When Prince asks you to close his 30th anniversary show for Purple Rain, it's kind of a big deal. So you can imagine why we're supremely impressed by Nashville native Kandace Springs. After His Royal Badness heard her soulful cover of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," he contacted her manager and promptly flew her out to Minneapolis, MN, where he was on tour with his band, 3rdEyeGirl. "He's a buddy of mine now—we talk a few times a week," Springs told InStyle.
The newly-minted friendship is pretty much all it took to put the new-age jazz songstress on the proverbial map (and rightfully so). Following her performance, the 25-year-old, who counts Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and, yes, The Artist Formerly Known As, among her influences, released a four-track EP. This month, she kicks off a tour alongside Ne-Yo and Chance the Rapper, and has a full-length debut album in the pipeline (out this spring under Blue Note/Capitol Records). And it's no wonder why: Springs's unique brand of modern soul is a lot of what's missing on the charts today. With tinges of Lauryn Hill and Norah Jones, but also an unmistakable, quintessentially southern twang that could only come from growing up in Nashville, she has an inimitable vocal style. We caught up with the artist before her jam-packed EP release party at The Box in N.Y.C. Here are a few fun snippets from our chat:
What was it like growing up in Nashville?
It was great—very music-centric. There was a lot of country—Faith Hill, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks—but the music scene is starting to develop more and reach other genres, which is great. My dad's one of the few soul singers there so he influenced me a lot. He used to give me Roberta Flack CDs when I was little.
You pretty much radiate the '70s. What was it about that era that sparked your interest?
The fashion, for sure. I try to emulate it every day, but give it a modern bent. I call it high-fashion meets urban hip-hop. I'll rock a designer dress, gold chains, Converse, and Timberlands. I think it reflects my music, because I'm a soulful singer, but we have a gritty, urban beat in the background.
And then there's your hairstyle, of course. How do you maintain that afro?
It's not that hard, honestly. I wash it every few days, wet it, wash it, shake it out, and blow it out.
What products do you use?
Have you always had an afro?
I had one when I was a kid. I used to wear braids a lot, and when I took them out, my hair was this extra puffy, huge afro. I took a picture and sent it to my producer, and he was like, "Hey, that's the shit!" So I stuck with it. And then I eventually got it shaped with Tippi Shorter, who's Alicia Keys's hairdresser.
Do you think you and Solange are capable of bringing the afro back?
Absolutely. All my friends are saying that they want to wear their hair natural now because of me, and that's so empowering. Together, we could reach a lot of people.
Listen to “Love Got In The Way” below, and download Springs's EP now from the iTunes Store.