From the time she was a tot, Avery Sunshine was always surrounded by music.
Born in Chester, she began singing at the age of 8. When she was 13, she nurtured her natural talent by singing in church and leading and directing choirs. Sunshine was a former member of the renowned Wilmington Chester Mass Choir, where she sharpened her vocal skills and her ability to play piano.
She attended Spelman College where she majored in music. It was in college that she joined her friend Maia Wilson to form her first group, DaisyRew. While music had always played a part of Sunshine’s life, it wasn’t always her dream.
“I was about 18-years-old when I realized I could sing,” Sunshine said. “I never thought about having a singing career; I always wanted to be a corporate lawyer, but music has always been a huge part of my life. I knew when I went to Spellman that I wanted to do something in music; I just never imagined that being an artist would be a part of my plan.”
After making her mark on the Atlanta-soul music scene, Sunshine decided to take the steps toward a singing career.
Changing her name, which is taken from characters in her two favorite movies, was just the beginning of her musical journey.
“I needed to come up with a name at the last minute,” Sunshine said. “My real name is Denise White. I was in Atlanta, outside of my studio, before a trip to Japan. My music partner, Dana Johnson said, ‘What do you want to be billed as?’ I just said, Avery Sunshine. The name comes from my love of characters in two my favorite movies. Avery comes from ‘The Color Purple’s’ Shug Avery, and Sunshine comes from the character in ‘Harlem Nights.’”
Sunshine released her independent self-titled album last year. Since the album has been released, she was named one of iTunes Best in 2010 and has been recognized as the SoulTracks 2010 Readers Choice Best New Artist and one of JET Magazine’s Top 5 Rising Indie Artists.
Her CD was listed as a 2010 Album of the Year in the Atlanta’s Creative Loafing and has received positive reviews from various publications across the country.
“Most of my songs are full of soul, R&B, and jazz,” Sunshine said. “I grew up in the church, so it’s only natural that some songs reflect my Gospel roots, but all of my music is inspirational because it tells a story. All of my songs have a clear and distinct message. It’s a mixture of what I like to call a rew. I never want to feel boxed in as an artist.”
She lent her voice to the soundtrack for Paramount Pictures “The Fighting Temptations” and in 2005 was hired as lead keyboardist for Tyler Perry’s stage play “Meet the Browns.” In 2007, Sunshine was sought out by Grammy and Tony Award Winning vocalist Jennifer Holiday to be the choral director for the theatrical production of “Dreamgirls” during the National Black Arts Festival.
Her recent performances include BET’S “Black Girls Rock and Soul” concert series in Washington, D.C. and a three-night gig opening for blues guitar legend B.B. King at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Last weekend, Sunshine bought her talents back home as she performed at Warmdaddy’s in front of family and friends. It was her second concert near her hometown in three weeks. On Sept. 30 she performed at the Baby Grand in Wilmington.
“Chester has shaped who I am,” Sunshine said. “Growing up, there was always someone at my house, and it taught me to really enjoy people and that a sense of community is the most important thing. It always feels great coming home and performing in front of family and friends. The support has always been amazing and I’m happy they are able to go on this journey with me.”