We’re back with another installation of our latest series, TuneCore Tuesdays, which aims to highlight artists and other music professionals who are writing, recording, and hustling on their own terms. By showcasing creatives doing it their way all over the globe, TuneCore Tuesdays aims to empower and inspire our diverse community of artists.
This week we’re talking to Atlanta-based artist and songwriter Avery*Sunshine. Check out her video and be sure to learn more about her journey!
Growing up in Chester, Pennsylvania, Avery*Sunshine picked up her passion for music and singing in the church. As she began playing piano at the young age of only 8, she found herself playing in churches and even directing choirs by her teens. By the time Avery was 18, she was a member of the reputable, award-winning Wilmington Chester Mass Choir, and it was then that she knew music would be her life.
Moving to Atlanta for college, Avery met her writing partner and now-husband Dana Johnson; he saw so much potential in his future wife’s performing and writing and acted as a major pillar of encouragement for the artist.
“The truth is, I didn’t think I was special enough to be an artist all on my own,” Avery Recalls. “Dana thought differently and with some poking, prodding and a little red wine we finished our debut album, AVERY*SUNSHINE.”
While Avery went on to pursue her soulful R&B style, captivating new listeners with each performance, she looks back fondly on her experience in a church setting. She credits it with getting her to where she is today as a performer.
“Church taught me how to capture the attention of an audience and to keep it,” she says. “Believe it or not, I noticed that I could keep the listener’s attention by including them in the performance. Making the experience as much about the listener as it was about the performer/performance. Simply, treating the congregation/listener like I’d want to be treated.”
From working with Tony Award-winners as the choral director for Atlanta’s revival of DREAMGIRLS to landing jazz legend Roy Ayers on her debut release, Avery and Johnson learned quickly that there were ‘dues to be paid’ as indie artists and label entrepreneurs. An artist could look at some of their feats and wonder how they got there, but Avery assures us there’s no secret formula or approach.
“We figured out that focusing on OUR gifts and talents was the only path to real success. Not begging or even demanding to be seen or heard. From being a personal guest of Aretha Franklin to opening for B.B. King; from watching Jazzy Jeff perform his infamous transformer scratch in his home studio, to having Roy Ayers featured on our debut album; the thing that has been constant for us as indies is our commitment to being exactly who we are. That’s when the doors just swing open before one can even knock.”
At the end of the day, Avery holds the element of performance on the highest pedestal. She credits her and Johnson’s focus on creating a jaw-dropping live set as their prioritized method of acquiring new fans (while still acknowledging the importance of social, email and traditional DIY marketing).
“We love to perform,” Avery says. “That never changes. Touring is an amazing gift to artists and I dare say, particularly songwriters. It provides scenery, dynamic and static experiences: creative firewood, if you will, for song-writing. For artists who dare to do this thing, remember that while it has its tremendous ups and downs, it is an enormous blessing.”
As Avery’s journey has progressed, TuneCore has been a pretty constant partner (since 2010). Early on, like many artists who begin distributing on our platform, simply being able to get their releases out to the world seemed like a feat: “It changed how we viewed ourselves in the music industry. We were now, not just artists, but a full on label/distributor.” And as their creative vision continued to shape up and expand, the creative duo recognized the freedom behind it all.
Avery concludes: “TuneCore gives you the flexibility to release music when and how you want to, with the same access as major labels. In many ways, TuneCore is cutting out the proverbial “middle-man” and putting all the power in the hands of the artist.”