La’Porsha Renae Opens Up About ‘Already All Ready’ and Lessons Learned on ‘American Idol’
La'Porsha Renae isn't only a talented artist, but she's also a fighter.
Not only was she determined to get on American Idol, despite not making it the first time she auditioned, but she also opened up to viewers about leaving an abusive relationship and raising her daughter as a single mom. Her poise, grace and that amazing set of pipes took her from American Idol contestant to soulful superstar.
"I learned how many I touched and inspired through the journey of Idol," Renae tells PopCrush, "because I was just singing on the show. I wasn't really being an advocate for anything. But that naturally formed when I shared my story with America. So I learned that it was more than just about singing. I was given [and] blessed enough to have a platform, and I wanted to use it to promote something positive and a positive message to people."
Set to release her debut album, Already All Ready, today (March 31), we had the chance to get to know her more and learn about the album. Read the interview below, and watch the video for "What Is Love," premiering exclusively on PopCrush today.
Can you talk about the first time you remember just singing a tune or the first musical memories?
First time I sang, I was singing Alicia Keys, in the bathroom of my mom's beauty shop. I was six.
You first auditioned for American Idol when you were 16. You didn't get in, and then you ended up auditioning again for the final season. Take us back to that time to that first audition. What did you learn from that experience and what made you want to come back again?
Well, the first time I auditioned I was just trying to, I guess, just trying out something new and I knew I wanted to sing but it really didn't hold any weight. The second time I auditioned, it was a little bit different and I had a different reason. I was auditioning to provide for my daughter so it was really different than the first time. I think it was better, yeah.
You got on the show and made it to the finals. Going through that entire experience, how did it feel?
Right. It was a surreal feeling and it was a blessing. I felt very honored and privileged, me and Trent [Harmon] both, we were just really thankful and proud. We were thankful to our fans for getting us to the top two slots. We were also proud to be Mississippi natives in the top two spots of the finals in American Idol. It meant a lot to us.
What did you learn from American Idol?
I learned that sometimes our struggles are a little bit bigger than us and talking about them and coming through and having the courage to get out of them. I learned how many people I touched and inspired through the journey of Idol, because I was just singing on the show, I wasn't really trying to be an advocate for anything but that naturally formed when I shared my story with America. I learned that it was more than just about singing, I was blessed enough to have a platform and I wanted to use it to promote something positive and a positive message.
Looking back on all of the performances you've had, which stands out the most?
The most stand out was probably "Diamonds," and the reason it was the most stand out was because it was one of my laid back songs. The reaction that I got from "Diamonds" I would have expected to get from "House of the Rising Sun" or one of the other songs. "Come Together" maybe but "Diamonds" was such a subtle song and I was like "I don't have time to put anything dancy together, let me just go out there and sing this song" and I went into like, a meditation space that night. It was just real cerene. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most powerful provoking performances for me. I was blown away.
Now onto your new music, you have already coming out soon but let's talk about "What is Love". What is that song about?
"What is Love" is the first track on the album, and it's a young girl at heart and it's just questioning what is love supposed to be? What is relationships and all of that supposed to be? Because A lot of people have different views and different perceptions of what love really is and what a relationship is supposed to consist of. It's just a young girl asking what is love? And saying that she's failed some attempts to be in love. It's kind of just - like that question that all of us ask at one point or another time. When things don't work out the way we expect tem to.
You worked with Harmony Samuels and "What Is Love" is his favorite song on the record because he wanted to do something very Tina Turner-esque as far as songs go. First, how does it feel to kind of be put into that same box as Tina Turner? And then on top of that, how did you get into the headspace?
It feels really nice to be put into that category and that's one thing that I did try to do. I tried to channel a lot of my influences. Growing up Tina Turner was definitely one of my influences and um, I take things from different artists and I put them in my music and I put them in my persona and my - they help me form into the artist that I am, so - for people to actually hear that come through the music is exciting. I definitely channeled Tina. I just went and thought about her performances. Growing up, I studied the greats. I mean videos, concerts, interviews even. I just wanted to know and educate myself on their journey and path and stuff. That kind of helped shape me so it wasn't really hard to get into the headspace of Tina and the studio. Yeah - it was real fun.
Speaking of studio moments, what was the most memorable one you had recording Already All Ready?
I think the most memorable song I recorded in the studio was... Oh that's hard because all of them have great memories. I'll say "Hideout." That was very memorable to me because I broke down into tears and I kind of channeled sort of what I channeled on the show when I did "No More Drama." I channeled that into "Hideout" because it's a song talking about leaving whatever's hurting. So, it's really yeah. That would be one of the many great memories of the studio I have bunches though, that's the one.
You have a lot of very empowering songs like "Good Woman." And now with equality and women's rights still being issues we deal with today, how do you think your album inspires people?
My music I feel like can empower women from within. That's where it starts. No one is going to respect you if you don't respect yourself. No one is going to love you if you don't love yourself first. No one is going to believe in you f you don't believe in yourself first. I think the biggest thing for women is to acknowledge their self worth. And then, um, it kind of shines through and make others acknowledge that as well and we have to, you know, sort of demand respect and demand appreciation and all of that. So my music, it's really just talking to women and hitting different spots of being a woman. You have different, no one song is the same. Every song is talking about something different that can relate to a woman and maybe empower her in a area of her life that she's not feeling so tall on or so big. So hopefully women will take, is that empowerment aspect and knowing that they're appreciated and valuable.
But I didn't want to just [add] this album wasn't just for women. It was for kids, it's for men, it's for everybody. On a bigger spectrum I wanted everybody to be able to be inspired and have an aspiration.
What's next for you?
Yeah, but I can't talk about that right now because I don’t know the details. But yeah, there is a lot in the mix.
Already All Ready is out today.
As told to Emily Tan.