Andra Day is easily one of the most captivating artists of today. Her voice is uniquely her own, and her retro-inspired style is everythaaang.
But how much do you know about the Cali girl? Did you know that she’s a trained dancer? How about that she got her start with a little help from Stevie Wonder? Check out seven fun facts we learned about Andra from our June 2016 cover story, and be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine, on stands now!
Originally from San Diego, Day would regularly drive to Los Angeles when she booked a gig. Her lucky break came, though, when her manager at the time crossed paths with fashion designer Kai Millard Morris—who was then married to Stevie Wonder. Upon hearing Day “sang,” Wonder connected her with a producer, who signed her to his company and, well, the rest is history.
Day admits that it took some time to debut her signature voice. “I was shrinking my voice and trying to do runs, but it just wasn’t me,” she said. She even dabbled in both pop and R&B before accepting that neither genre was her. We’re happy she stuck to her passion!
In case you haven’t noticed, Day’s style is on point (come through red lip and pompadour!). The “Rise Up” singer—who has a deep admiration for Lucille Ball—said that she finds inspiration in every single decade. “I like to say I was established in the cities, dragged through the decades and picked up a couple of things [from every era],” she said.
As a child, Day was an avid dancer—ballet, tap, jazz, modern and even river dance. She quickly abandoned dance, though, after enrolling in the San Diego School for Creative and Performance Arts at the age of 10, where she discovered signers like Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. “Listening to the stories told in jazz music and how those artists expressed their truths about the times and what they were dealing with is what struck me the most,” she said.
Though her parents aren’t singers, they both grew up with artistic dreams. Day says that perhaps that explains why they were always encouraging her to pursue her musical dreams. “I always joke that I don’t think my parents thought I was capable to doing anything else,” Day said, adding that she and her father would regularly sing together. “There were times when I’d play around with different things I was interested in and they’d say, ‘Oh, okay, sweetie. Just go ahead and keep on singing in your room.’”
(No, it’s not an ode to autumn.) Day admits that her album title is all about opening herself up to the possibility of failure—a scary possibility but one that she believes has allowed her to flourish. “I’m going for it without allowing fear to keep me from being who I’m really supposed to be,” she said. Cheers to that!
Day admits that she wasn’t proud of her behavior during her early 20s—she says she was “selfish and promiscuous”—but since then, she has learned to be honest with herself, something that she calls the “power of surrender.”
“I was imprisoned by the lies I’d been telling and by the fact that I’d been finding my sense of identity in other people,” she said. “…You become more powerful when you surrender, because you’re not a slave to anything.”
For more on Andra Day, pick up our June issue, on newsstands tomorrow!