Letitia VanSant is a singer-songwriter known for her distinctly intimate voice and sincere stage presence. Whether she is performing solo or backed up by a three-piece band, VanSant's sound ranges from stripped-down indie folk to gritty Americana. Her lyrics ask spiritual questions about human nature and justice.
After the creation of her debut album in 2012, she became a favorite of local Baltimore radio station 89.7 WTMD, and listeners voted her song song "Rising Tide" among the most popular of the year. She is a winner of the 2017 Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Competition, a 2017 Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist, and the winner of the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest for folk.
She is currently in the process of recording her third studio album, Gut it to the Studs. It is being produced by upright bassist Alex Lacquement, ( Bumper Jacksons).
VanSant's previous 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 who helped transform her repertoire into a bold, complex sound rich with full-throated vocal harmonies.
Her real name is Letitia VanSant Robson, but most people in her personal life know her by the nickname "Sandy." She hosts house concerts at her home in Baltimore, otherwise known as Montebello Ranch.
She has opened for many excellent national acts including Grammy-nominated Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, the Stray Birds, Joseph Arthur, Miss Tess & the Talkbacks, Nora Jane Struthers, the Honey Dewdrops, Dustbowl Revival, I Draw Slow, the Bumper Jacksons, Larry Keel, Cris Jacobs, Laney Jones & the Spirits, Jared & the Mill, and many more.
She's played at venues like Merriweather Post Pavillion's Chrysalis Stage, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, WTMD's 1st Thursday Concerts and Live Lunch, the Creative Alliance, the Hamilton DC, the Strathmore Amp, the Charm City Bluegrass & Folk Festival, Gypsy Sally's, a NERFA quad showcase, the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, Center Stage, the Black Cat, Jammin' Java, and Iota Club & Cafe. (Although in the end, house concerts remain her favorite :).
She is an admirer of songwriters like Hazel Dickens, Nina Simone, Mary Gauthier, Anais Mitchell, Rihannon Giddens, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, Loretta Lynn, and many more.
NOW IF YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW...
Letitia grew up in and around Baltimore and attended Macalester College in Minnesota, where she began to write songs but sang them only in the privacy of her dorm room. It wasn’t until she had moved back to Baltimore that a friend pushed her to sing at an open mic at the Parkside Restaurant, where she worked at the time. Within a couple of years she joined an indie-rock band called House & Home and simultaneously the Highstrung Bluegrass Band.
It wasn't long before she'd recorded her first solo album, named“Breakfast Truce” after the informal, early-morning truces respected by both sides of the trench warfare during World War I. The album's title track is about acting with faith rather than fear.
“VanSant’s voice is the most striking aspect of the record,” the Baltimore City Paper wrote when the album was released in 2012. “It is part Iris DeMent with a little Dolly Parton (and maybe even some Rose Maddox) thrown in. But after repeated listens, the quality of her songwriting begins to come out. She’s a clever woman with a lot to say.”
Soon after “Breakfast Truce” was released, she moved into a group house with her friends Will and David McKindley-Ward, brothers raised by folk-music-singing, community-activist parents, whose idea of a good bedtime story was a mining disaster song. Many front-porch picking sessions ensued, and they played in a band called Letitia VanSant and the Bonafides together with their neighbor Tom Liddle for a few years. "I learned a greater reverence for traditional folk music from them,” she says. Soon after, she attended a country harmony workshop that piqued her interest in American roots music, and thus began her re-education--from classic country at Augusta Heritage Center to old time banjo at Clifftop music festival.
Before she started to pursue music in 2015, she spent five years working for a peace and social justice advocacy group in Washington, DC.
“Our generation is so tired of all the consumerism around us that we’re looking for things that are authentic, that connect to what came before us, that feel real." -- LVS