Andra Day and her incredible voice were originally discovered by Stevie Wonder, but we later discovered something even more impressive. Andra has a seriously beautiful faith in Jesus and is sticking to it in the midst of the mainstream music world. You can hear her song “Rise Up” playing on WAY NEW, but you also may have heard her singing at places like The Grammys, the White House, and mainstream pop stations across the country.
Carlos, host and music director of WAY NEW, got to chat with Andra about how God moved in crazy ways at some of her favorite big-time performances.
Let’s talk about the Grammys. What was it like taking the stage…? I mean, The Grammys, that’s kind of like the Super Bowl for all of music.
That’s a good way to put it! …It was a miracle to be honest with you because the day before, I caught strep throat. And, you know, with strep throat… there is no singing… [The night before,] I had no voice. I had to change the entire song. I couldn’t even eek out some notes…
So, the next day, everybody was praying for me… And this doctor… came by and gave me some antibiotics and just was really sweet and encouraging… The performance was really just very spirit-filled.
I mean, my keyboard player is amazing. He comes in and immediately puts his hands on me and starts praying for me. He’s, like, very prophetic in that way. And then… after spending the whole getting-ready time with us, praying the entire time… he kind of pops up and says, “Ok, when you get up there, there will be no strep throat. It will just be you and Him.” And I said, “Ok, ok,” you know.
And it’s funny because I get onstage – and I was nervous! …I was getting ready to go onstage and I start singing the first couple of notes and it was a little weak and I said, “Ok, well… we’re gonna have to change some things.”And then I could just hear, “Just open your mouth and I’ll do the rest…” And I didn’t have to hold back one note! I didn’t have to change anything… It was incredible… Just being in the center of the arena… being sort of immersed in the people there. I kind of lost myself. It didn’t really matter who else was around… It was a very spirit-filled moment.
I love how you share so much about your faith in what you do and in your life. You don’t really hold anything back which is one of my favorite things about you. With the new record, Cheers to the Fall, and with Rise Up doing so well on radio, how has it been for you to be able to take this stage and to take your message and your music to entirely new places?
(Watch Andra’s jaw-dropping, powerful video to “Rise Up” right here.)
You know what… it’s been amazing. It’s transformed me as a person and it’s grown me in my faith even more… it’s freeing actually. You know, because I realize, you have people that will tell you, “… hey, you can’t really talk about that… It will really rub people the wrong way or it will turn them off…” And the fact that on mainstream radio and on The Grammys… people are receptive to this message… shows you that people do need hope… They need to be reminded to persevere and hope…
It’s encouraged me and it’s shown me even more that God is very unconventional… He is the same and He’s consistent… but He is so unconventional… I always say this. I joke with people, “God has shown me that He has the ultimate backstage pass…” When I have something I want to do, there’s no door that is unopened… regardless of the trajectory of society or culture. So… it’s grown me and actually, not scared me, it’s rooted me even more…
I feel like there’s a level of authenticity that you live out with your music and with your faith… You’re just you… If there’s one thing that you wish people would get from you or get from your music and what you’re trying to do with your career, what would that be?
I guess the one thing is that I would desire for people to discover the freedom and the power in seeking out who they were truly created to be… And really seeking out… the love of Christ… To really seek out how powerful and how free they can be in that, in that love, in who they were created to be.
Because I think that’s what, now, looking back on who I was 10, 11, 12, years ago, I realize… It’s too hard to be anything other than, you know, who you truly are and who you truly were meant to be. And I see people walking around with that sort of veil on. “…I have to put on and I have to show face…” And I can see how tiring it is on some people… My desire is for people to [know,] “Hey, if people criticize you, that’s ok… you’re free in that identity.”
Yeah, there’s a certain level of everyone wants to be the next Kanye West or Kim Kardashian or Peyton Manning or Dwayne Wade or whoever instead of being the first of who they were created to be. And I feel like if that’s what you’re trying to show people, they’re going to discover who they were meant to be who God created them to be and they can become that person instead of a copy of someone else.
I agree with you 100%. And imagine how much more beautiful and supportive and creative the world would be actually if people really seek that out… It would be a blessing for all of us!
What’s been one of the biggest, like, surreal moments for you? Has it been The Grammys or when Stevie Wonder discovered you? Has it been singing at the White House? I mean, you’ve gotten to do some pretty amazing things!
… I mean definitely The Grammys… and working with Stevie is always a surreal moment. Just continuing that relationship… is really one of those things that… like I said, God shows you… He’s bigger! But I think one of the really special moments was doing the Ray Charles tribute at the White House…
My parents have believed in me and they’ve supported me which… was an incredible blessing. Now, as an adult, I know that looking back. So to be able to go to the White House and for them to be able to meet the President and the First Lady and to be able to speak with them and to be able to hear how excited the President and the First Lady were and how they were watching me on The Grammys…
It was exciting, but I think particularly, that day, I was with Yolanda Adams and we were just ministering to each other… And speaking to Demi Lovato as well… And then praying with Anthony Hamilton. Like, to see the spirit fill the White House like that… and to have my parents there. And to have everybody feel it and see it and know it was just like, incredible.
It was just one of those reminders, hey, this is why you’re here… Not to get things… but for this… to be a witness. And everybody – we were encouraging each other. It was amazing!
Andra, you are one of my favorites! Thank you for… chatting with us… The record sounds amazing… My wife, it’s in her car and she jams to it almost every week….
Oh, that’s so awesome! Oh my gosh, well, tell her I said thank you and that I said hi!
Hear Andra Day’s song, “Rise Up” on WAY NEW.