On the day we talk, Deva Mahal is in a good space.
She's hanging in New Orleans, writing some new music tracks and laying down a few of them. She's far from her home in New York City, and enjoying the warm Louisiana weather and hospitality.
Make no mistake, she's a hot property.
Mahal will make her Australian debut at Bluesfest, appearing with her own band - a mixture of New Yorkers and New Zealanders. And watch out, she says, "there may be a few surprises" with her and other collaborators at Bluesfest.
While she was born in Hawaii, the daughter of American blues legend Taj Mahal and Inshirah Mahal, her childhood was no breeze, life taking her to Oregon and then to New Zealand, before she made her way back to the US, and eventually New York, where she's spent a decade paying her dues before finally getting an album out last year.
The album, Run Deep, is a pearl. Mahal has a magical voice, the best of old style and youthful enthusiasm. The album, produced by Scott Jacoby (who's worked with Coldplay, Jason Mraz and Vampire Weekend), is polished with songs that are strong lyrically and musically.
The vibe jumps from classic soul to modern R n B, with a dose of hip hop and some snazzy jazz lines. It is indicative of the kind of musicians and singers she's been keeping company with. Her New Orleans visit includes a show with Mykia Jovan, one of the most chill voices you'll ever hear.
Among the talent Deva has hung with: Sharon Jones (of Dap Kings fame), Allen Stone (who will be at Bluesfest), Fat Freddy's Drop (also at Bluesfest).
Mahal's own DNA is clearly stamped on the album, sharing notable co-writes on the title song and Can't Call It Love, which carries the line, "You need to show me R-E-S-P-E-C-T", a clear nod to Aretha Franklin, who she calls "The Queen, the queen of everything" in the course of our interview).
Whether it is in spite of, or because of her famous father, Deva has chosen to go her own way. Her social media calls out support for convicted teenage killer Cyntoia Brown (an underage hooker convicted of murder granted clemency from a Tennessee prison) and shows her dancing in her underwear in her New York apartment ("I believe everybody should dance around in their house, show reckless abandon," she tells me.)
Childhood was not easy, she says. "Normal is not a word I would use to describe my upbringing. Diverse. Exciting. Emotional. Heartbreaking. Very challenging sometimes," she says.
"My parents split up when I was really young. I went from living in a decent family home to living in a tin roof house in high school," she says.
Siblings died. She was bullied - hit by racism and prejudice.
"I did not fit in for a long time," she says. "I don't fit in today."
And thus, her music tells a story.