*Lenny Kravitz says his new single “Black and White America” was inspired by racists who threatened to kill Barack Obama if he became president.
The singer was appalled by a TV documentary he saw shortly after Obama announced his intention to run for the White House – and he told talk show host Tavis Smiley that it brought lots of emotions about his own mixed-race upbringing.
“There was a group of people somewhere in Middle America saying that this was not America to them and that this was absolutely disgusting, and what they were gonna do to make sure it doesn’t happen, down to death,” said Kravitz.
“(They said), ‘If the black man wins, we’re gonna riot, we’re gonna make sure he gets killed and this is a travesty… We all know this (racism) exists but to hear it like this, to hear it so strong in this day and age, it kind of shocked me for a second.
“That’s what inspired the song, and then I started going into my whole past with my parents and what they went through. They got married in 1963 and they were in New York City… and they had hard times – walking down the street, comments, people spitting, yelling.”
Kravitz said that his mother Roxie Roker portraying half of an interracial couple on “The Jeffersons” didn’t help matters: “That was 1975 and that was the interracial kiss on primetime television… and I remember the mail that she used to get back then. It was really bad, really bad.”
Below, Kravitz takes us on a tour of the double LP version of “Black and White America,” due Aug. 26. Scroll down to hear Lenny perform the first single live.