By Bob Marovich
When Audrey Cher was born, her parents wanted to make certain her name meant something in the entertainment industry. So they called her Audrey after Audrey Hepburn and Cher for, well…Cher.
“I’m walking in my name,” gospel singer and recording artist Audrey Cher told JGM last week.
Born in Mount Clemens, Michigan, a town that once drew Hollywood celebrities to its mineral bathhouses, Audrey moved to Detroit, where she attended Bishop G. M. Boone’s New Liberty Apostolic Faith Church. There, she sang in the choir and at thirteen, joined the praise team. It would be another four years before she did a vocal solo publicly. After that, there was no stopping her.
In 1995, Audrey moved to Crete, Illinois, a community south of Chicago, where she joined Christian Life Center, under the pastorate of Jerry McCoy. Still, many of Audrey’s music influences hail from the Motor City. They include Anita Baker (the two lived near one another), the Winans, and the Clark Sisters. Audrey eventually sang backup for Karen Clark Sheard on a studio recording and shared the stage with a range of other top vocalists—from Jennifer Hudson to Pastor Shirley Caesar.
A wife, mother of four, owner of a day care center in Chicago Heights, and founder of a nonprofit mentoring organization called iPurpose, Audrey still finds time to pursue her passion for singing. For the past three years, she has toured with funk band PJ & Soul, where she is called in the middle of sets to sing inspirational songs.
“Everywhere I go, I sing inspirational songs,” she said. “I’ve sung at festivals and in clubs, places where God is not always accepted. But I’ve seen broken hearts mended, people delivered from alcoholism, and I have connected people with churches.”
“I’m now ready to step out on my own,” Audrey adds, as she and PJ & Soul prepare for a March 5 engagement at Wire, a music venue in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn. Since she will be performing material from her debut solo CD, Audrey Cher: The Intro, due out this spring, Audrey is calling the Wire gig her “pre-release party.”
Pennal Johnson—the “PJ” of PJ & Soul—is one of several producers who worked on the solo outing. Sharay Reed, Andrae Ambrose, DeWayne Bradford, and husband Mark La Branche also contributed production to the album. Audrey said that the decision to use multiple producers with stylistic differences was deliberate. “I wanted the album to show the broader scope of my versatility.”
All the album selections, except one, are Audrey’s own compositions: she co-wrote “Wrapped Up” with producer Bradford. She said her current single, the mellow and jazzy “Follow You,” was written during a “space in my life when I needed some answers. God said, ‘Just follow me and I will take you to a place where I will minister to you.’”
The “Bigger and Better” concert with PJ & Soul will take place at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, at Wire, 6815 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, Illinois. For more information, call Wire at (708) 669-9473 or visit Audrey Cher’s music page at www.reverbnation.com/audreycher.