fine chocolate brother, Jeff Spain from season 2 (my husband)! He is my prize from ‘Sunday Best’ and marriage is the best contract I’ve ever signed.
I always think it’s great when your partner understands what you do. Plus, my husband is also an amazing singer and songwriter.
TGJ: Lastly, what’s the biggest misconception about you?
Latice: The biggest misconception about me is that singing or a music career was always my dream and it really wasn’t.
TGJ: Really? Do tell.
Latice: I never imagined myself doing this, but I’m so grateful God knows better than me.
I’m so thankful to my brother in law, Rasahn Staley, who encouraged me to audition for Sunday Best, and Jeff Grant and everyone at my label RCA Inspiration for believing in me.
I’m truly blessed and I want others to know it’s never to late to create a new dream. If we do our part…God will bless the rest and do His.
To round it out, tell us: what does Latice Crawford bring to the game that no one else is bringing right now?
Latice: Well I think the obvious thing would be that I’m just about bald (laughs). Other than that, I’d say my musical approach and the way I interpret a song are unique to gospel.
Interview by: Rashad Taylor (That Grape Juice US)