Two years ago, I attended a Ledisi concert when it was announced that soul singer, Avery*Sunshine would be opening the show momentarily. For many of us in the sold out audience, we were already believers of the Sunshine Gospel and this combination of her and Ledisi was heaven on earth. For the non-believer, she was just the space between them and the one whose name was prominently place on the outside marquee.
After a few cocktails and a bucket of popcorn, the lights went down and there in the middle of the stage and under the spotlight was Ms. Avery Sunshine; sitting behind her keyboard, wearing one of her publicity shirts, jeans, fitted cap and bright orange scarf. With one powerful stroke of the keys, Avery*Sunshine transported us down soul music lane with her rendition of DAngelo’s Lady, Jill Scott’s He Loves Me and the Gap Band’s Outstanding. But the highlight of the performance was Avery’s testimony of how she had just been asked by the venue management 30 minutes prior to come and open the show.
I believe it was that moment of humility that all non-believers of the Sunshine Gospel were converted. So much so, that the three boxes of CD’s Avery had brought with her to sell were all gone by the time she sang her last note!
RayCornelius.com had an opportunity to chat with Avery*Sunshine about her album, her collaborations with a litany of soul music “who’s who” and why inspiration can be found in everything.
RC: The video for your single, “All In My Head” is a favorite on The Centric Network’s Soul Player music show. How did that song come about?
AS: Wow! I was just talking to someone the other day about this. I have a good musician friend by the name of Takana Miyamoto. My music partner, Dana and I were at her house. We walked in and saw that she had this Yamaha Baby Grand. Anytime there is a piano honey, I get excited! And so I sat down at the piano and the first three cords of the song, “All In My Head,” just came out. And there was just something about it.
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RC: The first time I ever saw you perform was two summers ago in the musical drama, I DREAM, where you played the Grandma King. Do you have any plans to return to acting stage?
AS: I hope so! I really found another voice there. And I love the stage. My mother used to take me to all the ‘chitlin circuit’ plays back in the day. Mama I Want to Sing! Your Arms Are Too Short to Box with God! I do believe part of my love for music started there, seeing these people come out and bare their souls. There is nothing like seeing a ‘chitlin circuit ‘singer coming out on stage and letting you have it!
RC: One of the things that read about you is that you find inspiration everywhere like sitting in a car or through a conversation. Is this true?
AS: Absolutely! I feel in all those things that’s God speaking to us. A lot of us think that God speaks to us in one way. Not so! I think that’s why we need to embrace the world and all of its energy. I might look at the front door and think of walking out. See! That’s a song right there about my baby daddy. (LOL) you know what I mean? There is inspiration in everything.
RC: Who is Avery*Sunshine rocking to in her iPod right now?
AS: I am listening to Carole King, Andre Crouch. I know this may sound crazy but I’m listening to Jesse J. My daughter tells me I have to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening. She’s 11 years old. How about that? (LOL)
RC: You travel a lot to Europe and have a very large fan base in London. What’s the difference between your British fans opposed to your American fans?
AS: Wow! I don’t know if they’re that much different. But I will say this, when you walk on the stage, before you open your mouth, the British fans are going in! (Screams) But here in the states the fans are like, “You betta prove something! Whatcha Gon Do? Whatcha Gon Do?” But truthfully, both audiences receive me well.
RC: So a crowd’s energy can definitely affect your energy?
AS: Absolutely! I was somewhere a couple of weeks ago and before I walked out, the sound man was already asleep. I was like, “Lord! What are you trying to tell me?” (LOL) Hilarious! So when it came time to do my show, honey I went in! I said, “He ain’t gonna sleep on my show tonight! Not Tonight!
RC: A year ago you mentioned in another interview that you were a “slave to love” and hinted that you might be in love. Is Avery*Sunshine still in love?
AS: (LOL) Yeah, I am! I just got off the phone with him actually. You know, I’ve learned that you have to give up some stuff to be in love. And that’s what no one really tells you. They also don’t tell you that it’s still ok. I feel like I grew up thinking love was gonna be either black or white. And it’s really not either. Both people have to give a little in love.
Here is something to bring it on in. I have had my space for a very long time and some of it, I have to give up. Plus coming out of the marriage that I was in, I was thinking that if I have to give some of that up, I’m giving some of me up! Me! Then it’s like, that’s not me. Do you want to be alone in all this space or do you want a loving relationship? What do you want?
RC: Is there a new album on the horizon?
AS: Well! We’re working on stuff. We’re trying to find ourselves. In the meantime, we’re doing some collaborations. We just finished collaboration with Raheem DeVaughn. I’m also working with Frank McComb as well as Daniel Moore.
RC: In one word, define the Avery*Sunshine sound.
AS: Home! Like walking through the front door and there is that familiar smell. I feel home when I listen to artists like D’Angelo or Earth, Wind and Fire. I feel like I’m at home and it makes me wanna dance. It makes me wanna go out and do this (singing), so that I can continue to enjoy home.
Here is Avery*Sunshine performing recently at the Morehouse College Founder’s Day Concert. Enjoy!
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