Interviews @en

Ava Cherry : « David Bowie was fascinated by soul music »

Featured on David Bowie’s Young Americans, produced by Curtis Mayfield in 1980 and long-time Luther Vandross musical partner, Ava Cherry is a cult artist. She has also just released her new single called « That’s How Loneliness Goes », available on iTunes. !



FunkU : What is your first musical memory ?

When I was five or six years old, my mother would play albums by Frank Sinatra constantly at home. She loved his voice, and he was one of the first singers who really stood out for me. Later, I haerd Smokey Robinson and it was also a big shock.


You grew up in Chicago. How did you get into soul music ?

By the radio, of course, but also through concerts. Every weekend, we would go at the Regal Theater to attend incredible shows. I saw James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Jackie Wilson, Isaac Hayes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson and all these soul giants. A little later, Koko, one of my best friends, became Stevie Wonder‘s girlfriend. I have been fortunate to attend the sessions for the Fulfillingness First Finale album. I think that all these factors combined led me to become a singer.


Can you remember your very first recording session ?

Yes, it was with David Bowie at the Chateau d’Hérouville in 1974. It was just before the recording of the Ava and the Astronettes album. David had made me recording demos to show my potential to his producer Tony DeFries.


You also introduced introduced Bowie to Luther Vandross.

Yes. David Bowie was fascinated by soul music. I took David one night at the Apollo because he wanted to hear soul groups. He got out of the limo with his electric blue dress and red hair (laughs). Inside, Carlos Alomar and Luther Vandross were playing on stage. It is this night that David found his companions for the Young Americans album that we recorded a few months later in Philadelphia, at Sigma Studios.


Five years after Young Americans you published Ripe !!!, your first solo album produced by Curtis Mayfield. What is the history of this record?

Gil Askey, the Curtom label musical director, was supposed to produce this album, but he was visibly embarrassed that I had worked with David Bowie, and his attitude put me ill at ease. After a few sessions, I told it to Gil Askey, who then asked Curtis Mayfield if he would produce me. « But of course, with pleasure, » he replied. I thought I was going to faint. My first solo album produced by Curtis Mayfield, can you believe it ? He was one of the most charming men I’ve ever met. He was also incredibly patient in the studio. I never saw him sigh during the whole recording process.


Two years later, you released Streetcar Named Desire. How would you compare Ripe !!! to this album ?

It was an album between disco and new wave. Capitol Records, which released the album, tried to market me in the same category as Grace Jones, but it did not work. In 1987, I recorded Picture Me with Glen Ballard, which achieved a huge success a few years later with Alanis Morissette. Luther Vandross was also featured on it, but the album was not really supported by the record company.

Ava 3


In 1997 you released the EP also Spend the Night, which contains a great cover of « Forget Me Nots, » the hit of Patrice Rushen.

Like this cover ? Thank you so much ! I have been often told that it was one of the best covers of this song.


Around the same time, you have toured a lot with Luther Vandross. What memories do you keep?

These concerts were amazing, Luther was one of the best singers who walked this earth … The glamour aspect of the shows was also very important for Luther. Everything was spotless, including costumes. Some nights, I would go on stage wearing 20,000 $ dresses !



What are your plans?

After all the problems I experienced with record companies, I fell very suspicious. They take your talent, but they do not offer you anything in return. This time, I’m going to do it alone and things will happen on my new website which will open soon. My new single is called « That’s How Loneliness Goes. » It is a mid-tempo I have produced myself. John Ovnik, who worked with Stevie Wonder, Deniece Williams, Wyclef Jean and many others is also on it. We are right into the mastering process and it will be available soon. Can’t wait !

New single « That’s How Loneliness Goes » available on iTunes.


 Interview by SlyStoned