What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
Well, the thing that most clearly changed my life is Controversy by Prince. But, I saw huge painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat leaning against a wall on 27th Street before being brought into a gallery and I got to stand right up next to it, out on the street, in New York City. I don't even know the title of that painting, but I have never forgotten the piece or the day. I'd also have to throw [David Bowie's] Ziggy Stardust in there, because I didn't know it until I was in my 30's (I know, it seems impossible), and it was still life-changing—all the more that it was so long after it was made (and everyone else knew about it).
Controversy gave me the courage and determination to make music of my own and MY OWN music. The painting reminded me how affecting art can truly be. Ziggy Stardust reminded me that sometimes art can be commerce and still be wild and fucking crazy.
Of all the people I've interviewed over the years, Meshell Ndegeocello is a favorite because she's so thoughtful, candid, and human. Fold her restless creativity and intense musicality into the mix and you have an artist worth following for the duration of her career. Ndegeocello plays The Birchmere tomorrow night to support her new disc, Weather, which was produced by Joe Henry. Go see her, if you can.