When you think of Nashville, you probably think of country music. Soul and jazz? Not so much. But Kandace Springs is aiming to change that. In 2014, Springs was signed to Blue Note Records, which is known for recording the jazz greats like Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk. Springs owned that warm classic jazz sound on her debut album, 2016's Soul Eyes. But with her latest album Indigo, out now, Springs is mixing it up and adding some lighter contemporary notes.
Growing up in Nashville, Springs was surrounded by more than just country music from the very start. Her father, Scat Springs, who sang back-up for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer Chaka Khan and more, always exposed her to a wide spectrum of music.
"He would take me to sessions he would sing around Nashville all the time for a living. And that's how I grew up knowing him as only a musician," Springs says. "He got me into playing piano and singing and pushing me as I go."
Springs remembers when her father gave her CDs by Norah Jones, Roberta Flack and Nina Simone back in the day. She still considers those women her greatest influences.
When she started playing at bars in Nashville, Springs sometimes felt like the odd one out in a sea of country and Americana musicians. "I've made my place in what I do now," she says. And though she's traveled to other cities — most notably New York City — for her music career, no matter how far she roams, Springs asserts that Nashville will always be her home base.
"Nashville is my hometown, girl, my whole family is there," she laughs. "I need my sweet tea ... but I put the soul on it, too."
Springs spoke with NPR's Michel Martin about Indigo, growing into her own in Nashville and her love of classic cars and classical piano. Hear their conversation at the audio link and enjoy live versions of music from Indigo from NPR's studios.