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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC 'Cheers' to Andra Day
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2016-03-14

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Miss Cassandra "Andra" Day is making a big splash in the music pool with strong vocals and a stunning look.

She is yet another success story straight from YouTube after a cover of Jessie J's "Momma Knows Best" that eventually landed her a deal with Warner Bros.

Her album, Cheers to the Fall, was released last year and had Spike Lee directing the music video for the first single, "Forever Mine."

She sings on the soundtrack for the Nina Simone documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? and was featured on an Apple commercial with the legendary Stevie Wonder for "Someday at Christmas."

She received two nominations at the 58th Grammy Awards and performed a duet with Ellie Goulding combining their singles together that made people "Rise Up" and take notice.

Day recently rocked it onstage with other artists such as Katy Perry and Elton John at a fundraiser for Hilary Clinton at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

The singer answered a few questions for Windy City Times before her arrival in Chicago.

Windy City Times: Hi, Andra. What is your favorite part of touring?

Andra Day: My favorite part about touring is being on the road with my band. We have a unique comradery, everything is very natural. I also love meeting the fans, or "my family." which is what I call them. They tell me often how the music has effected them and I get to connect with them spiritually and emotionally. We'll talk, laugh and pray together; we encourage each other. It's pretty amazing.

WCT: "Not Today" is about not giving up on love, correct? Does it come from a personal place?

AD: "Not Today" comes from an personal observation and a personal place. Witnessing my producer and his wife's marriage, through the ups and the downs and them sticking through it was an inspiration for this song. Also, my father's relationship with myself and my siblings, and my mother's relationship with God. These are all relationships that inspired me to write this song.

WCT: How was your Grammy experience? Did you get to know Ellie Goulding a little bit while working that segment?

AD: It was amazing. I did get to know her and I couldn't be happier that I did. We did our own independent rehearsal before the official Grammy rehearsals, and I swear we did more laughing and clowning than work. She is an incredible talent and an incredible person. I truly gained a friend from that experience.

WCT: What is the inspiration for the song "Rise Up" that has been inspiring to so many people? The song "Rise Up" seems to go hand in hand with so many LGBT anthems.

AD: I think "Rise Up" resonates with so many people, including the LGBT community, because it talks about perseverance. It talks about persevering through struggle, criticism and rejection. It's a simple message of determination for yourself and others, and I think the simplicity of that is what resonates with people the most.

WCT: I just watched the Nina Simone doc. Are you a huge fan of hers? How intimidating is it to perform "Mississippi Goddamn" live?

AD: I'm a huge fan of Nina Simone. When we first performed Mississippi Goddamn I was very intimated. That song came off of the heels of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that happened in 1963, and was a direct outpouring of her anger with regard to that attack. It's a lot of emotion to sort of re-convey.

Unfortunately there are a lot of events that have happened recently that draw out those same emotions, and we also do a different rendition of the song, so instead of being intimidating, it becomes a new genuine experience.

WCT: You have a song in the Meru movie. Do you have more soundtracks in the works?

AD: There are a few things we are working on. I'm not able to talk about them right now but I plan to dabble more in soundtracks and get more involved in pictures that I really believe in throughout my career.

WCT: Cheers to the Fall seems like a perfect live album. What is a live show like for people that haven't seen you yet?

AD: The live show is very raw, emotional and engaging. I've seen people connect with the music on such an intimate level. It's a chance to encourage people.

Andra Day brightens the night at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., on Friday, March 15. Visit andraday.com/CheersToTheFall for more information .


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