SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego's own Andra Day won the Golden Globe award for best actress in a drama film, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," on Sunday night.
Day, who portrayed Billie Holiday in the film, started her journey here in San Diego, singing in the church choir at First United Methodist in Chula Vista. Family friend, Raelynn Fuson, told ABC 10News anchor Kimberly Hunt that anyone who has ever heard her sing knew she had a talent for Tinsel Town.
"I also have loved watching her develop and grow into this strong powerful female voice, especially for racial justice," said Fuson, the youth and young adult director for First United Methodist.
Day credits a high school teacher at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts for introducing her to the music and voice of Holiday.
"The choices she made when she was singing was so different it changed my idea of what a great singer is. And really helped me to own my voice eventually," Day told Hunt during an interview.
Those teachings making Day prime to take on the role of the complicated and irrepressible Holiday. Doyle says he wanted Day to understand her uniqueness was a gift.
"When she sang it evoked something from the listener ... And it wasn't phrasing ... It was the actual sound of her instrument," said former SDSCPA teacher Bill Doyle. Innate qualities Doyle says that only come from the soul. "She was music! When she sang, you saw a different creature than when she didn't sing."
That soul and gift leading to two Grammy nominations and her win at this week's Golden Globe Awards.
"But I knew that whatever it is that I make, I want it to stop people, or slow them down, or give that moment of pause or reflection," Day told Hunt. "Whether it's a protest song or a love song."
Her return to San Diego over the years to reach out to youth is something that Chair of the Theater Department at SDSCPA Roxane Carrasco says has been an inspiration
"And she looks you right in the eye, and she's real. And for some of these kids it's absolutely life changing to realize," Carrasco said. "Thru all the struggles, dead ends, or resistance. We can all rise."
That generous time and support so appreciated by SDSCPA's faculty.