Sounds Like: One in the morning at your favorite cabaret bar
For Fans of: Emeli Sandé, Melanie Fiona, Seinabo Sey
Why You Should Pay Attention: Don't be fooled by the images of Andra Day in doo-rags and vintage furs like a post-millennial Billie Holiday. Far from a retro artist, her music spans from "Forever Mine," which is inspired by the Flamingos' doo-wop classic "I Only Have Eyes For You," to the soaring empowerment anthem "Rise Up," which she performed last month on the BET Awards. "I'm not going to put myself in a box," she says. "Whichever chord progressions move me, whether it's rock, jazz, doo-wop or soul, I'm going to put it together and not be worried about whether people can put it in a lane or not." Born Andra Batie and raised in San Diego, she grew up singing contemporary Christian music in church as well as studying at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. She was performing in local nightclubs when none other than Stevie Wonder discovered her. He put her in touch with Adrian Gurvitz, who signed her to his production company Buskin. Andra then filmed a series of popular YouTube covers such as Muse's "Uprising," Jessie J's "Mamma Knows Best" and a mashup of Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)" and Amy Winehouse's "He Can Only Hold Her." Those clips piqued Warner Bros. Records' interest, leading to a label contract and, now, her forthcoming debut album Cheers to the Fall. Featuring contributions from Raphael Saadiq, the Dap-Kings, and ?uestlove, it's scheduled for August 21.
They Say: Andra's imaginative rearrangement of Eminem's "Lose Yourself," which has clocked nearly a million views, may be the highlight of her covers series. "'Lose Yourself' came about because my sister and I were just playing around with the music, like, what could we do with the chords? She played the music, and I just sang it, but I sang it completely different [from the Eminem version]."
Hear for Yourself: Day's "Forever Mine" is an unabashedly romantic testament to spiritual love and commitment — with a video directed by Spike Lee. Mosi Reeves