When you’re a new artist breaking into the business, you hope to one day get a chance to work with your idols. Well, how does one progress when they’ve worked with their idol before anyone even knows their name? Such has been the case for powerhouse singer LiV Warfield. She released her Sade-inspired debut “Embrace Me” in 2006 and it didn’t yield the recognition Warfield was looking for, but that could be because she was still uncertain of her God given talents. That is until she met Prince and he asked her to join his New Power Generation collective.
Upon entering Prince’s exclusive circle, LiV discovered a boldness inside of herself that she always knew was there, but remained elusive in previous years. During her time with the Purple One, Warfield got herself together and honed her stage performance, writing, and arranging of music. And when it was time, the powerful songbird flew from Prince’s nest to spread her wings.
The spreading of LiV’s wings comes in the form of her second album “The Unexpected.” It features an intoxicating blend of soul, funk, rock, and all of the good stuff in between. When the VH1 You Oughta Know artist spoke to The Urban Daily, she opened up about how Portland, Oregon pushed her into becoming a performer, what working with Prince has taught her about herself, and why she is really the unexpected.
Get familiar with LiV Warfield’s brand of soul.
TUD: Tell me about your album. Why did you name it “The Unexpected”?
LW: Well, my journey has been very much that–the unexpected. I started out as an athlete first. I discovered my music later on. I was 20 years old. I went from karaoke to singing with Hip-Hop bands to Portland embracing me and wanting me to do my own thing. And now to be working with Prince, it has been an unexpected journey.
I’ve fallen, I’ve gotten back up. I’ve wanted to quit and when I wanted to quit, Prince and the New Power Generation came up. Actually, it’s not so much as it being unexpected as much as it is God.
I just don’t want to be categorized or anything. So when you listen to the album, people want to put it in an R&B perspective and I don’t want to really have that category. I do have that rock influence, of course with being around Prince. [laughs] I love rock ‘n’ roll. I also love R&B. I just want people to listen to it and say, “Oh wow! I didn’t know she was gonna have that on the album!”
So it was all of those things–my journey, the songs. I don’t want people to expect anything. I just want them to listen to it an enjoy good music.
What did working with Prince professionally teach you about yourself personally?
To take chances. I was very scared. Before I joined the New Power Generation I thought I was an okay singer. I thought I knew what I was doing. [laughs] not until I got with the New Power Generation, I was like, “Okay, this is like a whole ‘nother world. You need to be a better writer, arranger, and be bolder!” He’s taught me all of those things which I feel like I’ve taken and put it in my album.
I reached out to him a year ago and at that time, I was like, “I have to be fearless. Just go with it and it’s gonna be okay.” Of course, being around him, you can’t help but to pick up his energy. You can’t help but to learn from him. Performing with him onstage is quite incredible.
So he taught me how to be a better writer and arranger. He also taught me to really be bold with it which I was trying to accomplish for myself on this album.
You were a part of the Portland music scene. What is that like? There’s a soul music scene in Portland?
Portland is pretty incredible. When people say Portland, I don’t even know what they expect. [laughs] Portland is a melting pot for a lot of different things. A lot of the people I know there are transplants. I come from Illinois and I feel like I brought a little piece of me when I went to Portland. There are a lot of people from down south who live in Portland. So to me, all of those sounds and influences have created a pretty incredible music scene in Portland. It’s incredible.
The video you did for “Why Do a You Lie?” gave me a Tina Turner vibe. Is she one of your influences?
Very much so after I started to discover the bold side of me. Like, before, my first album was called “Embrace Me” and that was very Sade influenced. Then I started getting this batons Turner music because I love a heavy guitar riff. I just like the gutsiness of singing and just going for it and being in your face sometimes. Sometimes, it be like that and other times you wanna be sweet and pretty, too.
What’s the difference between the LiV Warfield of the time during “Embrace Me” and “The Unexpected” LiV Warfield?
She’s grown so much. It really comes down to the boldness of it. With “Embrace Me,” I just wanted people to embrace who I was as an artist. Those were the first songs I had written and I was putting it out into the world to see if anybody liked it or not. Now, it’s like here it is. I’m gonna do it the way I want to. And this is really me.
I wasn’t as involved as I wanted to be with “Embrace Me.” But on this album I was involved in every aspect of writing, arranging, and the general construction of it.
How did you come to be a VH1 ‘You Oughta Know’ artist?
Rick Krim. He’s such a blessing. He heard “Why Do You Lie?” And got the video. I was so excited to learn that I was a “You Oughta Know” artist because I used to sit home and see them and say, “I wanna do that!” You spend all of this time visualizing something and then when it actually happens, it’s a beautiful thing.
VH1 has been very instrumental in pushing my music out. I like that because they do support the independent artists or artists who are just trying to come up. It’s already hard enough to get the music heard as an independent, but for a big program like that to pick me up and to get behind my project is quite beautiful for me. So I’m thankful.
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