“Artist Watch": Andra Day

Listening to Andra Day is like being at an MTV Unplugged session it's intimate, captivating, and just what you needed to hear in that moment.

Andra Day is a 31-year-old African-American singer-songwriter from San Diego, California. She released her debut album Cheers to the Fall in 2015.

With this accomplishment she also garnered two nominations at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards for Best R&B Performance for “Rise Up” and Best R&B album for “Cheers to the Fall”.

She has released one studio album and two singles in her career thus far but while listening to “Rise up” specifically, you could hear her honesty. It shows that her passion for music has a clear focus of empowerment. She has definitely made a vocal style of her own.

“When I was really young first being introduced to big voices like Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’…. seeing that and thinking wow that’s what I want to do,” said Day in an Essence Interview in 2015.

With R&B there are multi-genre capabilities but with Day the message is clear in “Cheers to the Fall”.  The album is about optimism over the melodic but aggressive delivery of Day’s voice. It’s consistent, emotional, and balanced. 

The album is worth the forty-nine minutes and forty-four seconds because Day has control in the depth of her voice. It’s interesting because you would imagine more variant sounds throughout the album. 

She has an obvious likability. Her sound is not one that cannot be appreciated through the radio because it is that rare. 

Her Rosie the Riveter style, and Billie Holiday confidence are reminiscent of Amy Winehouse. Day’s retro glamour is perfect not only for her genre but shows that the classic-red lip and bold bob are always trendy.

Recently, at their tour stop in Orlando, Fla., Demi Lovato, and Nick Jonas honored the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting with a performance of “Rise Up” with Andra Day, Saturday night (July 2), as reported by Billboard.

In addition, at the PBS music series Austin City Limits in June. Day led the crowd in joining the chorus of her song in solidarity with those affected by the massacre.

“We can lift up our voices and our hearts in such a way that their families and the people in Orlando and just around the country affected by this, will, for a moment at least, feel some type of comfort,” the singer said onstage Sunday night. “I truly believe our voices are so much more powerful as one”, Day said in a Billboard.com interview on June 13.

Her soulful voice and groove can be attributed to her spiritual upbringing,  in which she sang contemporary Christian music in church, and while studying at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. She majored in Vocal Performance.

Day began to perform in local nightclubs, when Stevie Wonder discovered her.  Later, Wonder introduced her to Adrian Gurvitz, who signed her to his production company Buskin, reported by Rolling Stone Magazine.

Stevie Wonder played a significant roll in helping Day get signed to a national record deal with Warner Brothers Records.

Her fusion of jazz, soul, and Motown, in her covers Muse's "Uprising," Jessie J's "Mamma Knows Best" and a mashup of Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)" and Amy Winehouse's "He Can Only Hold Her” are what grab your attention.

"Whichever chord progressions move me, whether it's rock, jazz, doo-wop or soul, I'm going to put it together and not be worried about whether people can put it in a lane or not,” she said in a Rolling Stone interview in 2015.

Day has had a year full of excitement, from performing at the 2016 Grammy Awards, PBS Austin City-Limits, and Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee, she will kick off her 2016 North American Tour.

 The tour is 18 cities long, is coast to coast, and will conclude on Dec. 7 with a show in Houston, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

This year she also was apart of the 2016 Essence Festival presented By Coca-Cola at Kingsway Mansion on Thursday (June 30) in New Orleans, La.

NPR’s First Watch series says that Andra Day walks the the line between reverence and relevant, using both to her advantage. 

It is agreed, that her combination of soul, and jazz with the focus of being an R&B singer makes her aesthetic more than just trendy but an effortless cool. 

Her elegance, and wide ranging voice may be trademarks of the past but Day’s talent proves that she is more than just a fresh face. Whether is performing at the White House or belting a ballad with her band,  she is not your regular R&B songstress. 

Andra Day is a person you listen to sing and wish you were born in another decade. There's no limit for Andra Day, she continues to rise up, and we're all in awe to see where she will go next.