Liv Warfield is living a rollercoaster – but it’s all good. The stylish songstress, a Peoria, IL.native turned Portland gal is an admirable example of what dreams are made of. From singing karaoke and making her debut album, 2006′s Embrace Me, to traveling the world at the drop of a dime to accompany Prince, the artist of all artist, on tours as part of his New Power Generation Band, her journey, with all if it’s ups and downs, has been … “It’s hard to put into words because it’s so many things,” she expresses during out chat at Chicago’s W Hotel. “It’s amazing, it’s just …unreal sometimes and I have to pinch myself like, oh my God I’m really in this situation, you know?”
A fearless performer, Liv is here in Chicago with Prince and NPG as part of his ‘Welcome 2 Chicago Tour’ at the United Center. The event is set to deliver three nights – September 24-26- of unpredictable high energy and amazing music. (Check the video following the interview for details!)
Here, Liv dishes on her artist journey, working with Prince and Rebuild The Dream, a community organization where she serves as the spokesperson for Prince and NPG.
I revisited your 2006 album, Embrace Me, and was able to really get a feel for you, your voice and your music. Coming from the Midwest, going to Portland – doing Karaoke there, and on to the “Purple Stage” with Prince … what has the journey been and how have you evolved musically?
Liv: (Laughing) It’s crazy right!? I can tell you the journey … first I have to thank GOD, it’s been a blessing. I’ve always been one to just kind of go for it. Prime example, soon as I got to Portland, two weeks I jumped out of an airplane – sky diving. So I look at life sometimes as taking chances and this journey … I’ve had my ups and downs, I’ve learned my lessons. It hasn’t all been … beautiful. But the experience, all the parts that didn’t work made me want to keep going. Some of my bad experiences happened after my first album, Embrace Me, I kind of fell off a little bit, fell short and kind of didn’t know if I wanted to sing anymore and by the grace of God, I got a call from a lady who was in the band (Prince’s band) …
Marva King …?
Liv: Yes! Marva King, and she was like Prince is looking for a singer and I’m like … uh, yeah right. I’ll just send my stuff and you know …this is Prince! I’ll let it go and just keep focusing on what I’m doing – singing and working on new music. Actually trying to work on the next record but I put that one on hold. So I get the call and I’m like, this is not happening right now. So, I went to Paisley and I met him and I just … felt like I was dreaming. I’m like, ok, God, if I’m just persistent and stay at all of this, I don’t know what YOU have for me but I’m just going to take this and I’m going to learn. But it’s beautiful because I’ve learned so much from him. I’m learning.
I know your single ‘Freedom’ was big…even the recording process for you was so huge …
Liv: It was. Yeah.
From that, and I know that some of your heavy influences are Betty Davis (Yes) and the whole funk sound (Yes), but what kind of set the foundation for your next project?
Liv: Prince was very instrumental in setting the foundation and also what’s going on in the world right now. The thing is you can’t ignore it. Even if you wanted to or not. I love “Love” songs to death, but I don’t think that’s really my message right now. That’s not what’s speaking to me. It is in some sense but I feel like right now I need to be the voice positive change. I just want people to be aware and think about these things. And music has the power in it. James Brown did the ‘I’m Black and I’m Proud’. Nina Simone. You have to think of all these great people who had messages in their music. That’s the kind of music feel I want to bring back. My niece, she’s 7, and not until I had my niece did I take myself out of the picture and really concentrated on my future. She’s my blood you know, I’m more concerned about what her world is going to look like. I want our future to be empowered, that’s what’s important to me.
It’s still going to have that funk. It’s not going to be SO serious. But when you first hear it I want people to wake up. That’s what I get when I recorded Freedom. I wanted it to feel epic.
Taking the message you mentioned kind of goes along with the message of the Rebuild The Dream organization. How did that partnership come about?
Liv: Van Jones is actually the one that started it with Rosario Dawson, she’s also a part of it. I’m just a spokesperson for Prince and NPG but I know that it concentrates on rebuilding the community and finding solutions to building a healthy and sustainable community. The United Center is going to have villages and there’s going to be activities and stuff and leaders and innovators that are actually going to show you how to build a healthy community whether it be from the economy, banks, growing home there’s going to be performances from the James Brown Foundation. So it’ll just be really good examples and solutions on how to create a community, our community. If we learn to work together to create these communities, we can take it back.
Liv: I tend to be more of a performer. Like, thinking out the show. It’s one thing to perform and perform your songs but also it’s the visual and I’ve learned to really concentrate on the visual aspect of my show. Not that fashion is everything but it does help! I’m not going to where street clothes, since I’ve been working with Prince I’ve had to get some glittery stuff. I’ve found myself looking for sequence a bit more. It’s different but that element kind of helps. Prince goes for it and I think that’s what I’ve taken into my shows. I love performing live but I think with him it’s really thought out and I want my shows to be more thought out – like a story board, like you’re watching it on Broadway. That’s why I love Quincy Jones so much, like The Wiz. The music behind it. The orchestra behind it. It’s orchestrated so beautifully and I think that Prince has opened up my mind to where things are orchestrated.
Are there any elements that you can share about the Welcome 2 Chicago show?
Liv: I can tell you that there’s an 11-piece horn section. That’s gonna be crazy. I’ll tell you right now, I’ve done alot of shows …the Welcome to Australia show, L.A. Forum and stuff like that. Those shows were amazing but the horn players …it’s just… the energy level just kind of boost it up. It’s truly going to be amazing. It’s going to be history right here.
I’m just blessed. Blessed to be a part of this and the whole Rebuild The Dream. I feel really Blessed to be a part of it all!
Concert & Ticket Details: www.ticketmaster.com