Avery Sunshine: Exceeding Expectations

In the wake of Avery Sunshine’s debut solo release, a self titled ‘therapeutic’ blend of R&B, Soul, Jazz, and Gospel, the Atlanta based singer, songwriter and pianist took some time to talk to SoulCulture about her new project and the organic creative process behind it and evaluate her dream list of future collaborations, having already worked with the likes of Chaka Khan and Roy Ayers.

“I like to call it therapeutic music. It’s my form of therapy anyway…” she says. “The album definitely exceeded what I thought I could do or even wanted to do. I’m most proud of that. Thanks to the team, we ended up making 93 on Billboard’s Top 100 albums… and we’re independent!  We did the project thinking it would be good and that people would like it but I don’t think we were expecting something like that so soon…”

Avery began singing in church in Chester PA, and is now a multi-talented artist having gone on to become a successful singer, pianist, composer and vocal arranger/director.  I quiz her about cutting her teeth in church, finding inspiration and her approach to making music.

“All those years of church, in choir’s absolutely prepared me for this point right now. Being dedicated being consistent. The work ethic, doing rehearsals two or three times a week is something I’ve always done so there hasn’t had to be any adjustment to where I’m at now. In that way it prepared me. I never even realised I was going to be an artist, I never thought about being an artist; I thought I was going to be in the background.“

Despite the assumption that she would be in the background Avery recalls an early memory of being inspired to perform and play the piano. “I remember seeing a classmate, Talaya, she was playing piano at a school recital and I remember telling my mother, ‘I want to do that!’ – I knew at that moment that’s what I wanted to do. I was eight years old.”

Avery ponders on her creative process.

“It’s organic. I do it with my partner Dana Johnson. He might play some chords on the guitar and I stay, ‘Stop… I got an idea.’ Or I’ll just fool around with something on the keyboard. One time I called him up and said, ‘Hey I just got a hook, that’s it,’ and ten minutes later we had a complete song. Sometimes it just happens like that. It’s very organic.

“We were writing in the car on the way to Atlanta… I was driving and he was on his guitar and we wrote a Christmas tune. That’s what’s so great about our relationship we can write anywhere, we work together at church, on Avery Sunshine stuff. Even when we’re not together – last week he called with something he did and I recorded it into Garage Band over the phone, I put some vocals on it and now we got a new tune!”

“With the next project we want to do something with a clear idea ‘cause with this one we were just like, ‘God, whatever you give us we’re just going to put it out there.’ A theme maybe?”

Her musical career so far has seen her collaborate and work alongside an enviously long list of colossal talents like Chaka Khan and Karen Clark-Sheard. I encourage her to recall some favourites. “Wow. There are so many. I would have to say Michael Buble, Jennifer Haliday, definitely Roy Ayers who was so gracious and kind to not only play on the album but to allow us to take a piece of ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine.’ He’s such a giving spirit.”

“Now if I have my wish list there are a few people! Michael McDonald, a gospel guy by the name of Marvin Winan – if people don’t know about the Winans please, please check them out! – and the last one clearly has got to be Prince!”

“The immediate future is to just tour as much as we possibly can… you know, get the music out. I’m hoping to get to Paris and Holland and really move around.”

–Matt Hamilton

Tomorrow night on November 4th Avery Sunshine will be hitting Camden’s Jazz Café for a one-off gig to promote her debut album, joined by the unique and talented Anthony David.

Avery Sunshine‘s self-titled album is out via Dome Records now; buy from Amazon or HMV.

Avery Sunshine online: averysunshine.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / MySpace