When Andra Day was awarded the Powerhouse Award at the Billboard Women in Music event in December 2016, she talked about the people who have inspired her, and the advice she has for up and coming artists.
“Nina Simone is a woman, a trailblazer, who came before me who inspires me so much because she used her platform to make people aware of the racial climate at the time she was making music. A lot of people tried to convince her to stop using her music to do that, (but) she wouldn’t because she had such a deep conviction. She is such an example for me of when women are in positions of power, when women have platforms and they have a voice, how much change can come from that.
“First the message I have for up-and-coming artists who think it is impossible is to break that belief – it is possible, it is absolutely possible. The road may not look the way you thought it would look, but it is absolutely possible if you believe in the power that you have been endowed with, the power that you have within yourself and if you are willing to take it one step at a time and understand that each one of those steps is a building block to your future and to making it.
“Even if it seems tedious, even if it seems like its not important, all of those things are building not just your talent but your character, your capacity to be able to handle the success that you will attain. So I definitely want to encourage you that it is possible – it takes patience, it takes perseverance, but you absolutely can make it.”
In an interview with Billboard on her Powerhouse award, Andra said “In my opinion, a powerhouse is somebody who helps people realise their own power, so if people feel powerful around me then that’s a good thing, it’s exciting.”
Asked how she makes others feel powerful, Andra said “I think you just remind them of their value, you remind them of their purpose, you remind them that you are not just here to exist but you are here to impact people and their lives. So no matter how little you have or how small your circumstances may be you can impact the world and your community in such a big way.”
Speaking about her song, Rise up, Andra said when she released the album Cheers to the Fall in August 2015 she didn’t know that the song would have such an impact.
“It’s been tied to different movements – to the Hillary campaign, to Black Lives Matter, to LGBT, to women’s rights – but it has also impacted people on the micro (level) as well.
“In my shows I have met fans and people who have said ‘I am struggling with cancer or depression and your song is helping me get through’.
“It’s a nice reminder that our platform is so powerful and you can be the change that you want to see – as cliched as it sounds – if you allow yourself to be so.