Tony-Award winning actress and Broadway star, LaChanze, has been gearing up for her national tour and preparing to launch her new EP called Feeling Good. Beginning on Monday, February 27th at the Highline Ballroom in NYC, LaChanze will be sharing the music of her heart and soul. Before hitting the road and embarking on her adventure, LaChanze talks to SWAAY about her journey recording the EP, her musical influences, and the importance of music in her life.
Winning the 2006 Tony Award for “Best Actress in a Musical” in the original cast of The Color Purple, LaChanze is commonly known as a Broadway legend. She also has stared in musicals such as If/Then, Once on This Island, and Ragtime, as well as movies like Hercules and The Help. Now, LaChanze is expanding her horizons by beginning to create her own dialogue with her new EP Feeling Good. “I am used to having people write for me and reading scripts, but it is so amazing to work on original pieces,” LaChanze said, “sometimes I will wake up with a melody in my head, and I would take my phone and make a voice memo of me humming the tune, all while I am still in bed.”
The EP is based on her personal experiences and journeys that have impacted her life. “I talk about my favorite music from the late 60’s and 70’s, and how that music impacted my life,” LaChanze says.
“I also talk about my late husband, and how my children helped me get through those tough times.” Through the EP, she aims to touch and influence the audience by taking them on her personal journey through sharing the music of her life. “The music that I am performing during my tour has influenced my life and helped me become the woman I am today,” said LaChanze.
Feeling Good is meant to uplift the audience by inspiring them to reflect on their personal journeys, and help them through whatever they are dealing. LaChanze’s new EP is about comfort, hope, faith, and inspiring others. The Feeling Good tour begins in early March and will occur all across the country. “I am looking forward to traveling to new cities and inspiring people to look at the Broadway community differently,” said LaChanze.
Along with preparing for her national tour, LaChanze is also writing a memoir about her life so far. “My life has been pretty interesting, and I have gone through quite a bit of things that people may not know of,” said LaChanze. She has also written a children’s book Little Diva, which presents a story about a day in the life of a little girl with big Broadway dreams.
“Feeling Good is a peak into my life through song,” stated LaChanze. The tour will give listeners a peek into her life through song with original material as well as musical highlights from her career. “I found some really great music, some original and some that people are familiar with, as well as some that people know me from in the musical theater world,” said LaChanze. As of now, LaChanze is focusing on her our, but will go back to Broadway after her daughter graduates from high school.
“The journey has been tumultuous at time, but also very inspiring, and at the end of the day, I want to inspire others by telling my story,” stated LaChanze.
To follow LaChanze on her musical journey, follow her on Twitter at @laChanze or instagram at @mslachanze.
"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."
In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.
And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.
Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.
But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…
Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.
Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.
And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.
And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.
We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.
Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.
And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.
The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.
And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.
I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.
As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.
Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.
We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.