Lenny Kravitz has walked the musical line between Black and White America ever since 1989, when he cannily crafted his persona through strands of Prince, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie, John Lennon, and Jimi Hendrix. Kravitz has never been shy about his colorblindness but the very title of Black and White America suggests that he may finally be getting political, something he’s avoided outside of the occasional free love platitude. Naturally, this isn’t quite the case.
Black and White America is the 9th studio album by American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and arranger Lenny Kravitz, released on August 30, 2011. The album was more commercially successful in the European market, where it charted in the top ten in various countries, including a #1 debut in Germany and Switzerland. According to Oricon, Black and White America debuted at #20 selling 6,000 copies in Japan. The album debuted at #17 in the US, selling 20,145 copies.
Rock music in the 1980s had completely lost the gritty feel of earlier eras, until Lenny Kravitz rediscovered the magic formula. Kravitz's sonic template combined good old-fashioned rock & roll with glam, soul, and psychedelia, making him a massive success. He made a splash straight out of the gate with his album Let Love Rule. After that, he de-emphasized the flower-power aspects of his music and began moving toward a heavier rock sound.
Live performance from American singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz, recorded in Rio de Janeiro in 2011.
There may have been other "retro" rock acts before him, but Lenny Kravitz was one of the first to not be pigeonholed to a single style as he touched upon such genres as soul, funk, reggae, hard rock, psychedelic, folk, and ballads over the years. Born in New York on May 26, 1964 (his mother was actress Roxie Roker, best-known for her role as Helen Willis on the popular TV series The Jeffersons, and his father was a TV producer), Kravitz was raised in Los Angeles, where he found himself around countless musical giants as a youngster due to his parents friendships with the likes of Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Short, and Miles Davis.