Filed Under:

Lenny Kravitz: Choosing Optimism

For more than 20 years, Lenny Kravitz has defied the expectations of radio programmers with his mix of psychedelic rock and soul. His newest album, Black and White America, continues in that tradition, hopping between genres and featuring guest spots from Jay-Z, Drake and Trombone Shorty.

In spite of its diverse sonic palette, the album does adhere to a central theme of race in the U.S. Speaking with Weekend Edition Sunday host Audie Cornish, Kravitz says he wrote the title track in response to a TV documentary about negative reactions to President Obama's election.

"It was addressing the fact that these people, these Americans, did not like what America had become — they wanted America to be back the way it was 100 years ago," Kravitz says. "It was quite intense. They even spoke about assassination plots.

"We all know that racism exists, and it's out there, and we're going to bump into it from time to time," he adds. "But to hear people speaking about it with such rage and anger and ignorance ... I was like, 'Really? To that extent?' The song just naturally came out of me."

Taking a socially conscious approach in his lyrics has sometimes gotten Kravitz in trouble with critics who've accused him of putting the message before the music. He says he has never taken that criticism to heart.

"It's funny how, when you put out a positive message, people question it or don't like it, or think that it's old-school," Kravitz says. "I mean, look at the world we're living in — we need all of these things. I choose to be positive and optimistic."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Costume Designer Colleen Atwood Took Unlikely Path To Hollywood Royalty

Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood knows tough times. A single mom at 17 who once worked at a French fry factory to make ends meet is Hollywood royalty today. A favorite of director Tim Burton, Atwood is now costume designer for his adaptation of the darkly comic, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children and the upcoming Harry Potter prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
NPR

Carnegie Deli Says It Is Closing Down Its Landmark NYC Restaurant

As news of the closing rippled far beyond the deli's home turf in Manhattan Friday, hundreds of people responded with sadness and disbelief.
NPR

Gary Johnson Is Probably The Healthiest Candidate For President

The 63-year-old Libertarian presidential nominee has run 17 marathons and four Ironman Triathlons. He doesn't drink or smoke cigarettes, though his doctor doesn't address his past marijuana use.
NPR

The United Nations Is Launching A Space Mission

The U.N. is planning to send its first spacecraft into orbit, packed with scientific experiments from countries that can't afford their own space programs.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.