Andra Day brought her soulful pin-up girl style and flawless vocals to the stage for a sold out crowd at Center Stage in Atlanta. The 31-year-old gets her fashion style from some old school Hollywood icons including Lucille Ball, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge. The California-based singer earned two Grammy nominations for her debut album “Cheers to the Fall ” and was my pick for Best New Artist. Her voice and style has a smooth yet edgy smoke filled character but she is able shift easily to toe tapping and body moving upbeat crowd pleasing anthems.
Listening to her music and seeing her videos on YouTube made me a fan and seeing her live tonight made me fall in love even more with her music and charisma. Andra Day came out like a prize fighter looking for a knock out in the first round. Dressed in her signature silk pajamas, head scarf and a fur stole, Andra Day, took a seat on a steamer trunk and started the night with Forever Mine. This song embodies Andra Day’s retro style that would have been welcomed in any speak easy in Harlem or Chicago during the 50s.
From a song about longing to be with someone forever, Andra Day moved to a song about love’s disappointments, Gold. Gold is a song about discovering the flaws in a relationship and realizing that what you thought was precious is actually worthless “I gave up gold, for grains of sand.”
Andra Day asked “Do we have any Nina Simone fans in the audience?” She sung Mississippi Goddam, a song from “Nina Revistied… A Tribute to Nina Simone.” The social commentary, Mississippi Goddam was written and first performed by Nina Simone in 1964 at Carnigie Hall. Andra Day’s cover of the song brings a current spin to the lyrics including references to New Jersey and Ferguson.
As she performed Honey or Fire and Gin & Juice (Let Go My Hand) Andra Day showed us just how much she loved music. She pumped her hands and pushed her four piece band to keep the music going as she danced and strutted around stage with moves that would make any burlesque dancer proud.
With the crowd sufficiently pumped Andra Day moved on to a more serious tone. As she took a set of wipes and removed her make up she shared with the crowd some of her challenges and struggles with self image. She explained that every woman should be comfortable without make up as she moved into a mellow cover of Kendrick Lamar’s No Make Up. With this cover, Andra Day displays yet another piece of her dynamic range as she shows off her scatting skills and turns Kendrick’s song into a jazzy anthem.
Many people have compared Andra Day with Amy Winehouse and hearing Andra Day perform Only Love one can certainly understand why. She adds a raspy edge to her voice to this sound that indeed does sound much like Amy Winehouse’s sound but as she moves into the soaring chorus, Andra day reminds us that she is a singer that can only be compared to herself.
When performers share their personal struggles with their fans I believe that it helps and heals so many people. Andra Day once again shares her personal struggles with the crowd again in song with Rearview. She said that to get the crowd to focus on the importance of the song she sang it with only the accompaniment of her keyboard player.
“It’s time to take you to the club” Andra Day told the crowd and had us all dancing with a mashup of the Michael Jackson pop hits Rock with You, PYT and Thriller. Before heading off stage for a break, Andra Day introduced us to her keyboard player Sir Charles Jones. Sir Charles Jones took us to church with his cover of the Sam Cooke classic Change Gonna Come.
Next were a couple more songs from her 2015 album “Cheers to the Fall”, Mistakes and Goodbye Goodnight. When a performer is enjoying what they are doing it comes through and enfuses the crowd. Through out tonight’s concert, Andra Day’s passion for her music was something that you could feel. As she she sang, she would magically move her hands as if she were casting a spell upon the crowd or just close her eyes and enter a trance as she sang.
I said that Andra Day started the show like a prize fighter looking for a knock out. The show started with one of her biggest hits, Be Fore Ever Mine, but she saved her true knock out punch for the end of the show with Rise Up. EVERY time I hear this song I get goose bumps and feel a huge sense of inspiration and want to “move mountains.” Andra Day made this song personal for everyone in the crowd by extended the mic to the crowd and encouraging each of us to sing along. She told the crowd “When you dive deeper into who you were created to be you will always come through.”
The night wasn’t quite over as Andra Day come back onstage for an encore performance. The night ended with a powerful cover of Queen’s I want it all!
This is definitely an artist to pay attention to as she tours and puts on new music. Add her to your Libro Musica!