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L.E. would be the one in your friend group that has it together. Upon our first meeting, she offers to pick me up from hotel. I stand outside the NOPSI Hotel and close my eyes as I allow the New Orleans heat envelop me. All of a sudden a small two-door white Mercedes pulls up to the front. I see a girl, probably no taller than 5’3″ smile from the car. It’s L.E. She gives me a hug like we are old friends and we instantly start talking like we are.

We talk men, relationships, being a woman focused on her career. It’s hard to believe I’m talking to a 26 year old because she has the wisdom and thoughts of someone who has lived. Like really lived. I met L.E. by chance. In order to even allow Ms. Richard’s old dance studio to be in the documentary, I had to track down the home owner, which turned out to be L.E.’s. She told me off handedly, as if home ownership is easy, “I wanted to own my own place in New Orleans.” It spoke to the determination and resilience of L.E. She’s a woman if she wants something to happen, she makes it happen. There is no, “but, what if?”

L.E. is what the industry would call a triple threat: she can sing, she can dance, she can play instruments. Upon meeting her, you instantly get lost in her smile. She’s warm and welcoming, which makes it no surprise she also teaches voice lessons to students. We talk about this and she says, “It really just started by word of mouth…and it just grew into a full fledged business.” Talent.

The artist is well known in NOLA, with her family owning a historical church in Treme for generations. This is the location she chose for her photoshoot. As the camera clicked, L.E. gave me a series of poses in the pew of her father’s (once grandfather and yes, great grandfather’s church), including sexy poses. It was refreshing…and surprising to see someone so comfortable in a religious space. As if she was reading my thoughts, she laughs and says, “I spend a lot of time here.”

Her brother is also a musician, a well-known drummer. He’s currently out of town for a gig. He calls during our shoot, “We talk every day,” she reveals. Her family is close and they are all involved in the church, which is located on a beautiful street surrounded by colorful homes in NOLA. As I’m shooting L.E. outside, a second line marches and dances by in honor of Juneteenth. Though I’d been to NOLA over seven times by this point, it was my first second line. Together, we chase it for a few blocks, dancing and taking some photos. L.E.’s focused, yet carefree nature is a characteristic that seems rooted amongst all New Orleanians.

Though L.E.’s ex-boyfriend is a popular hairstylist in New Orleans, she does her own hair and makeup for the shoot. “We’re still really close,” she tells me and adds, “He does my hair all the time. He believes in me.” Once you hear her music, you instantly will believe in her too. As we cruise down the road, her soulful voice belts through the speakers. I look over in slight shock that this voice is coming out of this petite woman.

“I’ve loved music all my life,” she tells me with a dreamy smile, “It’s me.”

Get to know more about L.E. below in her exclusive interview for Hello Beautiful.

Name: L.E.

Nickname: L.E.

Age: 26

Location (Which Ward/Area are you from): 17th

Occupation: Singer/Songwriter, Owner of Beyond the Stage, LLC

HB: Define your personal style:

‘Girl Next Door Vibes’ when I’m chill & eclectic when I’m feelin’ artsy.

HB: How has New Orleans influenced your style?:

New Orleans is so soulful. Its uniqueness of architect, Indian culture, and its musical influence in the world has helped me develop who I am as a person and artist. Its influenced the structure of how I piece by outfits together. I like to play with colors, materials, and patterns a lot.

HB: What is your favorite hairstyle and why?:

I don’t have a favorite hairstyle! Which is super interesting, but I like to try different looks, but I love big voluptuous hair. If it ain’t big and flowy, it ain’t me! I love the drama!

HB: Is there anything you lost in Katrina (clothing or accessories related) that you still wish you had?:

To be honest, my style has changed so much over the years, I wouldn’t say there’s anything I wish I still had. But, if my style was still the same, I would wish I still had all of my Pepe and Baby Phat gear.

HB: How has your style changed post-Katrina?:

Now, that I’m older, I’m not really into trends the way I was when I was younger. Instead of buying things that are “in”, I like to buy pieces that really stand out to me. Most of the time, these pieces reflect a little of my personality.

HB: Has your relationship with clothing and accessories differed pre and post Katrina?:

Absolutely… It was an age thing. Pre Katrina, I was into dressing super preppy. It was the stage of popping collars and I was into it O.D. hard. I would wear two, sometimes three polo shirts at a time (popped) with colorful bangles and what not…I was twelve years old. As I’ve matured, my style has matured with me, thank God. I don’t think I had much of a relationship back then other than following the trends. Nowadays, my style reflects who I am as a person and sometimes, what I’m feeling. I view clothing as a tool of expression. This new relationship has been fulfilling because I “wear” my clothing, It doesn’t wear me.

HB: What’s one thing that people may not know about the fashion and style in New Orleans?:

The fashion here can be pretty trendy, but sometimes you find those gems of people who really express themselves through fashion. Its super refreshing as a creative. I love to visit the Bywater area to hangout. It’s a super artsy area where you’ll find all sorts of people who are extremely creative and most times their style reflects that.

HB: What is your favorite hairstyle and why?:

Honestly, I don’t have one favorite style. I love to change up my hair a lot. However, I will say, I do like wearing browns and blondes. I feel that it gives my skin tone an extra glow to it unlike my natural hair color which is a very dark brown.

HB: What is one thing you never leave the house without?:

I can never ever leave the house without some type of lipstick or lip gloss. And if I do, you better believe I have one floating around somewhere in my purse, backpack or car.

HB: What is the “signature” thing about your look?: 

Besides a hand full of rings, I think the signature thing about my style is how eclectic my look is. I usually take a very out looking piece and either pair it with something you usually wouldn’t see worn with it or do my best at highlighting the item by toning down the rest of my clothing.

I think, at some point, we all subconsciously can easily get into a space where fashion trends rule us. It’s important to understand yourself so that you are able to consciously choose pieces of clothing that reflect yourself and not an image that society deems as “in” at the moment.

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WARD GIRLS: L.E. Is Building A Musical Empire On The Foundation Of Her Family Church was originally published on hellobeautiful.com

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