When Sisaundra Lewis walks into the room, her sense of refined grace and feminine strength quickly give away her identity as a woman of talent, for a singer of such a gift must be expected to carry it well. Although, however clearly her glamorous sensibilities testify to the vocal prowess that made her a household name on NBC’s The Voice, behind Sisaundra’s allure and her ability to which it alludes lies a truthful tenderness that is rare in even the most humble of women.
Orlando Style sat down with The Voice star to discuss her television experience, current music ventures, and how life as a preacher’s kid shaped the singer into one of Orlando’s very own icons in the making.
“How can I put this into songs and a message and reach all the people that I’ve met in my lifetime?”
Orlando Style: Your season on The Voice was an opportunity singers only dream about. Looking back on your experience, what has the show allowed you to do with your talent and your career?
Sisaundra Lewis: I think initially when I was on the show, I thought, “What an incredible platform; what a great way to come back after not being in the industry for so long.” In retrospect, I look back and say that I’m so glad I did it because it ignited back burner dreams in so many people across the country… It has opened up so many doors for me to share my story and also to encourage younger people to start early with their dreams, to be focused and to not let anything stop them. Today it has allowed me to start the Sisaundra Lewis Foundation, and we are basically building the future of fine arts. It turned out to be something greater than I could have ever imagined because what I took with me was my belief and faith that whatever I do, God has a plan for me.
OS: How did you find inspiration for your project, The Preacher’s Kid?
SL: When I exited the show, I left knowing that I’d done extremely well and it was great to represent my hometown, but I still came home not knowing what kind of music to do. Blake [Shelton] said the same thing, “You can do anything, Sisaundra.” So I did, and then I came home and thought, “What am I going to do with my voice, with my platform?” I just really began to start speaking to a lot of people who I felt were great mentors in my life, and they brought me way back around to, “You’re a preacher’s kid.”
OS: Tell us about the creative process behind this project. What will your listeners find in your music?
SL: I am a believer, and I take the Lord with me everywhere I go, and I thought, “How can I put this into songs and a message and reach all the people that I’ve met in my lifetime?” I started writing with a producer friend of mine, Tony Hemmings, and we just started writing music that is more from the perspective of being a woman, being a Christian woman, being a single Christian mom with three children, and just the life that I’d had to live. So this new compilation is really about us as people, things that we’ve encountered in life. It’s basically the plight of a woman.
OS: What is the Sisaundra Lewis Foundation, and how is it affecting students with talents similar to yours?
SL: I created the Sisaundra Lewis Foundation on the premise of how I grew up. I was a migrant worker; we traveled back and forth and there was not very much that we knew. I knew I had this gift, but I didn’t know what to do with it… and so when God gave me this platform, I said, “What can I do to help these children who have these gifts and they just don’t have the slightest idea about what to do with them? I want to find and nurture those talents… to give them a safe environment to grow and nurture their talents and give them advice, to bring people in to counsel them… With our sponsors and donors, we’ve given away scholarships in dance, and I’m teaching a lot of students one-on-one voice, and it’s amazing to watch their voice… I want to help you really identify with your gift. My voice is my best friend; we go everywhere together. I take care of it like you would take care of someone you love because it’s a special gift.
OS: What piece of advice would you give to aspiring singers?
SL: It’s not about competing with the person next to you; it’s about competing with your last best. Always just try to excel within yourself as opposed to being better than the next person. I don’t think there’s any comparison in that… If we push ourselves to the max, then we can’t ask for anymore. We all have something to offer, and I want all singers to know that we’re not here to compete with each other; we’re here to encourage and empower each other and that’s what my presence is here to represent. I acknowledge and respect all gifts, and I wish you the very best in your journey.
OS: Let’s talk about your style.
SL: I love looks from the vintage style of Lena Horne, Jackie Onassis, and Barbra Streisand… the gowns, from funky to vintage. I try to put a lot of that together when I’m getting ready to step on stage. My stylist is Troy Clinton, and we just go through different looks and images, and we talk about it and he brings over these fabulous clothes and we kind of sort through them and choose what’s going to work for that moment.
OS: Do you have any words for your fans here in Orlando? Why do you want Orlando to be your home, when you could choose a city such as New York or Los Angeles?
SL: I am so grateful and thankful for their love and support; there’s no way in the world I could do and be who I am without that encouragement. Those are the things that really keep you going, to know that people really are in your corner. I could have moved away, and I said to myself, “As long as I’m near an airport, I’ll be good.” And this is home, and I want to be one of the ones who stay here and help nurture the growth. We have a lot of new things going on here… I don’t want to leave when it starts growing and then come back; I want to be here and help be that footstool… I want to be a part of the building. I’m really grateful to them for embracing me while I’m here.
Keep up with Sisaundra by liking her Facebook Page, Sisaundra LIVE, and following her on Twitter and Instagram at @Sisaundra. Learn more about Sisaundra Lewis at www.SisaundraLive.com.