Andra Day's life changed when Stevie Wonder called her on the telephone. The music superstar asked Day if he could work with her.
That was almost six years ago. Stevie Wonder had heard about the singer from his wife at the time, Kai Millard Morris. She had discovered Day in a short video. It showed Day singing in front of a small shopping center in Malibu, California.
Andra Day said her talk with Stevie Wonder inspired her.
"I was so nervous,'' she said. "I kept saying to myself that he's just a regular person. But in the same breath, I was saying, 'He's a legend.' I felt like a meteor hit my house. It inspired me to keep pushing.''
A year later Wonder introduced Day to longtime producer Adrian Gurvitz. He signed her to his company, Buskin Records.
Now her career is taking off. The 31-year-old singer is nominated for two Grammy Awards - best R&B album for her debut, "Cheers to the Fall,'' and best R&B performance for the single "Rise Up.''
Day and Grammy nominee Ellie Goulding will sing together at the awards ceremony. The Grammy Awards are on February 15.
Until then, Day is preparing for her upcoming 35-city show tour.
Everything seems to be falling into place for Day.
"My prayers are being answered for my career,'' she said. "There's a reason I have this platform. There's a reason I have this gift. It's a blessing.''
Filmmaker Spike Lee saw Day perform last year at the Sundance Film Festival. She sang there during a Nina Simone tribute. After seeing Day’s performance, Lee offered to direct the music video for her first single, “Forever Mine.”
This month, Day will appear on a Black History Month program on ESPN television. ESPN is featuring Day and her song "Rise Up'' as part of the network's Black History Month hour-long program. It airs February 14th. “Rise Up” will play during the special program, which honors black athletes.
Day has also performed in commercials with Stevie Wonder and Serena Williams. Over the holidays, the Obama family asked Day to perform in two White House events, including the 2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.
Day said her album, “Cheers to the Fall,” is about her life. She said that includes a past relationship in which she wronged a friend.
"I want people to ... not be afraid of their truth,'' Day said. “No matter how dark or precarious it may seem, continue to pursue your truth.”
I’m Caty Weaver.
The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Have you heard “Rise Up” or seen a video of Andra Day performing the song? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or visit our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
inspire – v. to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create
meteor – n. a piece of rock or metal that burns and glows brightly in the sky as it falls from outer space into the Earth's atmosphere
legend – n. a famous or important person who is known for doing something extremely well
sign – v. to hire (someone) to do something especially by having that person sign a contract
take off – phrasal verb. to suddenly become successful or popular
fall into place – expression to become organized; when a situation becomes as it should be
tour – n. a series of related performances or appearances that occur at different places over a period of time
platform – n. something that allows someone to tell a large number of people about an idea, product, etc.