Andra Day: The Message
“Black women—we support, we love, we shoulder everyone's burdens, everyone's causes,” Andra Day tells Ebro Darden during a very special episode of The Message celebrating International Women’s Day. “To be honest with you, most of the time we do that with very little to no support. I think that we're starting to see people are understanding the value of Black women. You see that Billie Holiday reinvigorated the civil rights movement. She is who kicked it off as we know it. She was doing that alone.” As the Golden Globe-winning star of The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Andra Day knows more than a little bit about the singer’s struggles. Day told Ebro that preparing for the vocal performances alone required her pushing her body to limits theretofore unknown. “I smoked a lot. I drank a lot—which I don't typically do. I just stopped taking care of my voice as a vocalist. No tea, just cold ice and gin and cigarettes,” Day said. “I had to earn in a very short period of time what Billie Holiday spent her 44 years earning throughout her life. I look at her voice as a scroll, and then on that scroll is written every hit that she took, every sexual abuse, every encounter when she was a child in a brothel being raped, losing her father to Jim Crow, every time she slammed heroin, dragged a cigarette, drank, and every time she stood up to the government, stood up to the feds, [battles] she fought for singing 'Strange Fruit,' everything is written onto this beautiful, complex vocal.” Andra Day’s The Message playlist contains a multitude of voices with weight like Billie’s, women like Beyoncé, Jill Scott, Lana Del Rey, Alice Smith, and Laura Mvula, who have all given us their life experiences in song.