Before her sold out show last Tuesday night (3/15) at Lincoln Hall, singer Andra Day sat down to chat with us about her road to success, advice for those chasing their dreams and how her collaboration with Hilton Worldwide’s All Suites brands came about.
You may have seen her during the 58th annual Grammy awards telecast when she performed with Ellie Goulding or heard her being referred to as a protege of Stevie Wonder, what you may not realize though is that Andra Day is not an overnight sensation. Last year, Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of “10 New Artists You Need to Know,” she’s already received two Grammy nominations for album Cheers to the Fall, so far, and that’s just the tipping point. Day is currently on a 35 city tour and while in Chicago, she met with some lucky fans who won the “Rise Up with Andra Day” contest which encouraged her fans to share photos of their morning rituals.
SociaLifeChicago: Sweet or Savory?
Andra Day: Savory. All savory, all day. I love potatoes, chicken and steak. I love cheese, oh I love cheese so much even though I’m not supposed to have it because I’m a singer and cheese is not good for your voice.
SLC: Do you cook?
AD: It depends, do I cook well or do I just cook? (laughs) I can make a few things, I can cook some stuff.
SLC: Red lips or bold lashes?
AD: Red lips
SLC: Most people would see you and think overnight sensation which isn’t the case, tell us how did your singing career begin?
AD: All my life I knew I wanted to be in performance arts. I was a dancer for twenty something years and I did musical theatre. I went to performance arts school from elementary to high school (the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts) so I always knew that’s what I wanted to do but I didn’t know whether I wanted to be on Broadway or be a recording artist.
That came when about when I was about 16/17 years old. Performing was always something that I knew I wanted to do, from training to school and recording. I’ve worked in nice studios to the hoodest of hoods studios in San Diego and LA (laughs).
SLC: Where do you go to find quiet?
AD: It’s a prayer closet for me. I do devotion time in the morning; I wake up and the first thing I like to do is be alone, be isolated, in prayer with God. I read and meditate on the word as well too and that’s where I go for quiet, peace and also where I go for solutions and how to operate in the world when dealing with issues of conflict and how to deal with that in a loving way. All of it comes from that place.
SLC: As someone currently called a rising star, what advice would you give to someone looking to you as inspiration?
AD: From a personal perspective, for me it’s prayer, it’s been a long long journey. I will advice that you should not look at time as your enemy. Particularly in the entertainment industry we allow people and/or images in the media to make us believe a) time is moving too fast b) we are getting too old and there is only a certain age range you can do this in and think “the window’s closing.” The biggest trick is there is no window, time is your friend. For me, without time, I wouldn’t have been able to grow and mature and create an album based on my life experience even though when I was twenty something I would say why didn’t it happen when I was 21, or 18. I would’ve never thought things would start popping off for me at 31. Don’t look at time as the enemy and don’t be afraid of the things that you’ve always wanted to do that are scary to you.
If you have a dream you want to chase, here it is: 1) Don’t look at time as your enemy 2) Expect that you will be criticized, expect that you will fail and it’s not failure, it’s actually part of the process and it’s ok. If you say to yourself well I spent ten years of my life and now I’m too old, no do it now! Don’t expect everything to be smooth, you will fail, you will stumble, its a challenge, but persevere through that and don’t always believe your current circumstance.
SLC: How did you come about partnering with Hilton Hotel’s Suites?
AD: I was sleeping one day and they just came knocking on my door like hey! (laughs), I’m kidding. When we were creating the album, I would stay at a Hilton Garden Inn. Then while we went on the road, my keyboardist introduced us to Homewood suites. I did the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade and co-incidentally was on the Homewood Suites float. From there the head of branding and my label got together and that’s how it came about.