Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Sunshine Anderson....not so much a comeback but a rebirth

Sunshine Anderson
Sunshine Anderson Sunshine Anderson Sunshine Anderson Sunshine Anderson

"Two year and five months ago I would not have believed I could even be here in fact I did not even know if I wanted to be here again because that is how bad I felt. But I feel that I am a testimony that you can change your life around."

I remember picking up Sunshine Anderson’s first album 'Your Woman' (2001) on vinyl from Rhythm’n’Bass records and being absolutely hooked by this fresh new talent from North Carolina. The single, 'Heard It All Before' was a massive world-wide hit. Whilst the subject matter was more suitable for the female audience even us guys could be caught singing the catchy chorus.

But music is notoriously difficult and after releasing herself from her first label due to a protracted wait for the next album, Sunshine signed to Matthew Knowles’ label Music World Entertainment. “After my first album the label merged and they said that it would be a year and half before my second album. We were riding a fabulous wave. 'Heard It All Before' was number one for five weeks I did not want to wait for a year and half to put out the next album. So I asked for a release and I came out of that and after a short while I was signed to Matthew’s label.”

It was a partnership which seemed to guarantee success considering Knowles’ achievements with Beyonce. In 2007 she put out her sophomore album 'Sunshine At Midnight' under his label (Music World Entertainment). However despite an album that featured some big hitters like Dr Dre (when Dre was synonymous with hits) and the sublimely on point Raphael Saddique the album by all accounts bombed,” That was really hard to take because I did not understand why it did not do as well. I had Dre on there, Mike City, Raphael Saddique and I wrote on six songs on the album so I just did not get it. I was pregnant on that album actually. I worked up to about eight months pregnancy so I had a different lease on life and I was really buzzing with the prospect of my daughter coming into the world but it was hard to take.”

Any suggestion that the move to Mathew Knowles’ label was a huge negative is quickly and I sense genuinely rejected, “I did not see the move as a negative because I learnt from Matthew Knowles that this is a business and unfortunately sometimes things do not always go the way you want. I have to give Matthew Knowles props because if he had not believed in my music I would not have had the opportunity for that second album. Even though it was missed by the masses there were still some Sunshine fans that got that album and understood that album.”

Nine years from that break through and Sunshine’s life has gone through the gamut of life trials and tribulations. Indeed her struggles with depression and alcohol have been publicised but even with that publicity I am a little apprehensive to talk to her about these painful issues but in truth she is a bit of a gem. Taking the time to ask me how to correctly pronounce my name our conversation is punctuated by “Semper you know what?” or “well Semper”.

“Man outside of music I have definitely grown a lot and I think because I have been outside of music that is why I have grown. I am a regular person and because I have such long breaks in between putting out an album, I live reality.” she adds, “in fact when you have been gone as long as I have and then music comes round again then there is a transition into this “music star” because in reality my life is different and I live my life how I want to. Sometimes it can be overwhelming but because this is my third album it is not as bad.”

We calculate that come January 2011, it will be exactly four years since her last album or indeed any involvement within the music industry. Caring for her daughter Sky, marriage and then a break up in that relationship have made this four year hiatus a period of extreme growth and indeed her new album 'The Sun Shines Again' is an album that elaborates in many respects those years.

In swatting up on Sunshine I read a comment regarding the album saying that it was the same old Sunshine Anderson and that the album showed she had not grown as an artist. In truth I felt that this was an unfair comment.

It is an album that is definitely vying for equal status to her first album. “This album feels different. People were saying “Mike City and Sunshine are back together” but we were never apart. But I do get it now because I get the same feel I did when we did the first album.”

Teaming up with the ever present figure of her friend and producer Mike City, this is a “RnB album” that proudly proclaims that Sunshine is back as an artist and as an individual. “Mike knows what true RnB is. You always hearing about music infused like RnB infused with hip-hop. Why does music always have to be infused with something else, why does it have to be Neo Soul I still have not figured out what Neo Soul is. I am a true RnB artist and Mike City allows me to be that.” She adds, “I do not think I will ever do this without Mike. I do not think I will ever do an album without Mike on it. I am not sure what it is but when Mike and I get together we make magic. “

Sunshine evidently uses her life as a musical catalyst so while relationships have been her signature topic through most of her music, she seems to speak from a genuine emotional perspective. An important factor when you consider the rap artist that speaks about coming from the “motherfucking hood” which happens to be down town Chepstow in a room in his parents’ house.

No, for me, this album has some killer cuts that are just calling for radio play. Tracks like 2nd Fiddle a sweet bit of RnB to 'Call My Own' an up-tempo RnB club shaker that will have you busting the old two step, Sunshine wrestles with her demons, problems and a plethora of issues regarding relationships. Anderson is clearly not afraid to delve into those emotions and 'A Warning To The Heart' will have you misty eyed before you can reach for a tissue.

The cathartic nature of this album cannot be missed and further reinforces the genuine emotions that you can’t help but connect with, “I have been out of my marriage for over two years but I am still not divorced. But singing on the records and on the stage helped me emotionally. There were things that I thought I had let go of but I had not. People say that you have to forgive. I do not think I am there yet but I am heading in the right direction.”

The first single off the album 'Lie To Kick It' reminded me of the 90’s slow jam era and sees Sunshine exploring guys’ wish to never be up front in relationships. The video accompanying the new single start off with Anderson sporting a ring with the words “hate”, “Honestly it was directed to my failed marriage and it speaks to that relationship. It was not directed straight at him but he obviously knows.” She laughs in a rather wry fashion. She candidly adds, “You give up so much as a wife, and a mother, and a girlfriend; that sometimes you forget who you are. And so when you finally have the time to sit with yourself, and figure out who you are then you can be re acquainted.”

“Two year and five months ago I would not have believed I could even be here in fact I did not even know if I wanted to be here again because that is how bad I felt. But I feel that I am a testimony that you can change your life around.”

Anderson is definitely happier now as she professes, “There is no way that I can go into that darkness again.” Speaking about her daughter and her new life the next chapter of Sunshine’s life is here, “I am really just focusing on my daughter Sky and so I do not think that I am ready for a relationship at the moment. As much as my heart sometimes tells me that I do need a relationship I am just having a good time getting to know Sunshine Anderson.”

It has been a fair while since she blessed Blighty with her powerful and emotive voice but the wait will soon be at an end she enthusiastically proclaims, “I was last in the UK six years ago. I actually wanted to come to the UK when my last album came out but I was pregnant and the doctor gave me strict orders not to fly. But I will definitely be there with this record because I have so many real fans of my music in the UK that I just love coming there so just wait and I will be seeing you guys sometime definitely next year.”

Single 'Lie To Kick It' and album 'The Sun Shines Again' are out now.
Words Semper Azeez-Harris

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