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Talent, beauty and versatility: Former Popstar Andrea Henry talks to AfroToronto.com

27 Nov 2005

We’ve all seen her before, though some may not recall exactly where.

We’ve all heard her vocal talent on national television and in performances with the likes of Destiny’s Child.

Over the past 5 years, she has performed across Canada and throughout the U.K. She has also been heard on radio stations across the country. We all remember first seeing her back in 2001. The name of the show was Pop Stars, and the resulting group was Sugar Jones, featuring one of the GTA’s most talented vocalists: Andrea Henry.

At the time, Andrea was in Hamilton, working at a day camp, and performing locally on occasion. Knowing her love of music, the campers encouraged her to tryout for a show called Pop Stars. So she did, although reluctantly at first. Four years later, after Sugar Jones’ successful album earned them a Radio Music Award, and 2 Juno nominations, Andrea is still going strong, with no intentions of slowing down any time soon. Her momentum has brought her right back to the studio, in preparation for her inevitable solo album, with her new band Crystal Soul.

Toronto artist Andrea Henry

“I chose the name Crystal Soul, because music is a reflection of my inner most thoughts and feelings. The name is a representation of myself,” she says.

Indeed, a fitting name for her eclectic mix of Funk, Soul, and R&B supported by guitar, keyboard, drums, and bass.

Andrea says her musical tastes are quite varied. Her influences include old school divas such as Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle as well as new school icons such as Aaliyah, Lenny Kravitz, and the uber-talented Mary J. Blige.

Andrea Henry already has many years of performance experience under her belt. While many of us as children spent our time in front of the TV watching cartoons, Andrea was getting ready for the entertainment industry.

She spent much of her free time performing in a number of dance groups, including the Dominican Creole Dancers, Kaleidoscope (now the Universoul Dancers), and later, singing backup for a band called Jah Groove.

In addition to her musical talents, Andrea is also a gifted visual artist. With years of experience with oil paints and pastels, she delights in creating personalized pieces that are as unique as the individuals she creates them for.

“I love sitting down with my clients, to get to know them, to know what they like, what their style is,” she says. “Then I work on their piece based on their ideas. It’s more personal that way.”

Her artwork has been featured at many of her performances, as well as galleries such as the Ground Up Gallery in Hamilton, and continues to be displayed on her website.

Despite being known mostly for her artistic endeavors, Andrea Henry also has a background in modeling, having participated in a number of pageants in Toronto, including the Miss Dominica Pageant, and the Miss Black Ontario Pageant.

She also demonstrated her acting abilities last year, when she was invited by a playwright friend to audition for a play called “After All” by Carol Anderson, featured at the Rock, Paper, Sistahz Festival at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace. She not only landed one of the lead roles, but impressed the producers so much with her creative talents, that they used one of her artistic pieces for the main backdrop. In 2005, she again returned to perform at the festival, this time in a lead role in the reading of the Hip Hop drama “Only You”.

Another of Andrea’s many interests include participating in community activities and motivational speaking events geared towards supporting and empowering youth. She has spoken at many schools in Hamilton and Toronto, and regularly participates in activities with the JYD Project, such as fundraising events for the “Feed the Children” program, that provides breakfast in schools for students in low-income neighborhoods. For her many community efforts, she was awarded the Youth Scholarship Award for community service in 1997.

With such a vast range of skills, and a long list of accomplishments, it is refreshing to see her as devoted as she is to remaining a positive role model. In an era where many beautiful artists become swayed by negative influences, Andrea Henry has committed herself to doing things her way, without compromise. And with her talent and persistence as the forces that continue to drive her, her first solo effort will undoubtedly be a success, and an album to look forward to.

To get a glimpse of Crystal Soul and Andrea Henry’s amazing vocal talents, come out to the Trane Studios this Friday November 11th, and Friday November 18th, at 9 pm. The host of this soulful event will be the multi-talented entertainer Subliminal, while DJ Black Lotus will be setting the mood for the evening.

Afrikana, a piece by Andrea Henry available for sale through her website, www.andreahenrymusic.com

For more information on Andrea Henry, please visit www.andreahenrymusic.com

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