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MEET THE GRAMMY CLASS: ANDRA DAY


You drew attention for the covers you posted on YouTube. How have you shaped your vocal style, and how representative is Cheers to the Fall of what you’ve been doing the last 10 years?

I think I have shaped my vocal style by listening to a lot of music and being fearless in creating my type of music. It was about not being afraid and diving into what my natural voice sounded like. I’ve shaped my style by listening to a lot of music, by trying to be fearless when experimenting with creating music, and also by accepting what the natural sound of my voice was when I opened my mouth to sing. I fell in love with artists like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone partly because they eventually helped me realize that just because your tone is different from what you’re used to hearing doesn’t mean you are a bad singer.

Cheers to the Fall is representative of my life over the last 10 years and is really an autobiography of the mistakes I’ve made in a relationship. I was in a relationship for a very long time and was an unfaithful person. I ended up leaving that relationship and getting my heart broken as well. The album is also about my chosen career path in music. I’d get people who would tell me, “You won’t make any money in music,” or, when it came to telling the truth about my ex about what I’ve done, “Oh, he’s going to slander you.” Cheers to the Fall represents moving forward and not allowing fear to box you in, moving forward in my career path regardless of whether I fail or not, and telling my truth without fear of criticism.

You co-wrote every song on your album. How were your co-writers selected and what role did you take on, especially with Adrian Gurvitz?
I co-wrote with the producers, Adrian Gurvitz and Raphael Saadiq. When I would get into the studio, I would write top lines, which are the lyrics and melodies, and the producer would write the music. But the process was completely collaborative, so sometimes they would have lyric ideas, and sometimes I would have ideas for the music.

Whom do you consider your mentor(s) in the business?I consider a few people mentors in the business.
Stevie Wonder, of course, and Kai Millard, who discovered me and introduced me to Adrian. Adrian Gurvitz and Raphael Saadiq are also mentors. They lent their expertise not just to this project, but to me as a person and growing artist. The advice they have given me over time has been invaluable, particularly about the power of simplicity.

Grammy-nominated “Rise Up” was featured in a Beats by Dre ad and now you’re in an Apple ad with Stevie Wonder. What does your association with those brands mean to you, and how important is that to you as an artist?
My association with these brands means a lot to me. These are global brands that are very music-focused. Beats is obviously about the music with the headphones and Apple has iTunes and Apple Music. These people get music across their desks every day, so for them to take notice of “Rise Up” and have it resonate with them enough to believe in me and include me in their programming is something I am extremely grateful for and means everything.

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