With a distinct voice that can brighten even the cloudiest day, soul singer Avery Sunshine exudes rays of sunlight and love on her upcoming album, Twenty Sixty Four. It’s the singer-songwriter’s third album and the project is expected to be released on April 21st on the Shanachie label. On this effort, newlyweds Avery Sunshine and her longtime writing partner, Dana Johnson, have crafted a love story with songs like Come Do Nothing, Kiss and Make it Better, and Heaven is Right Here. “This album is really my story with my new husband Dana Johnson; this album is our love story,” the singer revealed.
EBONY caught up with the soulful artist to talk about her new album and how sharing her love story can be a lesson for everyone.
EBONY: Your last album The Sunroom was released in 2014, what took so long to release the follow up album?
Avery Sunshine: This is actually shorter than the last time. The time between the first and the second album was four years. So this time we did three years. We did a lot of traveling and touring so we didn’t have time to stop; and when I say us, I mean Dana Johnson and I. Now, I don’t multi-task well, but he’s great at it. When I’m touring, I’m touring; when I’m cutting a record, I’m cutting a record. But if you want to continue touring, you should probably continue making music, so I had to learn when I got off the road for a few days, I’d have to hit the studio. You figure out how to record while you are on the road or it will be ten years between albums.
EBONY: What can fans expect to hear on this album that is different from your previous work?
Avery Sunshine: They can expect a couple of things that we did that was different for us on this album we did some writing collaborations. We have three songs that we co-wrote with Eric Roberson, Jamie Portee, and Mr. Talkbox. We just yielded to this album by letting it direct us. Another thing that’s unique to this album, is we have live strings on the album. It’s just awesome. We give a little more instrumentation and energy from some other folks that really helped pull it together. What’s interesting is that we bring all that energy together on the technical side that is so beautiful and that only happens when you mix the spirits of a bunch of people. It’s something that we wanted to experiment with, and we’re really happy with it.
EBONY: What is the significance of the title of the album Twenty Sixty Four?
Avery Sunshine: Dana and I were both divorced, and we both vowed to never get married again. It’s so funny when he called me last January 2016, he said, “Listen we are going to get married in 2016.” So everything I said I wasn’t going to do, I did. I got a gown, we had a destination wedding, and we went all out. With that being said, after I called as many people as I could, I prayed to God and said, “If you could just give me until 2064 with this amazing man, I’ll be 89, he’ll be 91, and I would be so grateful. I will say my prayers every night, I’ll go to church. I’ll do everything I’m supposed to be doing!” So that’s where 2064 comes from, it’s a number that came to me during my prayers, so that’s why I named it Twenty Sixty Four.
EBONY: Working with Dana Johnson and being married, how do you keep the creative juices flowing and challenge each other artistically?
Avery Sunshine: It’s a natural thing for us. I think that’s why we are together, it’s natural for us to work with each other. It’s not something we have to think about. It just happens. I think that’s how we knew we were right for each other.
We have learned so much in relationships as humans. We’re taught it’s going to be hard, taking it to church for a minute, going to be hard, going up the rough side of the mountain. Ok, but everything is not like that. I did believe that in my first marriage, stuff is supposed to be hard, and it’s going to be hard. Let me tell you something, it does not have to be that hard. It’s just not. I’ve learned that with my relationships, business and romantic. I hope that people take that away from our relationship and our interaction, and that is if you wait on that right fit for you, and don’t try to fit a square block in a circle, just wait for the right thing. Something that I also learned, I think we have to be careful saying what we will never do, because what we do is we limit what God has for us by saying what we will never ever do. A lot of times, we miss the right companion, job, or opportunity because we say we won’t ever. So that’s something this relationship has taught me. I’m not going to limit what God can do by saying what I will never do.
EBONY: What’s your favorite song on the album?
Avery Sunshine: The Ice Cream Song is my favorite on the album. It’s our unofficial wedding song. When Dana proposed, no, when he told me we were getting married (laughs), I said I was going to write my own song for my wedding. Dana and I were sitting in the studio one day, and I said I need a song for us, so I picked up the guitar, and I don’t play the guitar at all, and I don’t play at the guitar, none of it (Laughs). I figured these four chords out, I started singing, “I’d give up ice cream just for you, I’d sell my bags and give away my shoes, I’d give you my happy and take away your blues, ain’t no telling what I’d do.”
EBONY: With everything going on in the world today, music is the one thing that seems to unite people in general, why do you think that is?
Avery Sunshine: Music is a universal language. You don’t have to worry about what is being conveyed. You don’t have to try to figure out what could be lost in translation. It goes directly to the pit of your soul. I think that’s what music was intended to do.
Keep up with Avery Sunshine on her website and follow her on Twitter @AverySunshine
Shameika Rhymes is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and has written for outlets like Charlotte Five, Sheen Magazine, JETMag.com, SoulTrain.com, VanityFair.com, WEtv.com and her own website, www.themofochronicles.com. Follow her on Twitter @Mofochronicles @WriterShameika