Dynamic and award-winning duo Lionel & Leslie have released their new EP, 'GRATEFUL', featuring the recent single, 'Praise Him'. Louder Than The Music spoke with this talented gospel couple to find out more about their ministry.
For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how you got involved in making music?
We have been married for 23 years and singing together for 26, We both come from musical families and have sung with other groups before coming together as a husband and wife ministry. Lionel grew up in Detroit and even attend the Mattie Moss Conservatory of music. Leslie discovered her love for music at a young age when her father asked her to sing the Greatest Love of All as he played on the guitar.
Tell us about your new 'Grateful' EP and what the inspiration behind it was?
We quite often are inspired by real life events, whether it is something we are going through personally or have witnessed in some way. It's quite evident how turbulent life is right now. People are suffering and looking for even the tiniest bit of hope. With the song Grateful for example, we've learned to be "Grateful" for every hurdle we've gotten over, every set-back or attack of the enemy. We have to be thankful for the small things as well as the great. We've learned to praise God especially during the hard times, acknowledging that He is still in control and will work things out. These are the times to intentionally be grateful for life and try to spread peace & love as much as possible.
The song 'Praise Him' from that EP is currently charting well, why do you think that song is resonating with people at the moment?
Glory to GOD! Yes, the song is doing quite well and we attribute it all to GOD's timing an His Will. Honestly what we are saying in the song isn't that different than what people have either been saying or feeling for some time. The difference is when GOD has anointed and appointed the situation to hit different..... people receive it differently. 2020 will forever go down in history as an extremely difficult year. GOD is using this year to teach us, humble us and draw all men unto Him. Many will question, how can you keep believing, having faith in and praising GOD when so many people are suffering....when so many have lost loved ones. It is life shaking and we are yearning for true comfort and strength to push on.
What message would you like people to take from your music?
Psalms 46:10 urges us to be still and know that He is GOD. That's always! Not just when things seem to be going well in our lives. Take a moment to quiet your soul enough to hear a word from Him. Our music has GOD's hand all in it, on it and over it. We want our music to comfort and bring peace when everything else around us seems chaotic.
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
Definitely easy listening, soothing R&B feel with lyrics that are relatable. We write with the intention of lifting someone's spirits. So that they may say, "oh wow, that's how I feel, I can relate to that, I can make it too or I feel better after listening to Lionel & Leslie. Influences, we have quite a few. Of course we grew up listening to Gospel, R&B and even for Leslie, Caribbean artists. I've noticed that we tend to gravitate towards the great story tellers with their music nd lyrics, such as, The Winans, Lionel Ritchie and Bob Marley.
If you have listened to them before, I think you can definitely see how their music has impacted us.
If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?
Definitely Marvin Winans, Lionel Ritchie, Luther Vandross, Fred Hammond and Valerie Simpson from Ashford & Simpson. They are able to put down in lyrics what so many people are feeling but either can't or are afraid to articulate.
How would you define success in your career as an artist?
Success is one of those things like Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's different from just having a career. If you are able to make a Career out of something it means you are making money in some way. Whether it is a little or a lot. Success is about perception. Of course as humans we'd love to make a ton of money doing something we love. However, when it comes to true Gospel and ministry, if our music has touched even one person for the better, if it brings them to have a closer relationship with GOD, we have been successful.
What is your favorite album of all time?
We both agree it's pages of Life by Fred Hammond. We could listen to the entire album over and over.
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?
Lionel - The Question Is by The Winans
Leslie - Fixed on You by Lionel & Leslie
What does the next year hold for you?
In the near future we are completing videos for Rescue Me and Love Changes Things.
Lionel is working to complete his Juris Doctor degree, law degree and Leslie working on a doctorate in Divinity.
We are also excited about the Grand Opening of "Green Notes" which is a teahouse that will also feature live music.