Lenny Kravitz Talks ‘Black and White,’ ‘Hunger Games’ Role

Lenny Kravitz may have been quiet for a while, but the singer-songwriter is back with a new album out today and an upcoming role in the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ wildly successful book series, Hunger Games.

Kravitz spoke at length about the newly-released Black and White, an album he headed down to the Bahamas to record more than a year ago. Originally titled Negrophilia, Kravitz drew some of the inspiration from filming the movie Precious. The singer says that the album initially had a darker feel to him, but seeing vitriolic comments on TV actually pushed him toward making something more positive:

“I was channel-surfing in the Bahamas one night and came across this documentary,” he recalls. “I don’t remember what it was called, but it had all these people talking about President Obama— how they didn’t approve of his being elected and wanted to take their country back, any way they could. I know that there’s racism, but to hear people voice it in such a hateful way — I had to write a rebuttal.”

Kravitz- who, like President Obama, is a child of an interracial marriage- said speeches by Obama before his election were a great comfort to him and served as inspiration:

“It was a great validation, to hear someone who had perspective on both sides. Because I knew what he was talking about. Race in this country is still the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss.”

The singer describes his new work as “completely happy,” and says it’s the first of his albums not to have at least one darker track. But music isn’t the only project on which Kravitz has been toiling away. In Hunger Games, he says he was grateful to be able to flex his stage muscles once again:

“I play a character named Cinna, who’s sort of a nurturing Svengali. The thing I love about acting is that it’s got nothing to do with me; it’s about bringing forth a director’s vision. It’s like a release. I’m glad it’s come back into my life.”

Hunger Games isn’t due out until March 23rd, but Black and White is on sale today.