Audrey V- the name of one of the next R&B sensations to come out of Chicago. She recently won an exclusive feature on What’s The Word with her new single “My Way.” The visual for the single was released just a week ago and Audrey leaves much to be desired. She is a songstress with much soul. Audrey sat down with us to talk about her new album, who her inspirations are, and how she stays sane in today’s climate.
Corli Jay: You won an exclusive feature with What’s The Word during the NeXt Showcase Live Session. What was this process like?
Audrey V: I just loved the fact that everyone seemed to receive the song so well, because I actually dropped the single in late March. But I think because of the circumstances, with everything that’s going on in the world it didn’t pick up as much until I dropped the video. It was just nice to have the song itself have its praises for a little bit.
Corli Jay: What’s the guy’s name that plays your love interest?
Audrey V: His name is Dre…Andre
Corli Jay: Were there other actors that you wanted to use or was he the only one that came to mind for it?
Audrey V: There was someone else that I had previously. So the backstory on the video, I was supposed to have shot this video at the end of March. Obviously, the pandemic changed everything and I could no longer shoot it because of the scenes and everything we had in place, everything was closed. So I had to keep pushing it back and pushing it back, so the guy that I had originally agreed to use, he no longer felt comfortable doing it because of COVID. So it kind of put me in a tight spot, but I knew that I wanted to use somebody that I could trust. Dre is somebody I can trust a whole lot because of the fact that we’re really good friends.
Corli Jay: The song seems like a women’s empowerment song to me. It allows us to take back our sexuality and take pride in that, like you said, I want to do things My Way.
Audrey V: Thank you. I really wanted this to be a song that women can feel powerful listening to. It’s for us to take our power back, I feel like a lot of these men are entering these relationships and just dating, they think they hold the power and they hold the cards, but ultimately everything is up to us. Everything is our decision. So, say you want to go there on the first night, then that’s your choice. But we should never feel pressured to do anything, just because he’s taking us out and spending money on us, “oh you think you gone get this tonight?” No. And that’s what I wanted to show in the video with the dynamic of me and Dre.
Corli Jay: Let’s talk about the beginning of your career. How did you actually get started singing? Did you grow up in the church?
Audrey V: Honestly I’ve been singing as early as I can remember, which is my whole life. My parents, when they saw that I had a talent they put me in lessons immediately, always engaged in music, always surrounded by music. I did grow up in church, but I didn’t start singing in church until I was in highschool. My mom is Catholic, it just doesn’t hit the same to me, in terms of the music and the experience. When I start going to Apolostic Church of God, that really played a part in my spiritual growth and that’s when I started singing in choir. They actually gave me free piano lessons when I was at Apostolic too.
Corli Jay: Do you still play piano?
Audrey V: Honestly, I’m just getting back to it. I played in high school. When I went away to college I kind of fell off because school in itself is just very time consuming, if you’re going to be dedicated to the piano that takes time too. I haven’t played in 10 years, and when the quarantine started with the pandemic that’s what kind of told me this would be the perfect time to kind of get back to the piano. I’ve been reteaching myself within the last two months , how to play and familiarizing myself with my keyboard. I still have my keyboard from highschool today.
Corli Jay: Have you always taken music seriously? Or was there a time when you just finally buckled down and said this is what I want to do with my life?
Audrey V: I always knew this is what I wanted to do. At every age and every stage I knew that this was what I wanted to do and this is going to be my life’s work, or at least one of the things that was going to be my life’s work. I always had a strong deep love and passion for music. When I got to college is when it got more realistic for me because I was a part of different student organizations that were allowing me to be on stage so I started performing frequently for college events…Once I graduated I really buckled down and said I’m going to take this seriously because I was dropping singles my senior year, but it was really hard for me to maneuver both because I was just trying to graduate.
Corli Jay: Do you feel like college propelled your career with all the networks you gained or do you feel like it slowed you down because it was so time consuming?
Audrey V: I don’t regret the time I had at school. I think there was a time when I was in school and I hated it, I was like I wish I could just be done with this and just do music. But honestly looking back at it, that was the best time of my life. I wouldn’t take that back for anything. Granted I’m pursuing a degree I’m not trying to use, but just the relationships that I gained, the friendships, people that I went to school with still support me heavily. They feel like they saw it from the beginning.
Corli Jay: I think that is one great thing about college, the close knit community when you are an artist and getting everyone involved with the process. I wanted to talk about your Youtube page, when did you start that?
Audrey V: You know what’s funny? I started my Youtube page in highschool and I used to make my own little singing videos. I was doing anything I could to get myself and my voice out there and as I got older I took down the homemade videos for better content. In 2018 I started doing covers in my apartment called Sultry Sundays with Audrey Valentine.
Corli Jay: Was that part of the rebranding?
Audrey V: That was a part of the rebranding, I had already dropped an EP and it was doing good and I wanted to continue to have content to put out there. I just told myself that I need to start taking my Youtube channel more seriously and post quality videos on there. I’m really excited that a lot of my videos are really starting to reach people. Specifically I think it’s one that I did of Brandy “Brokenhearted.”
Corli Jay: Oh yes! I definitely was going to ask you about that. That video has over 6,000 views. You went viral off that video, how does that feel? Did
you expect that? Why did you choose that song? Give me everything about that video.
Audrey V: It feels so good, Brandy is one of my favs, period. I’m a huge R&B lover and Brandy has always been one of my favorite artists, I’ve always looked up to her. “Brokenhearted” is one of my favorite songs of hers…it’s very heartfelt and I can sing it with a bunch of passion. I didn’t understand the reach that doing a Brandy song does, after posting it I’m seeing how many views it’s getting. I did the sitting up in my room challenge where I did another song of Brandy’s and that got like 3,000 views on my instagram in two days. It’s something about her, anything of hers that I’ve done has gone viral in a short span of time.
Corli Jay: Do you still take lessons? There are professionals out here that do everything they can to perfect their craft, to do anything they can just to get better even if they feel they are the best. Do you do that?
Audrey V: Not at this particular moment, no I don’t. But I was taking lessons about 3 years ago. I’ve been saying that I want to go ahead and just continue to own my craft. I always feel like there is room for improvement even if you’re the best you can be even better than you feel you are. I’m open to continue on with vocal lessons. I think I’m so sidetracked with the piano that I’m just trying to wrap my head around relearning.
Corli Jay: I watched the Lift Every Voice video on your Youtube. It was so beautiful. You dropped it for Juneteenth right?
Audrey V: Yes I did.
Corli Jay: So you had everything planned out? You wanted to do the Black National Anthem for us on that day?
Audrey V: Honestly I didn’t even think about that until that Wednesday. Two days before Juneteenth. I really wanted to do something to commemorate, and I thought of the idea of shooting a cover video of me singing “Lift Every Voice” and luckily I was able to set everything up with my videographer and the location we shot at, it just worked out perfectly. We shot that the night before Juneteenth, not even 24 hours after I posted it did we shoot that video. (Laughs)
Corli Jay: What did the tribute and Juneteenth mean to you?
Audrey V: Juneteenth is important because we need to celebrate our freedom, we need to celebrate being black. I think that the times that we’re in today we need to spend more time just appreciating and loving on who we are as a culture and as a people. I would have been remiss if I didn’t do something to celebrate black people on a day that should be more important to us. A lot of black people, including myself, are just recently learning what Juneteenth is. It’s still a very new holiday to a lot of black people and I blame my educational system for that.
Corli Jay: How do you feel about the uprising and all of the protests? Do you feel like America has truly shown itself sorry for treating black Americans the way that it does? Do you think there has been progress over the past couple months?
Audrey V: I definitely will say there has been some progress. I have never seen it get to a point where you have businesses and companies emailing their customers apologizing to black people for previous discrimination…In one sense I think it’s BS, a lot of these companies are doing it save face. Who’s to say that they actually feel the way they feel, who’s to say they are really sorry? I think it got to a point where if you don’t share an apology letter or say something about it, then you’re going to look like a racist and you’re going to be blackballed. At the same time it is a good start and a foot forward in the right direction.
Corli Jay: What we can expect from you in the future? Let us know what you have planned.
Audrey V: For sure. I am in the midst of working on my album, excited about that. I am more than likely going to drop one more single and video before the end of the year. And for the people that don’t know, I’m a philanthropist as well. This is my third year that I’ll be doing my benefit concert for homelessness in Chicago. Given the circumstances and everything that’s happening, I’m actually planning a virtual concert for the first time.
Corli Jay: What’s the name of the concert?
Audrey V: Harmonize for Harmony. Usually it happens around the holiday between my birthday and Christmas, I’m four days after Christmas.
Corli Jay: Awesome, who are some of your partners?
Audrey V: I do it all myself. I’ve been doing this whole thing myself for 3 years. We’re looking for partners this year. My goal soon is to have my own nonprofit organization, that way we can have funding to do even more.
Corli Jay: And you had different artists come out and perform? Who were some of the artists?
Audrey V: Yes, last year I had Chanelle Tru, Laje, Kali X, Mother Nature it was an all female lineup, The year before that we had Richie West Joel Q, Kid Breeze…
Corli Jay: I love Kid Breeze, he has great music.
Audrey V: He’s amazing. I have a lot of stuff that he’s produced for me.
Corli Jay: On the album?
Audrey V: On the album as well as stuff I already put out. “Say Yes” he produced that, my song “Take my time” he produced that.
Corli Jay: What kind of collaborations do you have for the project?
Audrey V: I’m definitely going to feature some of the music I have dropped as singles so Kid Breeze will be on there. Richie West…That’s all I can think of right now because I’ve collaborated with a lot of artists in the past and my team feels like we want more of Audrey. It’s going to be more me than what I’ve had previously.
Coril Jay:Any final thoughts before we wrap up?
Audrey V: I just want to say thank you for speaking with me. It’s very hard for me to find ways to stay creative but I’m doing it, working as hard as I can to be the artist that I am during the madness. So I appreciate the platforms and vlogs that take the time to support and appreciate the art that I’m putting out.
Check out Audrey V’s latest single “My Way” below.