Letitia VanSant’s distinctly intimate voice and down-to-earth stage presence have always caught people off guard, ever since she came out of her shell and started to perform in 2009. She is nothing if not utterly sincere, and her intricate melodies deliver simple truths about human nature and society. Many shows turn into conversations with the audience, and listeners are often surprised by the trust that she places in them–sharing vulnerable stories, inviting honest reactions. Her solo debut album Breakfast Truce, released in 2012, features charming arrangements on the ukulele, banjo, and acoustic guitar, with a sound ranging from roots rock to traditional old time to warbling indie folk.
As her confidence has grown, VanSant has revealed more of her worldview, issuing thought-provoking challenges to herself and her listeners. Her most recent album, Parts & Labor, reflects on the profits-over-people mentality that exploits working families and the communities in which they live. The recording and arrangements were crafted along with the Bonafides, a band of talented musicians who have helped transform her repertoire into a bolder, more complex sound rich with full-throated vocal harmonies. The Bonafides currently include David McKindley-Ward on electric guitar and mandolin, Tom Liddle on upright and electric bass, and Manny Arciniega on percussion. It’s apparent that the group has developed a special chemistry, and finds great joy in creating their art together.
Letitia VanSant is the lead singer and songwriter and accompanies herself on acoustic guitar, banjo, and ukulele. Her primary pursuit was social justice and environmental work at various non-profits, until folk music demanded a more central role in her life in her mid-twenties. Hailing from Baltimore, MD, her musical training was mostly garnered around campfires and on the back porches of dear friends. Her real name is Letitia VanSant Robson, but most people in her personal life know her by the nickname “Sandy.”