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Lenny Kravitz on Finding His Voice, Bahamian Roots, and Commitment to Non-Violence

Grammy-winner singer Lenny Kravitz

Photo/ @LennyKravitz Facebook

Grammy-winning singer Lenny Kravitz can now add author to his list of accomplishments. The songwriter and musician recently released his first memoir, “Let Love Rule,” which tells the story of the singer-guitarist’s life, from childhood to age 25. The book co-authored by David Ritz chronicles Kravitz’s journey to finding his voice. He also talks about his commitment to love and non-violence and pays homage to his Bahamian heritage.

Lenny, 56, is the only son of The Jeffersons star, Roxie Roker, and tv news producer Sy Kravitz. His mother was a Caribbean-American, and his father was a Russian Jew. As a child, Lenny experienced racism in the first grade. That experience led to a conversation with his mom about race. Lenny recalls her saying, “You have two heritages, one Russian Jewish and the other African Caribbean, and you should be proud of both. At that time, she made it clear that the world was always going to see me as only Black.” he writes.

His Bahamian roots run deep. Lenny spent many summers with his mother and maternal grandfather in the Bahamas. “I’ve been coming here my whole life, so it’s always felt like home,” he told SPIN. Lenny has spent much of 2020 living in the Bahamas, working on new music. Since 2019 he has been serving as a brand ambassador for The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Through his foundation, Let Love Rule, Lenny also helped the people of the Bahamas get back on their feet after hurricane Dorian. It’s his way of giving back to his ancestral home.

“The whole journey of finding myself was quite a road. Thinking perhaps I wasn’t enough, or my name wasn’t correct, or the music wasn’t whatever it should have been,” he said in a New York Times interview. Today, Lenny Kravitz is a bonafide rockstar. He has sold more than 40 million records worldwide and won four consecutive Grammys for male rock vocal performance from 1999 to 2002.

In his memoir, Lenny Kravitz recounts when a blowout with his dad at age 16 got him kicked out of the house. He was a nomad for a few years – living in his car and with friends. During that time, Kravitz was offered record deals but turned them down. He wanted to make music on his terms, and that he did. In an interview with The Carlos Watson Show, when asked, “what advice he gives young people when asked how to dream fearlessly,” he responded, “You have to have a strong spirit. Not every door that is open is the door that you should walk down.”

The young musician performed under the stage name Romeo Blue in the early 1980s and experimented with different musical styles. About the musicians that inspired him growing up, Lenny writes, “I loved the sophistication and slickness of Steely Dan. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were brilliant musicians and storytellers who created a blues-based jazz-rock genre all their own.” His unique musical style of soul and classic rock is also greatly influenced by Jackson 5, James Brown, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, and Prince. Lenny also credits actress Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show), with whom he shares a daughter (actress, singer, model, Zoe Kravitz) for helping him find his musical voice.

Lenny’s commitment to love and nonviolence is echoed in his memoir and woven like a tapestry in his music. In his song Here to Love from his 2018 Raise Vibration album, Lenny sings, “We must all unite for we are one creation. We must join the fight; together, we are strong. We must do what's right in every situation. Love each other's lives as you would do your own.” Peace is a priority for Lenny, which explains why he partnered with the UN Human Rights Office on a campaign to #FightRacism and combat the global spread of hate speech.


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