Essence Festival draws more than 450,000 people from all over the world to New Orleans, Louisiana for four days of nonstop music and empowerment talks over the 4th of July holiday weekend. It generates more than $200 million for the crescent city in that short period of time. But one other big thing Essence Fest does, is it gives new artists a major platform to be seen live by thousands of people in one place—the New Orleans Mercedes Super Dome.
What a difference a year makes. Last year during Essence Fest, Ford Motor Co. introduced Warner Bros. 2015 breakout singer/songwriter Andra Day to a room full of journalists and bloggers as one of their new rising stars on the label. Day performed in the smaller Super Lounge at the Fest and made appearances for Ford, mostly covers of major artist recordings.
Fast forward one year later. Andra Day,whose birth name is Cassandra “Andra” Batie of San Diego, performs on the main stage at the Essence Fest, The big stage. Her image is displayed on 4 million McDonald’s Cups and shopping bags and she is everywhere with promotions for Coca Cola as well.
She dropped in on the McDonald’s Bounce breakfast all day event at Riverwalk chatting it up with TV entertainment reporters and fellow artists Tank and Tyrese. Then off she went to yet another appearance after another. She was perhaps the biggest attraction besides first time Essence participants Oprah Winfrey and Mariah Carey or the return of Maxwell and Kendrick Lamar. She is on the June cover of Essence Magazine.
This year her hit song Rise Up and critically acclaimed debut album “Cheers to The Fall” earned her two Grammy nominations. The album was co-produced by Raphael Saadiiq. She was also nominated for a NAACP Image Award and featured in Rolling Stone Magazine as one of “10 new artists you need to know”. Andra has opened for Lenny Kravitz appeared on Black Girls Rock McDonald’s 365 Black Awards, the Espy’s and in the memorable Apple holiday commercial singing “Someday At Christmas” with Stevie Wonder, the man who discovered her and gave her the connection she needed to launch her career.
The 31-year-old style is being called retro-soul, jazz and blues but the woman who loves wearing red lipstick and hair in a vintage Lucille Ball pin curl updo with large hoop earrings doesn’t like to be assigned to any music category. Her high octave distinct voice has been likened to Eartha Kitt, Adele and Amy Winehouse and its no wonder some of her musical idols she listened to and was influenced by growing up were Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Billy Holiday and Sarah Vaughn.
Her rise to stardom began in 2012 when Day did a cover of a popular song by Jesse J that started social media buzzing. She was in LA doing nightclub shows when introduced to Stevie Wonder who in turn connected her with a producer. She later caught the interest of Warner Bros. Records and began her journey to stardom.
Endorsements and appearances are coming fast and furious now and she’s embarking on her own tour taking her to cities around the country and world including Canada, Japan and Korea.
“I can’t pretend to be perfect or fit into some made up role.. But I can make the hand I’m dealt with work if I decide to never fold. And I can’t lie, that closed cause I don’t know how to never try at all. So Cheers To the Fall”—From the Debut Album Cheers to The Fall – Andra Day.
Follow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier