HOMETOWN: Nashville
INFLUENCES: Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday
ALBUM: Kandace Springs EP, out now

“Ever since I can remember, music has been a part of my life,” says Kandace Springs. “My dad was always playing music in the house, in the car, singing in the mall—everywhere! He taught me how to harmonize.” An R&B singer-songwriter, Spring’s father also imparted an appreciation of his favorite performers to his daughter. “When I was a kid, he gave me CDs of all the greats: Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday. That’s how I became inspired to be a musician—and those artists continue to influence what I do and put out for people.”

After being discovered by the production team of Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers (Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson), Springs impressed Blue Note Records president Don Was with her version of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and landed a record deal with his label. Around the same time, Springs, 23, drew the attention of another music legend: Prince, who invited her to perform during the 30th anniversary celebration of Purple Rain. “He retweeted one of my videos, and the next thing you know he was calling me and inviting me to perform,” she says. “It’s still unreal to me.”

Living in New York, the Nashville native is currently working on her debut album, produced by Eli Wolf (Norah Jones, Elvis Costello, Robert Glasper). Featuring collaborations with writers including Andre Harris (Jill Scott), Jack Splash (Cee-Lo) and Claude Kelly (Bruno Mars), the record is her attempt to “bring back old-school soul in a new-school way.” Springs recently wowed a national audience during an appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman. “I think that singing allows people to express themselves through music,” she says. “I personally enjoy seeing other people’s reactions to the music they’re listening to.”

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