I love being right, who doesn’t, but it is especially gratifying when it happens quickly so that I’m not having to link to a months-old article reminding everyone that I called something correctly. In this case, had I bothered to actually scratch beneath the surface of the handful of songs I listened to, I might have known that Andra Day was going to be on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night. When we wrote our article on new artists to watch, though, I was primarily interested in the music and not too concerned about other details. So, it was a wonderful surprise to see Ms. Day on the Late Show schedule for this week, and even more delightful to listen to her performance.
Live music on television doesn’t always work, and the Late Show, in particular, has had some issues with production values that, at times, were nothing short of horrid. They especially seem to have difficulty finding a good balance when faced with a particularly large or especially loud band. More than once I’ve turned off a performance because the cacophony was more than my ears could handle. So, there was a little trepidation on my part going into Ms. Day’s performance. I was really hoping the sound engineers at CBS wouldn’t mangle the performance.
While the sound quality still leaves a lot to be desired, the broadcast did a good job of highlighting Ms. Day’s incredible voice. Paired only with house band leader Jon Batiste and a couple of backup singers, Andra’s unique, piercing, soulful voice shone as she performed Rise Up from her new album, Cheers To The Fall. Hers is one of those voices that carries with it all the emotions of life. She sings, you feel all the way down to your bones. There’s no beating around the bush, no easing carefully into a note; Andra treats each phrase as though it were vital to the continuation of life itself and breathes into her audience a sense of spirit that’s not unlike going to church.
Perhaps it is too early to declare hers the voice of the year, but it is going to take someone mighty powerful to outshine the light Andra Day is shining. Take a listen to last night’s performance below, then jump out to her website or iTunes and buy the whole album. Pour yourself a glass of scotch, sit back, and let the feelings wash over you. Andra Day is one artist I’m extremely happy to see climbing toward success.