Andra Day uses her songwriting and voice as vessels to freedom and redemption. The lyrics on her debut album Cheers to the Fall highlight the lessons learned through trial and error while rising to the occasion in the wake of those setbacks. For this woman with a throwback voice in a modern era, it’s her truth that may set you free.
As a kid growing up in San Diego, she sang in the church choir and studied, dance, theater and music at the School of Creative and Performing Arts. By 16 years old, Andra knew she wanted to sing professionally. Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, Lauryn Hill and Janis Joplin were the women whose voices spoke to Andra and her own raspy, full-bodied alto as they poured their very being into records.
Andra learned early that sharing her voice could only bring great things, especially after she had a chance encounter with Stevie Wonder’s wife Kai. Mrs. Wonder heard the SoCal native singing at a local store opening and shared her music with the author of Innervisions, then Stevie himself reached out and put her in touch with songwriter-producer Adrian Gurvitz (The Bodyguard).
Day would spend the next few years building a following on YouTube with left-of-center covers of artists like Eminem and Muse, as well as recording tracks with Ziggy Marley and the Dap-Kings and was eventually signed by Warner Bros. Records. It was at this time she came into contact with heavy-weight soul man Raphael Saadiq who joined her in the studio to sharpen the nearly 40 songs she had amassed.
She describes her 13-song debut as “a biography told in the form of music” with themes centered on truth, fearlessness, vulnerability, forgiveness and love following the heartbreak she caused and subsequently endured. Andra hopes the lessons learned from the aftermath of these decisions will empower others to find strength and redemption in their Truth.
The chanteuse has since gone on to bless audiences with show-stealing performances at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, 2015 BET Awards, Cannes, ESSENCE Music Festival, McDonalds 365 Black Awards, the Closing Ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics, Good Morning America, LIVE with Jimmy Kimmel, Live with Kelly & Michael, Wendy Williams, A&E’s Shining A Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America with Nick Jonas, the 89th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, and more. She has performed around the world alongside artists like ?uestlove, Common, Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, and Patti Labelle, and earned the praise of artists like Alicia Keys, Ryan Tedder, Jennifer Hudson, Aloe Blacc, diehard music fan Ellen DeGeneres, and even famed-director Spike Lee who directed Cheers to the Fall’s first video, “Forever Mine.” Andra has also contributed to the soundtrack for the Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, singing “Mississippi Goddam” alongside rapper J. Cole’s rhymes on the track. GAP included the singer-songwriter in their 2014 international #SummerLove campaign thanks to her signature rockabilly style. The look has been an integral piece of her creative genetics since her teenage years.
With its universal and uplifting message, her current single and the album’s crown jewel “Rise Up” continues to resonate with listeners from all walks of life. Apple Music’s Jimmy Iovine called her “the latest thing” in an interview with WIRED after revealing the song “stopped me in my tracks.” Moved by the empowering anthem, Beats By Dre selected “Rise Up” to appear in a new campaign that aired during the U.S. Open featuring tennis superstar Serena Williams.
In the fall, Day appeared on tour with Lenny Kravitz’ for her first national tour run, completed her first sold-out headline tour, and provided the end title track for the climber drama Meru. She joined in the on the holiday spirit in an Apple commercial with mentor Stevie Wonder where they performed “Someday At Christmas” and participated in the First Family’s National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in DC.
The singer/songwriter has been nominated for “Best R&B Performance” (“Rise Up”) and “Best R&B Album” (Cheers to the Fall) at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, as well as “Outstanding New Artist” for the 47th NAACP Image Awards. She also ignited the stage during a duet with Ellie Goulding, pairing “Rise Up” with the latter’s “Love Me Like You Do” for one of the evening’s standout performances.
With a vintage flair and a voice for the ages, Andra Day is ready to take her place in the pantheon of soulful vocalists and deliver her truth to the world.
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