Letitia VanSant (pronounced “Leh-TISH-ah”) is a rising star on the Country / Americana firmament.
With her personal and political lyrics, combined with her distinctly intimate vocal style she reaches the hearts of many music lovers on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Recently she released a beautiful new album called “Circadian”.
Why country music ?
~ I love that country music keeps things simple and sincere. I aspire to write as concisely as someone like Hank Williams.
If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which two people should sing the ultimate country duet?
~ How about Cary Ann Hearst and Iris Dement?
If you were able to send one short message to everyone in the world, what would that message be?
~ The more you can practice respecting and loving yourself in a deep and genuine way, the more you will be able to understand other people, and the more the world will open up its wonders to you.
Who would you like to write a song for you?
~ Ben Shannon (a friend and one of my favorite lesser-known singer-songwriters).
What is the one thing that readers/fans would be surprised to know about you?
~ I used to work at a lobby group in Washington, D.C. that worked on peace and social justice issues.
What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and…you wish they would?
~ In general, I feel like I have more interesting things to say about the content of my songs rather than the process of writing, recording, or my influences.
For instance, on my most recent record, the song “Tin Man” is about how American culture’s notions of masculinity make it difficult for men to connect with others, and as a result a lot of guys are very lonely.
Who do you consider the most inspiring person of all time and can you tell us why?
~ That is a very tough question, but I think Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer should be on the list. They were both leaders in the civil rights movement and mentors to many young activists, and were tremendously brave in the face of sexism both within and outside the movement, as well as violence from white supremacists. They had important lessons to teach about resilience and about building deep relationships with other people.
Johnny or June ?
~ Why choose? Both incredibly moving singers.
Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any “rituals” to calm you nerves.
~ Yes, sometimes I am. I was painfully shy and played guitar and wrote songs for about 10 years before anyone knew that I did, and the first few times I ever played on a stage my knees were shaking. Nowadays it’s not nearly so bad, but I try to build a practice of writing affirmations; that even if the audience isn’t receptive, it does not diminish the value of what I have to offer.
I know it’s hard to choose but what should come first in your work, the lyrics or the music?
~ While the lyrics are the most important part for me, I generally have to start with the groove and the melody for a hook, and then fill in the words. I’ve come to believe that no one will listen to your words if they don’t like the music, so that has to come first!