Published on July 29th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Avery*Sunshine On Her New Album, Philosophy & More From The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival
A singer/songwriter who smartly melds together soul, gospel, R&B, pop and jazz, Avery*Sunshine is the rare sort of artist that can effortlessly perform at a presidential inauguration, a jazz club, a festival and a theater. Her debut album in 2010 — which came after years of touring and recording alongside other artists — featured guest appearances by Roy Ayers and Christian McBride, while 2014’s The Sun Room hit number three on the Heatseekers chart of Billboard. The latest album from Avery*Sunshine is Twenty Sixty Four, as released last year and featuring the lead single “Come Do Nothing.”
While in town for the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, I had the pleasure of spending a few minutes backstage with Avery*Sunshine before her headlining performance. She was simultaneously warm, funny and quick-witted. More on Avery*Sunshine can be found online at www.averysunshine.com.
Avery*Sunshine: No, other than saying that I have a degree in philosophy. That’s it. (laughs) I guess the critical thinking maybe makes me a little too critical of what I’m doing. Sometimes it keeps me from moving forward because I’m analyzing everything, I get caught in the “analysis paralysis.” Other than that, no. (laughs)
You started off as a music major, though, and everyone knows you to be a great piano player. Did you almost take up guitar or another instrument?
Avery*Sunshine: No way. I can’t play anything else. Later in life I tried Hammond, don’t even worry about it! I tried organ, don’t even worry about it!
Was there a particular artist that directly inspired you to take up piano?
Avery*Sunshine: Yeah, Joe Sample. My aunt took me to a show, I had to have been 13. To see someone play like that… I think it was the same year I saw Joe Sample, almost as close as we are, in a club in Philly. I was looking up at him and he looked like a god in the way he played. I was mesmerized. In the same year an uncle took me to see Ramsey Lewis and Billy Taylor. They did a two-piano thing, it was in Wilmington, Delaware. Another opportunity that I had no idea would be cementing stuff inside of me. Those are the artists that when I saw them play, I knew I wanted to play.
What can you tell me about your latest studio album?
Avery*Sunshine: Twenty Sixty Four, we just released it in the States, we released it last year in Europe.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Avery*Sunshine: Yeah, “The Ice Cream Song.”
Will you be playing it tonight?
Avery*Sunshine: Abso-freakin’-lutely. I’m going to be doing four or five songs from the album.
So finally, any last words for the kids?
Avery*Sunshine: After I said “freakin’,” right? (laughs) Don’t curse! But do the thing you were created to do, and don’t let anybody tell you what they think you should do. You know what you should do, do that and you’ll be happy.