There is a photograph of Stevie Wonder featured in a promo shot for an Apple® holiday commercial, which aired last December. The expression on his face is one of sheer exuberance, as he is looking in the direction of the woman, whose dulcet, shimmering voice fills up the room. Wonder’s emotional response to what he is hearing is more than evidence to note that the musical gifts this person possesses is the real deal.
It was this very performance of Stevie Wonder and Andra Day delivering a soulful rendition of “Someday at Christmas,” the song Wonder first introduced to radio listeners in 1967. The radio station was currently showcasing the young sensation’s talents, nearly 50 years after its initial debut. By the looks of it, it’s just a matter of time before Day finds herself firmly entrenched in the pantheon of her musical predecessors who have been recognized the world over for their own contributions.
Andra Day is a contemporary jazz and R&B singer, who hails from San Diego. Her retro-class vocal style harkens back to an era steeped in the aural persuasions of Etta James, Sarah Vaughan, and Dinah Washington. Not only does she croon like nobody’s business, she adorns her outer beauty as an accoutrement, deftly uniting her sassy, vintage fashionista sense of style with much flair and elan. There’s something to be said when one successfully pairs blue jeans attire and peep-toe high heels to make a definitive fashion statement. That’s Miss Day!
Cassandra Monique “Andra” Batie, who goes by the professional name Andra Day, was born in 1984, in Seattle, Washington. When she was three years old, she and her family relocated to Southern California, where the clan eventually settled in San Diego. Day showed a propensity for music at a very young age, further honing her vocal talents in the choir at the church she and her family attended. She went on to enroll at the School of Creative and Performing Arts, located in the heart of southeast San Diego, whose alumni includes actress Sara Ramirez of Grey’s Anatomy and Tony Award-winner James Maslow. Being enrolled there definitely gave her an advantage to sculpt and develop her vocal prowess under the guidance of various mentors and teachers, who recognized that their very special student had a musical knack for melody and perfect pitch.
When Day graduated from high school, she pursued contemporary R&B and pop but then changed musical gears to eventually embrace a more suitable approach for her distinctive vocal style. She began performing classic jazz standards first made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, while methodically adding her own interpretative musings. As she developed the confidence she needed to showcase her singing, she did what so many of her peers do to mass market their talents in order to reach a wider, untapped core audience. Day posted videos of herself singing on YouTube.
Out of her viewers, the person who caught one of Day’s clips was Kai Millard Morris, the former wife of Stevie Wonder. She was so taken with the young protégé’s singing that she immediately got in touch with Wonder so he, too, could take a listen to Day. Once the legend heard her, he needed no convincing that Day had exactly what it took to become a part of something much bigger than what she could only imagine. Before it was all said and done, she was connected with the right people in the business and was signed to Warner Bros.
Day went on to record several albums, including Someday at Christmas, Winter Wonderland, and the Grammy-nominated Cheers to the Fall, which features the electrifying power ballad “Rise Up.” The song earned her high watermarks for her performance of it at this year’s 2016 Grammy® Awards. She has also packed her suitcases for an extensive world tour, here in America and across Europe, where she will be performing with Fort Worth, Texas native Leon Bridges, whose debut album, Coming Home, was also nominated for a Grammy at this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony. Of note, Bridges and Day are slated to perform at the 2016 ESSENCE Festival, which takes place every year in New Orleans, Louisiana. The four-day event celebrates African-American culture and music and is the largest of its kind in the United States.
It’s an exciting time for music lovers everywhere, as one of the most promising talents in music today has it her way. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Andra Day.