HOMETOWN: Peoria, Ill.
INFLUENCES: Nina Simone, Etta James, Tina Turner
ALBUM: The Unexpected, out now

The daughter of a Pentecostal deacon, LiV Warfield grew up in a household where musical entertainment was discouraged, so she set her sights on a different path—as a sprinter. “I kept my voice a secret for more than 20 years,” she says. “Athletics were my primary discipline and the encouraged formula of success in my family.” Following high school Warfield accepted a track-and-field scholarship to Portland State University in Portland, Ore. But between classes and track meets, Warfield began performing at karaoke nights throughout the city and eventually started her own band, LiV and the Warfield Project.

When Prince’s New Power Generation announced an open audition in 2009, Warfield submitted a YouTube video that featured a powerful rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” It was all Prince needed to see, and he extended an invitation for Warfield to become a backup singer in his influential backing band. The opportunity allowed her to perform alongside B.B. King, the Roots and Al Green. Receiving support from Prince, Warfield gained an extra level of confidence. “I’ve finally tapped into my chi and that’s just letting yourself go—no boundaries,” she says. “I’m in full flight now.”

While Warfield has toured with the New Power Generation, she has also spent much of her time recording her latest album, The Unexpected, at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios near Minneapolis. “I had to be at my best and not shortchange my feelings on this record,” she says. “The words and vocals should penetrate.” Prince, the album’s executive producer, helped her achieve the desired sound—“alternative R&B-soul with a bit of rock ’n’ roll.” Since its release, Warfield has performed on Late Show With David Letterman, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and The Arsenio Hall Show.

comment closed

Copyright © 2015 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·