In 2001, Sunshine Anderson made her debut on the music charts with a song that became an anthem of sorts for women fed up with lies and infidelity. “Heard It All Before” from the album “Your Woman” offered a solid beginning for a would-be singer who got her big break in a chance meeting while a college student at North Carolina Central University.
Since then, she’s worked with Macy Gray, toured with R. Kelly, battled depression, alcohol and drugs, experienced the heartbreak of a failed marriage and the joy of motherhood. Anderson, who has called Atlanta home for the last seven years, releases her third album, “The Sun Shines Again” in stores today.
Anderson talked with us this week about the new album, recent hardships and life in Atlanta.
Your first single “Heard It All Before” was an anthem for many women, does this album have a song that might resonate with female listeners the same way?
My first single “Lie to Kick It” has the same message. It’s a message to the men out there that you ain’t gotta lie to kick it. Sometimes men lie to cover up their wrong doings, but sometimes men lie to make themselves look better or to make us (women) happy. Their intentions are good, but in the end the truth always comes out and it’s always better to be honest. Women just want to be treated right and be valued, and part of doing that is telling the truth…even if the truth hurts.
You seemed to have experienced quite a bit of hardship between the success of your first album and your new album. How personal is this album to your own life and what will fans be able learn about you through your music?
This is my most personal album to date. I even co-wrote three of the songs. It’s a “relationship album” and it reflects the last three years of my life. Everything I sing about, I’ve been through or I know that someone, somewhere has been through that. I hear that a lot from fans, sharing their stories, that many of us go through similar situations where things don’t turn out like we expected. The music is very situational. It was very emotional for me to be in the studio with Mike City, singing these beautiful songs that so eloquently expressed what I’ve been through and how I was feeling. I’ve experienced success, failure, loss, heartaches, you name it. It was almost like therapy — releasing all these emotions through music. The last record was very dark — that’s where I was at that time in my life. But through it all, the sun always shines again. I’ve learned that and I want my fans to know that, too.
How different is it making music today versus when you were first discovered while singing in a cafeteria line at North Carolina Central University, where you were a student majoring in criminal justice?
It’s not too different as an artist because we put our heart and soul in it. I’ve always loved music and singing, but there was no pressure. I was singing other people’s songs. Now, these are my songs, my experiences, and my emotions that when people criticize the music it’s hard not to take it personally. I put my all into it, and sometimes it’s not enough for other people. And when those moments come, I have to dust myself off and keep going. I think the way we consume music (digitally) has changed more than the making of it.
Also, that moment in the cafeteria eventually led you to producer Mike City. Is there a moment that then led to reunite with Mike City several years and two albums later?
Mike City and I have never lost in touch. We have always been friends, but I needed to find myself musically and lyrically. I knew I wanted to get back in the studio and give this another try. City has always been there for me, and it just felt right that he would be a part of this project. Plus, he’s a talented producer and he had the right stuff for me. Everything aligned and was right.
What was it like working with and being managed by Macy Gray, who recently did a show here in Atlanta?
One of the best experiences of my life! I just saw her a few weeks ago in LA and it was great. She is not only an amazing person but also a great artist. One thing about me, is that I am just as much of a fan as I am an artist. And I am a fan of Macy’s. I am right there in the front row cheering for her. And she does the same for me back then as a manager. I learned a lot from Macy.
You moved to Atlanta several years ago. Was that for professional reasons – with Atlanta being a big music town? And what do you like most about living here?
Of course — it’s Black Hollywood. Atlanta is a booming music town, but it’s also where I have a lot of friends and family. I’ve called it home for so many years. Whether you’re going through tough times and good times, the only thing that matters is family and friends. This is where I wanted my daughter to grow up. The people are my favorite part. For the last few years I’ve been working at Blendz Salon as a hair stylist. I love making people feel their best. The culture of the hair salon is one of community, friendship, fun, music, laughter, and more. Day to day is never the same but it’s always full of excitement, and being in the music business is very much the same way. I am so blessed.
Sunshine Anderson will host an album release party for “The Sun Shines Again” Nov. 12 at Echelon 3000. Doors at 6 p.m. Admission is free until midnight. www.echelon3000.com, 404-294-1820.