D’Angelo on the Black Lives Matter movement: “Music absolutely has the power to change things”

The soul singer highlighted the sociopolitical angles of his album in a rare TV interview this week

Soul star D’Angelo has made his first notable talk show appearance in a decade, speaking out on subjects ranging from his musical inspiration to the social movement Black Lives Matter, and growing up in the Pentecostal church.

In the interview, D’Angelo highlights various aspects of his music and its inspiration, talking in particular about 2014 release Black Messiah.

On the third album, he said: “Black Messiah is, I think, the most sociopolitical stuff I’ve done on record. I think in lieu of everything that’s been going — the sign of the times, right — something needs to be said. There’s so few doing that right now, and that was funny to me because there’s so much going on.”

“The Black Lives Matter movement is going on, young black men and women are getting killed for nothing. I’ve always been a big reader and fan of history, and I love the Black Panthers. I’m not trying to be like a poster child or anything of the movement, but definitely a voice as a black man, and as a concerned black man and as a father, as well.”

NMEAndy Hughes/NME

Speaking of his religion, which also plays into his music, D’Angelo said: “When we’re onstage, we’re going straight to church whether we’re in Japan or Poland. It totally informs everything I do. It’s that thing about everyone having their own way of reaching their place. My thing has always been that. A lot of times before we go out onstage, pretty much every time, I start by praying. We get in the spirit, and then we go out there.”

He later adds that members of his church used to tell him “don’t you go out there and use your gift for the devil,” when referring to his performing in secular circles.

Having been quiet when it came to new music since 2000, D’Angelo finally released his long-awaited third album Black Messiah in late 2014, and also deals with that 14-year break in during the conversation:

“I’m always writing and learning. It’s about growth. I’m growing as a musician, as a guitarist. You never want to be at a place where you feel like you’ve arrived. It’s always an upward incline.”

You can watch the 26-minute first part of the interview below (the second part is yet to be released):