A Tallahassee girl’s path to the Grammy stage
From the Amos P. Godby High School basketball court to the Grammy stage, Denisia “Blue June” Andrews has made her mark as a songwriter in the music industry.
Andrews and her creative partner, Brittany “Chi” Coney, form the five-time Grammy-nominated duo, NOVA WAV, the industry’s first black female songwriting/production team, according to the Los Angeles Times.
At the 64th Annual Grammy Awards airing at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS, the dynamic duo are nominated for two of the works they produced, including Jazmine Sullivan’s No. 1 hit single on the Billboard music chart, ” Pick Up Your Feelings” and HER’s album, “The Back of My Mind.”
From being recognized for awards, to being featured in commercials, and writing for popular films, NOVA WAV has done it all.
Among their long resumes, the Florida-born partnership has written and produced songs for artists such as: Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Kirk Franklin and Kelly Clarkson, to name a few- one.
But for Andrews, Leon County is still considered “home”.
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“Leon/Gadsden County instilled in me the importance of family and camaraderie,” Andrews, 37, said in an email response to the Democrat. “It’s given me that confidence to smile at strangers on a busy New York alley and the kindness to treat everyone I meet like a close cousin because of the community values I’ve carried with me since I was born. grew up in a loving small town.”
The journey of ‘Blue June’
Andrews was born in Fort Lauderdale. His parents, late ’70s and early ’80s FAMU alumni May and Ira L. Good Andrews, Jr., moved to their hometown of Havana in 1993.
At a young age, Andrews was heavily influenced by her musically-leaning Christian family. Most of her inspiration came from her mother and father, who were both singers.
“My dad was such a smart, well-spoken man. He inspired me to aim higher academically and socially,” said Andrews, whose alias “Blue June” was chosen to honor his late father. “After my father died, my mother became a beacon of strength and perseverance. Both grew up in a time when it was hard to be people of color, but they thrived on adversity to ensure my siblings and I would have a better life.
His grandfather, Moses Harrison, was pastor at St. Luke Primitive Baptist Church in Midway, and his father was a deacon, before his death in 1999.
Andrews, along with her siblings, Tysha Washington, 43, and Ira Andrews, 34, sang in the church choir.
Washington, Andrews’ older sister by six years, recalled instances of Andrews singing solos during church services.
“Everyone was looking for her to sing because she had such a powerful voice at 10 or 11,” said Washington, also a 2001 FAMU graduate. could see her.”
Although she had a knack for singing, Andrews found herself immersed in the sport.
Throughout his high school career, Andrews played basketball at Amos P. Godby High School, which earned him a full athletic scholarship to the University of Central Florida in 2003.
After transferring schools and earning a degree in sports management from the University of North Florida in 2007, Andrews returned to Tallahassee.
“Music is something I’ve always wanted to pursue, I just didn’t know what steps to take,” Andrews said. “When I came home from college, the first thing I did was reach out to producers and songwriters in Tallahassee to hone my craft.”
After college, Andrews worked for FBMC Benefits Management, Inc., while simultaneously ironing out plans for his future in the music business.
“I thought I wanted to be an artist, but I realized that artists don’t write their music and I could actually be a songwriter,” Andrews said. “It was just more comfortable for me to be behind the scenes and in the inner workings of the creative process, so I started writing songs.”
Andrews says that while networking with different artists, she met Shock Deezy, who introduced her to Coney, the other half of what is now known as NOVA WAV.
Take a leap of faith
After Coney and Andrews met through Facebook, Andrews left his job to move to Atlanta in 2011, where Coney was living at the time.
“It was hard at first to find someone who was so attached to me because I was super passionate, and I really couldn’t find someone who matched my work ethic and intensity,” said said Andrews. “Until I met Brittany, it was like everything had changed.”
Six to eight months after Andrews joined Coney in Atlanta, she signed her first publishing deal with Akon’s brother, a Internationally renowned singer, songwriter and producer, Abou “Bu” Thiam.
NOVA WAV’s first big hit song came in 2012, when the pioneering duo were asked to write Rihanna’s “Loveeeeeee Song” with rapper Future.
They eventually moved to the West Coast in 2016 and signed with Warner Chappell Music in Los Angeles.
From a dream to reality
Andrews credits not only her family, but also her faith in God, for making it into the 1% of women who become producers. She says it’s her “spiritual upbringing and foundation” that keeps her grounded.
Washington attests to his sister’s faith.
“Where she is now is indicative of hard work, humility, perseverance and faith,” Washington said. “She is a believer and a lover of Christ, whom she holds very close to her heart.”
Andrews says that even though she imagined herself in this space, it still feels surreal.
“I have to stop and take a second and say ‘you know so many people have this dream, but not many people can live it,'” Andrew said. “It’s a blessing I will never take for granted.”
Andrew still considers NOVA WAV’s journey to this position an “honor and privilege”, despite the ups and downs to get here.
“Being a woman is powerful and sometimes it takes double work to prove yourself, but we are at our best when we work together and we are grateful to be a reflection and a vessel for others,” Andrews said in a email to Democrat. .
Andrew’s advice to young people: Always follow your dreams.
“Don’t be afraid to take risks and get out of your town, but above all, stay true to who you are,” she said.
Contact Shamonee Baker at [email protected]