Local gospel and jazz-inspired singer LaSonya Natividad has explored Rochester’s music scene since she arrived in 2003— and she continues to explore.
Natividad grew up in the small Louisiana town of Tallulah, which is 18 miles away from Vicksburg, Mississippi and at the center of America’s delta region.
“People like to have fun and enjoy themselves,” she notes. “I heard a lot of jazz and blues in my neighborhood. Our houses were pretty close together. We would have a party at my house, but you could also hear the house two or three down, and they would be playing something else.” She eventually joined her mother in the church choir, which ignited a passion for performance and music. “My favorite genre to sing is gospel, 100%.”
Natividad joined the local music scene in 2009, when she won first runner-up in Roch Star. She also caught the ear of KnuFunK’s band leader, Doug Porter. She eventually expanded into local house music, recorded her first original song,
“Open Up,” with DJ Tony Fuel and tested her rock vocals in the band LeadFoot.
“I have zero music training,” she laughs. “But I’ve been listening to music all my life, and I always appreciate different genres of music. I stay in my lane when it comes to what I have the capability of doing.”
Natividad’s lane includes R&B, soul, gospel and now, rock. “I probably can’t sing Led Zeppelin, but I can do some Rolling Stones.” The genre that she has sung for most of her musical career in Rochester is jazz, and she has also performed with 2 O’Clock Jump.
Because COVID-19 affected live venues and social spaces, Natividad and LeadFoot developed a new band dynamic and soulful tune, eventually renaming the music group Soul Train late last summer. She also performed on virtual recordings and safely distanced sidewalk concerts to make up for canceled gigs.
“It’s difficult when you don’t live in a house with people who are musicians,” she says. Reflecting upon her most memorable performances to date, Thursdays on First in 2014 resonates, mostly due to the large turnout and variety in the music lineup, which included Spindrift, The Pines, Rosco Bandana, Desert Noises and plenty of other local names. “It’s difficult to connect with people now. As a performer, you kind of feed off of the energy of the crowd.”
Doing what she loves
Doing what she loves Natividad is a nurse practitioner working in general internal medicine at Mayo Clinic. She reflects how important work-life balance is and how beneficial it is to be “doing something you love that can translate to your job. I am so grateful that Mayo presents me opportunities to showcase my talent.”
Where does she see herself growing in her music? The next adventure is going to be fully written—by herself. “I’ve never written a song from start to finish, so that is my goal for 2021.”
If you ever feel cranky or tired after a long day, Natividad’s pick-me-up suggestion is artist India Arie. “I have a playlist called My Morning Inspiration. On that playlist, that I listen to almost every single morning, probably 10 songs are by her.”
How about a Friday night at home with close ones and a few drinks? “It would probably be something like OutKast—old OutKast songs like ‘Hey Ya.’ I am an OutKast fan, and I can attest to that.”
To listen to Natividad’s music, keep up to date with her performances and contact her, visit ltnmusic.com.