Music Bridges Local Community in City's Westside Music Festival

Thursday, 15 August 2013 23:40 Written by  Iya Bakare

The force that introduced her music to mainstream ears drew artist Avery*Sunshine back to the city she credits for breaking her career in the industry. Next week, along with R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn, Avery will participate in Chicago’s 2nd Annual Westside Music Festival as they show support of the city’s efforts to keeps arts in the community. The weekend celebration hosts a series of free concerts on the west side of the city for members of the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Local singers and musicians showcase their talents to the communities that influenced their art and nurtured their gifts.

“I’m from the ‘hood and I understand the value of the art coming to the people,” Avery admits. “I’m grateful for local community organizations that bring it to people who wouldn’t know it otherwise. I’m able to sow those seeds and I’m grateful for that.”

The East Coast native gives gratitude to Derrick Brown, program director of Chicago’s V103 radio station, as the first to give air time to her single, “Ugly Part of Me”. The Chicago-area native heard the song on YouTube and contacted her management, Avery says.

“He gave it a chance when no one else would play it and everyone else said ‘there’s nothing on your record’,” the songstress continues. “God told him to play that record. There’s a force greater than you when something like that happens.”

The artist says she’s eager to return to the Midwest for the upcoming music festival and perform for her supporters.

“I will perform for two people or 2,000 people,” she says. “When you feel they’re feeling you, it’s a natural exchange.”

Avery says she continues to yield to what God wants her to do, whether it’s taking care of her family or working on her music. Exciting collaborations and writers are featured on her upcoming sophomore project. As an independent artist, the singer acknowledges how it can be a challenge to promote one’s work, which kicked her creativity gear into overdrive. She seeks to also help other independent artists in the music community who want to pursue careers in the industry.

“I’m blessed for the resources I have and creativity comes out of necessity,” she says. “People have to realize that this business is not just about the talent. It’s about the drive and the team. You have to want to do this, focus on managing the company and not just focus on the music.”

Growing up listening to the sounds of the late George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Roberta Flack, Michael McDonald, Donny Hathaway, Maurice White and Earth Wind and Fire to name a few, Avery says there was nothing music-related that was off limits to her. She credits her parents for their support of her love for the arts. It was a dream come true for the singer/pianist to play on the same stage at the Opera House in Wilmington, Del. where her mother took her as a child. With the murder of her nephew, Avery expresses the necessity of the connection between community and family, but how music can be a bridge.

“Art is a part of our lives and who we are, which makes us whole. We as a people are creators and we need to make sure our children are exposed to the arts. When there are more opportunities that are available, there will be more connections with our children.”

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Westside Music Festival.

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

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