MEET THE BAND: Kandace Springs (vocals, piano)
ROOTS IN NASHVILLE: Inspired by her father, a Nashville-based soul singer who's worked with the likes of Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin, Springs began playing piano at age 10 and started singing at 13. "I wouldn't be playing music if it wasn't for my dad," she says. "He would take me into the studio with him. He's a wonderful singer who sounds like Marvin Gaye-meets-Stevie Wonder." She took classes at Nashville Jazz Workshop, the city's community center for jazz, and honed her chops there. At 17, she turned down a record deal because she felt like she wasn't ready yet. She worked as a valet and then graduated to playing the piano at a hotel lounge. "I did that for a while but realized I couldn't do that for a long time," she says of the experience. Springs counts Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack and Norah Jones as her heroes. Released in 2014, Springs' self-titled debut EP had a decidedly contemporary R&B/hip-hop bent and featured production by Pop & Oak (Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Miguel). In the wake of its release, Springs hit the festival circuit and performed at Afropunk and Bonnaroo.
PRETTY IN PURPLE: After hearing Springs' cover of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," the late Prince, who said Springs has a voice that can "melt snow," was so impressed that he invited Springs to perform at Paisley Park for the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain. "That came out of nowhere," she says. "Prince reached out to me via Twitter, and my team saw it, and we were freaking out. I started getting direct messages from him, and he asked me if I wanted to play with his band or my band. I was like, 'Of course, your band.'"
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HER: Her latest album, last year's Indigo, shows off Springs' stellar voice. She sounds particularly soulful on the woozy ballad "Breakdown," a tune that benefits from strings and choir-like backing vocals, and lets her voice shine on the sparse "68." The late Roy Hargrove makes an appearance on the jazzy "Unsophisticated," a gentle piano ballad about "taking it slow." Springs adopts a real swagger for the rollicking "Love Sucks" and trades vocals with her father, Scat Springs, on the album-closing "Simple Things." "We decided to try to use [producer] Karriem [Riggins] to change it up a little bit," she says. "It was really fun making it. Some of the songs go back to when I was 17." Springs says she's currently at work on her next album and plans to have some "big names" on it.
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HER: kandacesprings.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HER: Kandace Springs performs with Nathan-Paul & Theron Brown at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Music Box Supper Club.