Once you hear Kandace Springs sing, you’ll want to listen to her over and over again. She has a modern, soulful sound with obvious influences from jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack and Norah Jones. When megastar Prince happened to see a video of her playing the piano and singing Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” he tweeted it out to his following and then direct tweeted her. It was with his mentoring that Kandace found her authentic voice, draped with these jazz influences. Her album Soul Eyes was released worldwide on July 1, 2016, and it is beautiful. We are thrilled to be able to share our interview with Kandace as our FACE of the South!
If you had to name one thing that you learned from Prince, what would that be?
He helped me get back to the realness. Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone — one of the biggest ones — and classical … that was my heart, and he helped me find it again. My dad had me listening to that growing up. Then, I got a record deal in my early 20s, which was more hip hop. The label I was with loved that I could do that, the jazz, but said it wasn’t really marketable. So, they changed my sound a little bit. Hey, it sounded good, but it wasn’t me. Prince saw my video singing Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me.” He hit me up on Twitter directly. He retweeted the video. [Kandace starts to sign “Stay with me, this is all you need.”] He said, “This is all you need.” He got mad at the hip hop, saying “It’s covering your voice up!” He kept telling me to stay true to myself.
If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?
Cars. I still do it. I love restoring cars. Body work. Painting them. Finding them, bargaining for them. Everything about it.
How did you learn to do all that with cars?
YouTube and practice. Just get in there and do it.
Speaking of cars, I understand you were a valet for a while.
[Nodding] Yep. At the Nashville Renaissance.
So what was your favorite car that you ever got to drive with that job?
Some type of Ferrari. It was badass. Power shift only. So cool. There were some twin turbo Porsches that were nice …
Have you always written songs?
Yes, I’ve always written. And I cowrite. On Soul Eyes, the last song is “Rain Falling” — I wrote that when I was 16. It’s about when George Shearing meets Ellie Geffert.
Have you always lived in Nashville?
Uh huh. I did live in New York and LA, but Nashville was always home … family here. And I need space to spread out so I can have my tools everywhere! Little bit by little bit … the South is catching up as far as everything goes … views of other cultures, that type of thing. When I traveled, my eyes opened up as I met other types of people. Nashville keeps being rated as having the nicest people in America. That keeps me here. And the cooking!
What are your favorite restaurants?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be yourself. But, keep an open mind. You may learn something about yourself you didn’t know. But, deep down you know who you really are.
Do you have a favorite place to escape?
Doing music. There’s this baby grand that I used to get lost playing. It’s in an old church that would be empty a lot, and I would go in and just play for hours. I’d play in the dark for hours. That’s where I got seasoned. The other place is in my garage. It’s completely different. It refreshes you. I love flipping cars!
If anyone reading has musical aspirations, what would you advise them to do?
Have confidence and network. Let people see you. YouTube. Make an existence for your talent. I made a demo. My dad would always play it, and this one guy heard it, Evan Rogers. He and his business partner Carl Sturken ended up managing me at SRP. Because of them … they had the finances to move me and get me where I needed to go. You have to put yourself out there!
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Honestly, I haven’t set one. But, I’d say — going back to that advice — to meet more people and put myself out there.
Before we let you go, are you reading any books that you can recommend?
Do you know Eva Cassidy? Her voice … it’s so soulful. Most people know of her because of her rendition of “Over The Rainbow.” I’m reading this book called Behind The Rainbow: The Tragic Life of Eva Cassidy. She was a HUGE inspiration to me. Blond hair and these big blue eyes. My dad first had me listen to her song “Autumn Leaves” … Oh my God, I can’t keep it together. This book is on her life.
Thank you, Kandace! And, special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s gorgeous photos!
Read about even more inspiring women from around the South in our FACES archives. Click here.