Show: With Conrad Sewell on Monday at Sixth & I. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 202-408-3100. sixthandi.org. Sold out.
In another era, Andra Day might have been discovered performing in a lush lounge and nightclub where legends in jazz, blues and soul music epitomized cool. Instead the San Diego native was discovered when the legendary Stevie Wonder’s (now ex-) wife played him a clip of Day singing. Wonder introduced Day to producer Adrian Gurvitz, who would co-produce her debut album, “Cheers to the Fall,” with singer-songwriter and producer Raphael Saadiq, among others.
One of Day’s greatest strengths is her versatility, which she has demonstrated through her mashup of songs by the Notorious B.I.G. and Marvin Gaye, and through covers of songs by such artists as Jessie J, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. Her soulful vocals have been compared to the late Amy Winehouse, and it’s Day’s ability to effectively communicate romantic angst on “Cheers to the Fall” that gives the album its charm.
One of the most earnest songs on the album, “Rise Up,” earned Day one of her two Grammy Award nominations this year and was featured in Serena Williams’s Beats by Dre commercial and the film “Freeheld.” This relative newcomer calls upon her influences — be they Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan or Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu — for a sound that is retro-soul meets jazz and R&B. Day carries herself with the grace of the early jazz greats who paved the way for artists of her vocal caliber.