Lenny Kravitz has been a busy man lately. His 10th record, called “Strut,” just came out. So did a hard cover, career-spanning photo book, simply called, “Lenny Kravitz”. Then there’s a film coming out next year that features Kravitz, called, “Who Shot The Sheriff.”
Kravitz, 50, was welcomed with a standing ovation when host Anthony DeCurtis announced him to the stage. He immediately appeared relaxed, informal, somewhat soft-spoken and thoughtful. The first topic of discussion was the new record. In answering DeCurtis’ question regarding where inspiration came from for the new record, Kravitz replied that it wasn’t anything specific. He said that he had just wrapped up his Black and White America world tour, had filmed for two films prior to that, and wound up on the Atlanta-based set of the latest Hunger Games series installment, called “Catching Fire.” His role is that of as a fashion whiz named Cinna. This is an apt one, as Kravitz has always been quite fashion-conscious and is very into clothing and having his own style. This event was no exception, as Kravitz was dressed to impress in mostly black.
Kravitz went on to say that song ideas were coming to him two and three at a time, and he had to make the choice of either sleeping or recording his ideas into an iPhone so they wouldn’t be lost. He chose the latter, adding that when gifts like these present themselves, one must grab them. This activity went on for the whole two weeks that he was on the set, whereupon he went to the Bahamas to record the record. Kravitz usually plays most if not all the instruments on his records, which is what he did with this record.
With approximately 40 million records sold since his debut in ‘89, entitled “Let Love Rule,” Kravitz is in his 25th year as a recording artist. He said that he feels just as invigorated and inspired as he ever did, and that he’s just getting started as a “late bloomer.”
Having been on Richard Branson’s Virgin Records, this new release is the first on his own imprint, Roxie Records, a tribute to his late mother, actress Roxy Roker. Kravitz and his mother were very close, and they were best friends until she was taken from him by breast cancer in ‘95, aged 66. Roker, who was black and of Caribbean descent, was best known for her role as Helen Willis in the television series The Jeffersons, where she played the wife of a white man. Interestingly, this was the case in real life as well, as Lenny’s father is the late Seymour Kravitz, a Jew of Russian ancestry who was a filmmaker and NBC News producer. He passed from leukemia in ‘05, aged 80. Kravitz explained that he is very much shaped by having these parents, growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and later the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Musically, Kravitz noted that the Jackson 5 were his earliest and strongest obsession, and that when his father took him to see them at Madison Square Garden in ‘70, without telling him where they were going, it blew his six year old mind and set him on his musical course.
An hour or so of personal stories from Kravitz, such as this one, gave the audience plenty to think about for the standard Q & A that occurs at the end of most events such as this. It was the Q & A that held the most touching and emotional moment of all. DeCurtis read a letter to Kravitz and the audience from a friend of DeCurtis who lost someone close to them due to a terminal illness. Kravitz, who knows all too well about the subject due to losing both parents this way, was all ears. The letter explained that the person listened to Kravitz’ “Mama Said” daily, and that they hoped that a song from it called “Fields Of Joy” was what the afterlife felt like. Clearly moved deeply, Kravitz replied by saying: “Words will not even describe what that means. If that was the only person who ever heard it and that was the reaction, then there is no greater reward, accolade or amount of money, fame – that’s it. If you can offer a person that, what a blessing to life.”