Lenny Kravitz talks making music on his terms

It’s been over 30 years since Lenny Kravitz burst on to the scene with his debut album, Let Love Rule, but if he listened to what music execs were telling him, fans may never have heard it.

“I was told my music wasn’t Black enough or wasn’t white enough,” Kravitz tells People, noting that record execs insisted he needed to choose a specific style if he wanted to be successful.

“I was told that I need to make the music that Black people commercially are making that’s on the radio, so you’ll have success,” he says. “And I just could never get with any of that. I was going to make the music that I made.” 

Lenny, who’ll release the new album Blue Electric Light on May 24, says his music has been influenced by all types of artists, like Duke EllingtonThe Jackson 5Led Zeppelin and more.

“The inspiration was everything that I’d learned from a child to then musically. Blues, gospel, jazz, reggae, pop, R&B, rock and roll, everything,” he says, noting that even Zeppelin was inspired by Black artists like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. He says of the band’s music, “When I heard it, this vortex opened up.”

And while Kravitz recently talked about never being recognized at Black award shows, he is now set to receive a very special honor from the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective. He’ll be honored with the Global Impact Award, which “recognizes Black music creators whose dedication to the art form has greatly influenced the industry.”

Kravitz will receive the honor on Thursday, February 1, at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles

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