‘I GOT SUNSHINE’
WORDS BY: GERREN KEITH GAYNOR
Avery Sunshine may not be a household name, but she’s most certainly an attention grabber. Her name, stylized with a noticeable asterisk, stops you in your tracks. “It’s one name,” Avery boldly declares. It’s a reminder, the singer says, for people to always “shine” in times of adversity. “In the midst of all of that darkness is where the light shines brightest,” she says.
Avery’s music, which is a cross between adult contemporary R&B and neo-soul, is where she not only spreads a little soulful cheer, but levels the playing field between artist and listener. During her shows you’ll often find the former choir director teaching her songs to her audience so that they’re able to sing along to the hearty tunes. “I don’t care if I’m singing for two or two million, if they’re singing the music, that’s success for me,” she says. Avery is a musician in every sense of the word. Having studied music at Spelman College, the singer is a trained pianist and has starred in the Jasmine Guy-directed musical, “I Dream.”
Originally from Philly, which is also home to the likes of Jill Scott and Boyz II Men, Avery*Sunshine occupies a sometimes empty space in music where the artist doesn’t just talk to you in song, but makes you a part of the conversation. Most of the songs and music videos off her 2010 self-titled debut album (heavily inspired by a divorce) are like pages from her personal diary. “No gas is in my tank and I’ve got myself to thank, I had to make ten dollars last for three weeks and a day,” she sings on “I Got Sunshine,” a radiant track that is both relatable and inspirational. Avery’s candid tales have paid off well. In addition to touring with Ledisi and sharing the stage with Eric Benet, one of her most popular tracks, “Ugly Part Of Me,” garnered radio airplay and heavy rotation on VH1 Soul and Centric. And that was no easy feat considering the independent singer/songwriter does not have a major record label in her corner.
But defying the odds is what Avery*Sunshine is all about. “I had to grow into being happy with my full hips and my full bosom,” she admits. Now she firmly embraces her womanly curves and unorthodox, yet striking beauty. “Clearly I want to look the best for me and I want [my body] to be healthy, but I’m not going to [slim down] so that I can sell records,” she says. “I hope that my sisters and brothers are empowered when they see me talking about wearing Spanx.” Regardless, it’s her voice—sweet and thick like honey—and animated lyricism that propels her to a stratosphere all on her own.
Though she’s still in the introductory phase of her career, Avery*Sunshine is hoping her upcoming sophomore album will change her status. And with Musiq Soulchild and DJ Jazzy Jeff as collaborators, listeners are sure to take notice. “I want to be a part of that soundtrack to people’s lives,” she says. “I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard Donny Hathaway’s tunes for the first time, and I want my music to do that for others.”
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