“I love people,” she exclaims. “What I love about the University of San Diego is the diversity and to just accept people for who they are and what they bring. I don’t care if you’re Catholic or Muslim. At the end of the day, what I leave with is, ‘Did I show somebody love? Did somebody feel loved or cared about by Lanee’ Battle? What impression are you going to leave upon other people?’ That’s the bottom line.”
It’s not an act. It’s real. It’s as real as real gets. At a time when students were preparing for final exams or in the midst of final projects in December, surely a few USD students stopped by the Center for Inclusion and Diversity for some de-stress time with the part-time executive assistant.
“Lanee’ is a delight to have here in the center,” said Carlton Floyd, PhD, co-CID director, associate provost for Inclusion and Diversity and associate professor of English. “She’s cultivated a sense of inclusiveness and belonging. People stop in all the time just to say ‘hello’ to her and then she’ll be sure to introduce them to everyone. People leave here with a sense that this is a place they’re welcome to return to at any time.”
If expressing kindness and a caring nature are signature traits at USD, then one should hear Battle sing. Better yet, it is possible to hear the Huntsville, Ala., native perform in her “sultry, jazzy” voice on two full-length albums, including her newest “This Is My Story,” released earlier this month.
Along the way the veteran performer has worked with artists like B.B. King and Etta James and most recently, sang back-up vocals for Keri Hilson and Sugarland at a VH1 Divas Salute the Troops TV special. She has performed at many USD events, including the All Faith Service, the President’s USD Employee Christmas Party and doing a rousing rendition of the national anthem at Torero athletics events. She does it all while displaying her unconditional love for God.
“My singing is definitely my inspiration, it’s a gift from God,” said Battle, whose styles incorporate everything from contemporary gospel, jazz and R&B soul. “It’s very natural.”
Battle grew up with music in her house and at church. Her mother sings in the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir that has traveled across the nation, to Europe and has even played New York’s Carnegie Hall. Singing in church and playing the flute were activities for Lanee’ in her youth.
When the family moved to Fresno, Calif., in the early 1980s, she continued her passion for music and also used it to ease the culture shock of living in a new state. Her family moved to San Diego where she ultimately graduated from Mira Mesa High. She attended Fresno State briefly, opting instead to become a licensed pharmacy technician. All the while, music remained a constant.
She worked in USD’s Department of Human Resources for eight years and released her first album, 2002’s “There R Times.” Battle left USD this past June to focus full-time on her music, but when she was asked to help the Center for Inclusion and Diversity launch this fall, she accepted.
“I love the center. When I worked in HR, I worked primarily with staff, administrators and professors. Here in the center I’m able to connect with the students,” she said. “They seem to gravitate toward me. I’m young at heart. I’m always singing and I tend to bring things out of people. I’m an encourager. I love to encourage people.”
Singing encourages Battle to be at her best, too. She writes or co-writes most all of her songs and finds inspiration in everything. “I want people to hear the love that I have in my heart. I like to tell stories. I want people to hear the stories from my heart. I want them to hear the joy I have from the lyrics I sing and the melodies they hear. I want to soothe people.”
Her latest CD, which took two years to finish, brings audiences up close. “Every song on the project sums up my life.”
Influenced by Aretha Franklin, Dorothy Dandridge, Anita Baker, Yolanda Adams and Lalah Hathaway, the independent artist continues to expand her career. Battle plays private parties, churches, weddings and local San Diego venues such as Anthology, House of Blues and Humphrey’s by the Bay. She has aspirations of doing more travel in the U.S. and internationally. “I love being able to go from place to place. I love the diversity, to be all over the place so different people can come experience the music and I make new contacts. Just give me a microphone, a good sound system, a great band if you’ve got one and I’m ready.”
But does she have a dream venue? “To sing at the White House would be absolutely fantastic, it would be a great goal to reach. I’ll have to send up some prayers.”
— Ryan T. Blystone
Check out Lanee’ Battle’s music and more at www.laneebattle.com
Photo courtesy of Lanee’ Battle