Avery*Sunshine set for Essence Festival debut
James Todd Smith, known as LL Cool J, stops bye the pressroom on Day 1 of the 2013 Essence Music Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday, July 5, 2013 in New Orleans. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Avery(asterisk)Sunshine may be a new voice to some, but the 38-year-old Atlanta artist hopes more fans will be saying her name after her debut performance Saturday at the Essence Festival.
Her self-titled first project was released in 2010. Three years later, its singles "Ugly Side of Me," ''All in My Head" and "Blessin Me" have gained a strong following and heavy radio play.
"We're completely independent," said Avery(asterisk)Sunshine, whose real name is Denise White. "It's been one fan, one show, one tweet at a time. And now it's snowballing.
Avery Sunshine visits the pressroom on Day 2 of the 2013 Essence Music Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday, July 6, 2013 in New Orleans. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)
"This is a big deal for us to play Essence," she said. "Most of the country still has no idea who we are. There are so many who haven't heard the material and for me, this kind of invitation to perform means someone is paying attention to what I'm doing. I'm honored to have this opportunity."
At her set inside one of the festival's Superlounges — music venues set up in the Superdome's huge corridors — White was surrounded by family, including her 75-year-old mother, 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.
Greta Prince visits the pressroom on Day 2 of the 2013 Essence Music Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday, July 6, 2013 in New Orleans. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)
"To see everyone in the audience singing along with 'Ugly Part of Me,' was just ... Wow. I mean I had to hold back the tears as I saw my mom observing all of that. This experience was just nuts, electric and more than I ever expected."