When Avery*Sunshine hits the stage at the ESSENCE Festival on July 6, expect a dynamic performance. Along with being known for her powerful voice and appreciation of different music genres, the R&B singer is a trained pianist. ESSENCE.com spoke with the Chester, PA native on the inspiration behind her music, her upcoming album and future career plans.

ESSENCE.com: What inspires your music?
AVERY*SUNSHINE: When I was 13, I started playing the piano in church and had no idea it would prepare me for the stage. My music is heavily influenced by gospel. At home, my parents played music from artists like Maze and Frankie Beverly and the Doobie Brothers. Then with my piano teachers, I worked on Rachmaninoff, Bach and Beethoven. My music is a combination of all that.

ESSENCE.com: You’re currently working on your second album. How does it compare to your first, self-titled album?
SUNSHINE: The first record just kind of happened and it let me know I had something to offer. I was going through a lot of transitions. This time, I am more intentional. There is more thought with this record, but not so much that it ends up being sterile. I’m definitely taking it to another level and really being thoughtful musically.

ESSENCE.com: You’ve referred to your music as being therapy. What do you mean by that?
SUNSHINE: When I was transitioning and going through my divorce, I moved in with my sister into a two-bedroom apartment. She has two kids, and I have two as well. It was a lot. I made it through because I was working on this album. I was able deal with a lot of my issues because of this music.

ESSENCE.com: What’s next for you?
SUNSHINE: I would like to do some television, especially sitcoms. There is something very light about sitcoms. You get a serious message with some fun and laughs around it. I’d also like to work with a symphony. I remember going to the symphony in college and there was something so indescribable about it. What I found with the symphony is there is music in the silence. People sit there quiet as mice, hanging on to your every note. I’m attracted to it.

ESSENCE.com: Considering how tough the music industry, what does it take to excel in the business?
SUNSHINE: Talent comes first and the rest is persistence and hard work. You have to work when everybody else is sleeping. Believe when nobody else believes. If somebody told me 15 years ago that I was going to be an artist, I would have said they were lying. I did not think my voice was special enough. I am now embracing it. I get it. I am clearly called to do this.