If you’re anything like me, the closing of one year and the beginning of another often serves as the catalyst for reflection and seeking what’s next. So, as my focus shifts toward 2011, I’ve set some goals for myself and the Hear What I Hear blog. I’m challenging myself to be better than ever before and not become complacent with the status quo!
So with this in mind, keep your eyes open and ears perched, as we continue on with this musical adventure!
The 4th Christmas gift I have for you is deliciously exciting and in my opinion…the best one yet! I recently had the opportunity to chat with the extraordinarily talented Avery*Sunshine. Continue reading to learn more about who she is and the bright light she’s shining, as she sets the world aglow!
Hear What I Hear (HWIH): First of all…CONGRATULATIONS on receiving the SoulTracks Readers Choice Award for Best New Artist and for also being named as one of iTunes Best New R&B Artist for 2010! God has blessed you tremendously this year! But in light of all your recent successes, tell us what the journey has been like.
Avery*Sunshine (A*S): This journey has been 8 years in the making. As a matter of fact I was having this conversation recently with my business partner, Dana Johnson. It was like at the moment we decided to do what God would have us do; everything began to fall in place. And when I say everything, I do mean EVERYTHING… from people to places to stuff. In 2008-2009, we were working. We were sowing. And honestly, if there were things around us that were bad, we didn’t notice because God has been that good to us.
HWIH: Since you’ve been here in Atlanta for a while, tell me what your experience has been like with the music community.
A*S: The Atlanta music community has embraced me. Actually, we’re supportive of one another, even though there are times when the industry–as a whole –has a tendency to become very competitive.
HWIH: As a single mother of two and an artist, how are you balancing it all?
A*S: It gets a little bit rough, but God is working it out. Between my manager, Fiona Bloom, my parents, and Dana —we’re doing what we have to do. And here’s the thing…Dana and I are both still working our full-time jobs. Believe it or not, I’m still the choir director and pianist at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.
HWIH: What do you kids think about your music career and successes?
A*S: Evan, my 8-year old son, is elated about it! In fact, he debuted during one of my recent shows. He plays the drums really well. Drew, my 10-year old daughter, is equally talented and plays the trumpet and the piano as well.
HWIH: Wow, it seems like music is in the genes! Where does this influence come from? Are your parents musicians too?
A*S: Growing up, neither one of my parents really sang; they were just lovers of music. They loved to dance and would always have house parties. And because of their passion, I had the benefit of being exposed to the best music. I grew up listening to The Whispers and Marvin Gaye.
HWIH: Describe your creative process when writing.
A*S: A song can come to me whether it’s at church or on a plane. There have been times where I’ve even gotten songs in my dreams, but wouldn’t wake myself up to write them down. Then the next morning, I’d wake up and not remember A THING! So now, I keep my iPhone by the bed so that I can sing the lyrics, hum the melody—instantly.
HWIH: Does it help to play an instrument?
A*S: Absolutely. That’s why I wanted my children to play. As a serious writer it helps to play an instrument, but for me it can also be somewhat a crutch. I can get comfortable playing the same chords and not experimenting with new sounds.
HWIH: What’s your favorite song (s) on the album?
A*S: Pinin’. It’s a fun tune about having messed up on a love and you didn’t realize it until years have gone by and you look back and say, man I messed that up.
HWIH: Of all the many places where you sing, whether it’s in the studio or in front of a crowd, what’s that magical place for you?
A*S: For me the stage is that place—bottom line. The stage can translate to the pulpit at the church or in any other spot with an audience. There are two places I feel most comfortable—with my children and on stage.
HWIH: Tell us about your label, Big Shine Music.
A*S: We are very small and INDEPENDENT in every sense of the word. Since we don’t have radio to help push our music, we rely heavily on CD sales. We also depend on social media tools like Facebook, myspace, and iTunes, which allow you to connect with everybody.
HWIH: It’s apparent that you’re deeply rooted in your relationship with Christ and that you are always mindful to acknowledge Him in everything you do. But for those that don’t have that type of relationship with Him, nor understand who He is—what advice would you give to help them grow in this area of their lives?
A*S: Focus on God. Don’t focus on the people or the church. Just focus on God. I have so much peace as I’m focusing on Him. Daily I’m asking Him, ‘where do you want me to go?’ ‘What scripture do you want me to read?’ SEEK HIM FIRST! Seek GOD first. And everything will fall into place. God will do exceeding abundantly above and beyond whatever we can think or imagine. I’m a witness!
HWIH: Before we wrap this up, I gotta ask the million dollar question. Is your name really Avery *Sunshine?
A*S: Ha! Absolutely not! My real name is Denise Nicole White! My parents named me after actress Denise Nicholas! I came up with the name “Avery*Sunshine” when I was first getting started. Once, while in Japan for a performance, I was asked before going on stage, ‘…who do you want to be?’ In that moment, I had absolutely no idea, and blurted out AVERY SUNSHINE! I believe it comes from my love of Shug Avery from The Color Purple and my admiration for Sunshine from the movie Harlem Nights!
There you have it folks! If you haven’t picked up one of the most talked about CDs of 2010…go get the Avery*Sunshine project today. Matter of fact, BUY several copies! It makes the perfect stocking stuffer!
Until the next time,