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Mic Check: Avery Sunshine releases song for those lost during the COVID-19 crisis

Avery Sunshine has a new song in honor of those lost during the COVID-19 crisis and is releasing a makeup line later this year. Photo: Dana “BigDANE” Johnson
Avery Sunshine has a new song in honor of those lost during the COVID-19 crisis and is releasing a makeup line later this year. Photo: Dana “BigDANE” Johnson

Editor's note: With live music and concert reviews on hold due to COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is focusing on how Georgia musicians are spending their time in our feature, Mic Check.

Avery Sunshine isn’t someone who stays idle.

Even though her spring and summer tour dates — including a run overseas — went the way of all live music these past few months, she and musical partner/husband Dana Johnson filled the performing need with occasional online concerts and a newly released song to honor those who have died during the COVID-19 crisis.

The heart-tugging, soulful ballad, "How Will You Remember Me?" was written for the Georgia Coalition 2 Save Lives, which started the Loved Ones, Not Numbers initiative. The song — available on all digital platforms and Sunshine's website (averysunshine.com) — is paired with an equally affecting video, which Sunshine has posted on her Facebook page.

Music, naturally, has served as Sunshine’s primary outlet for both healing and frustration these past few months, but she’s also finally found time to delve into her entrepreneurial side with a makeup line she plans to offer in her online store.

While Sunshine, a Pennsylvania native whose career has been rooted in Atlanta, isn’t overly optimistic about the opportunities to perform live this year, an Aug. 8 show at Mableton House Barnes Amphitheatre is still scheduled.

But, as any musician knows, fluidity these days is key.

Here’s what Sunshine had to say recently about her life during coronavirus time.

Atlanta-based Avery Sunshine. Photo: Dana "BigDANE" Johnson
Atlanta-based Avery Sunshine. Photo: Dana "BigDANE" Johnson

How have you been spending time during the past few months?

Writing music and every so often, I’ll pop online and do a show. It’s one thing to do a show and there’s 200 people there, but you don’t want to do too much of it, and it was getting so saturated with everybody doing the same thing.

I’ve got a makeup line coming out. A lot of the messages I’d get while doing the shows were, “What’s going on with those lashes?” and “What lipstick are you wearing?” People have been asking me for years, so since I had the time, I sat down and did it. It’s called Lou*Mack Beauty in honor of my great-grandmother. She was Lou Mack, a Pentecostal preacher who never wore makeup — which is the irony. I have pictures of her when she was taking care of a white family and holding a baby and hanging up clothes, and I didn’t even realize how important it was for me to honor her and tell her story. Of course, she had no idea that all these years later her great-granddaughter would be looking at those photos. … The idea is you’re beautiful whether you have lipstick on or not, but if you choose to put some on, use mine! And being home in this time, you see people online without having their hair cut and the gray coming in. How beautiful that you’re able to see who the individual is? We look like exactly who we are in our natural space. I started this process maybe two years ago, but I stopped because I wanted the bottles to be designed the way I wanted, and I wanted to come up with the colors. We were touring, and it was too much. I just turned 45, and I don’t want to turn 50 saying, “I wish I had.”

We’ve been finding ways to be active and to give back and create income and to bring about awareness.

What are you listening to?

I’m always into Donny Hathaway and have been listening to a new guy by the name of Lucky Daye. Also, an amazing (Atlanta) group called Cousin. Dana has done work with (singer-songwriter) Rob Milton (who launched the band). I’m doing some writing with Rob on my upcoming album. I’ve been passively listening to what the kids have been listening to — I don’t even know the names of some of this stuff — and I find myself trying to be more creative. In the playlist, Stevie Wonder will pop in or (son) Evan will be in his room and Snarky Puppy will pop up. (The younger generations kids) keep their fingers on the pulse of what is new. It’s healthy to not get stuck in tradition. I appreciate their new tradition in wanting to always look for the next thing, and we have to find that balance with what is and what has been and marry that with what we have to do right now. I am moved and inspired by these children and their commitment.

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