A few hundred feet below Avenue A in New York City, Drom provided the intimate atmosphere needed for an evening with Avery*Sunshine. From the moment she stepped onstage to the very last CD she signed, you never got the feeling that you weren’t family to the Chester, PA native, ATL resident, as she laughed, joked, shared and relived moments many of us have similar memories of. The ever-present smile on Avery*Sunshine’s face eased the tedium of your 9-5, because on this night, your worries were left at the top of the stairway and you were in the presence of the one of the brightest lights in music.
Oh yeah, she sings too…
The opening lines from her debut single “All in My Head” drew a rousing response from the audience as she belted out the familiar story of misconstrued relationship speak, but it was the transition into Anita Baker’s timeless classic “Sweet Love” that put me on notice that we were in for a special evening. There’s something about Avery*Sunshine that separates her from other artists; it’s more than her amazing vocal range, it has much to do with who she is as a woman and how she connects to those in her presence, in your iPod or in-person. To this point, she moved from behind her piano and photographed each section of the audience with her phone before casually sitting down to resume the show.
It’s those moments and the stories in her songs that relate Avery*Sunshine to the everyday fan; they may not all be her stories, but they are stories that you and I have lived. For instance, “Pinin’” tells the story of a relationship that’s run its course and years later, she’s still aching over that man or as the old folks say, pining. Tell me you haven’t been there. To hear her sing it live is to know her pain, know her struggle with moving forth, you know it’s real.
Nestled in a corner area stage right were members of her family, including sister Maia Wilson (currently performing in Book of Mormon on Broadway) and her niece who was celebrating a birthday. They would come to play a prominent part in the night’s festivities as the show was interrupted when the venue’s staff brought out a birthday cake and Ms. Sunshine stopped the music to sing “Happy Birthday”, before promptly picking up right where she left off. It was also the calls from that corner of the room that turned our Thursday night into revival. Showing off her background leading some of the most dynamic choirs on the East Coast, she led her family and the audience through “Blessin’ Me” from her debut album and the Gospel mainstay, “Safe in His Arms”, the latter bringing most of the crowd to its feet in praise…not for her, but for the God who made it possible for them to be at Drom that night.
The emotions were running high and the time low, but there were enough ticks remaining to go into “Ugly Part of Me”, her latest release. We learned during her prelude that radio programmers didn’t believe she had a radio friendly song on 2010’s Avery*Sunshine, but nearly two years later, “Ugly Part of Me” is in rotation around the country and the video is on VH1-Soul and other stations. However, you won’t hear the rousing version she performed in New York City anywhere else, nor will that version have the special appearance her sister made. It was truly a beautiful moment in music to hear their voices mesh to make magic.
“I Got Sunshine” is a motivational anthem with the type of upbeat instrumentation that’s guaranteed to get you moving and coupled at her piano with her niece the birthday girl, it was the perfect note to end the show on, until the evening’s mistress of ceremonies Fiona Bloom urged her return to the microphone for an encore. Crowd participation was on display as she led us through versions of Aretha Franklin’s “Jump to It”, Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much” and Michael Jackson “Rock with You”, an exclamation point on an extraordinary night.
Five minutes away from Drom I stopped and smiled. I remembered a little anecdote from the show, then a song, a note, the reaction of the crowd and I recognized that the moment I just experienced was turning into a sweet memory. Turn your moments into memories when Avery*Sunshine comes to a city near you, visit www.AverySunshine.com to unlock her social media portal to stay up-to-date with the magic she creates.
This post was submitted by Al-Lateef Farmer.