**Photography by Dre Barnes
The Philadelphia area has produced many powerhouse vocalists over the years, from Patti LaBelle to Jill Scott. Singer-songwriter-pianist Avery Sunshine is a newer addition to that proud tradition, and the beautiful singer with the big voice and buoyant personality realized as soon she finished high school that it was her destiny to take her place among the stars. “When I got to college, I knew without a doubt that I would be a musician,” she says. “Didn’t know exactly what I would be doing, but I knew, whatever it was, it would definitely be music. I knew.”
That belief in herself has been an asset throughout her career. Sunshine has been choral director on the theatrical production of Dream Girls, starred in the musical drama I Dream and her music has been featured on television shows like “Franklin & Bash.” Teaming with her songwriting partner, guitarist Dana Johnson, gave Avery the confidence that she needed to push forward with her dream. And Johnson also helped Avery Sunshine find her own musical persona; as he was the person who convinced her to play keyboard onstage.
“That’s one of the things that makes us different and unique,” Sunshine explains. “I used to say ‘I don’t wanna play, I just wanna stand and sing.’ But my playing is what makes us different. When we perform it’s just me on a Rhodes keyboard and Dana on his guitar. The thing that I thought was strange is the thing that gives us our sound.”
Sunshine honed that sound and was able to finally realize her dream with the release of her self-titled debut in 2010. Now, as she preps her sophomore project for release, she says that the growth over the last three years is pushing her into new and exciting directions.
“This time around, there’s more instrumentation and we’re just taking the time to really chisel the piece and make it what we want it to be,” she explains. She’s also been fortunate to work with veteran soul star Musiq Soulchild on two songs. “I’m really excited about everybody hearing that. He is one of my inspirations — I love him. We did a song together that we co-wrote and the other tune he produced it. I don’t think people know him as a producer, but he’s amazing and just a great guy. But its going to be a really great album and I’m really happy with it.”
Avery Sunshine’s happiness is evident in her music, and she says that she’s happiest realizing that she’s able to transmit those positive vibes to her audience.
“That’s something that I never imagined would happen,” she shares. “I thought this was my therapy but it’s bigger than that. My purpose is huge.”
Catch Avery Sunshine on Saturday, August 24th at the Chicago Westside Music Festival in Douglas Park. Admission is free. More information is available at http://