The charismatic soul and R’n’B singer Ali Caldwell returns to Slovakia regularly and this time she came to Bratislava together with her longtime colleague – dancer and singer Avery Wilson. Both were involved in The Voice USA competition. For years they have been singing vocals together with the most successful singers of the world such as Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder or Usher. They also organize their own concerts. In Bratislava, accompanied by Martin Valihora, they sang a tribute to Tina Turner. Despite their busy schedule, they accepted the invitation to this friendly conversation, which took place in apartment No. 108.
Hotel Devín: Ali, you have beautiful hair, how long does it take you to style it like this?
Ali: Thank you very much. Definitely a good 2 hours. Um, more than 2 hours.
Hotel Devín: Yesterday you had a concert in honor of Tina Turner. Did everything go as you expected?
Avery: When people go to a Tina Turner concert, they have certain expectations. They know her songs, they have memories of her. The fans could not know what to expect. But with the last song, everyone was on their feet and there was lots of good energy everywhere.
Ali: In America, most people would film a concert on their phone. Like this. Hand above the head all the time. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, but in Bratislava, I really liked how people enjoyed the concert. It was very refreshing for us.
Hotel Devín: What is better for you, when people film the concert and then share it on social media, increase your popularity, or do you prefer when they come to enjoy the evening?
Ali: Sometimes it’s nice to see footage from the concert. We are on the scene and we don’t know how we look from the other side. But the most important thing for me is to feel the energy. A concert is an exchange of energy. It’s more than just singing on stage.
Avery: A performer’s job is to give the energy. The audience’s job is to receive this energy and give it back to us. It’s all about balance.
Ali: Everything is 50/50. There would be nothing worse than putting 1000% energy into a concert, from which nothing would come back to us. Or not giving the audience that 1000%. It’s all about balance.
Hotel Devín: Did you know Tina personally?
Ali: Oh, that would be a dream. We didn’t know her. This tribute would have a different dimension if we sang during her life and could give her flowers while she was still here. To meet her and talk to her face to face.
Avery: Even though we didn’t know her, I think it was a beautiful show of respect and love for her.
Ali: Even though she wasn’t physically with us, we prepared the concert as if she was sitting in the front row in the center, seeing and feeling it with us. It was a wonderful show and a very nice experience.
Hotel Devín: How did you meet Martin Valihora?
Ali: Kimberley Davis, who often played with Martin, could no longer fly back and forth between America and Slovakia. She called me to ask for a little bit of help and that’s how it all started.
Hotel Devín: Thank you Kimberley for being so busy.
Ali: I have been playing with Martin Valihora and his band for over 7 years. We played together at the Fashion Week in Prague, at the Ples v opere in Bratislava. I get to meet his family, his daughter Viky was nine when I was here for the first time, today she is sixteen. We are family friends now.
Hotel Devín: How did you two meet?
Avery: I knew Ali’s voice before I knew her personally and I by the way I have always thought that it is one of the best voices in the world. We have even talked once on a show in New York where she sang. It was more of a courtesy interview: How are you? Fine. Your singing is so beautiful. Oh thank you. We took pictures. Only later did I get to know her as a person and I found out how genuine and sincere she is.
Hotel Devín: What do you love the most about each other?
Avery: Ali’s heart. She is so genuine, pure and honest. If she called me she needed help, I would come immediately.
Ali: I am very iffy about people I open up to. People are very fickle. You cannot trust anyone. I’m scared that somebody might come in, hurt me and leave a hole in me. I let Avery in. He is my brother. We laugh at everything together. Like now.
Hotel Devín: What do you think of Slovakia and Bratislava?
Ali: I’ve been coming back here regularly for 7 years!
Avery: I’m here for the first time, my sister Ali brought me here.
Hotel Devín: But you’re not really brother and sister, are you?
Ali: We are friends but we have become brother and sister. We spend so much time together, we sing together everywhere, we traveled the world during concerts, we understand each other very well. It’s not always just blood that connects people.
Ali: I love Bratislava! People still ask me why I came to little Slovakia. As if there was nothing to admire. You were born here, it’s normal for you. When I came here for the first time, I immediately thought how wonderful it is here. I have been around Slovakia and everything was new and beautiful to me. I’m from America, for me it’s exotic, different and beautiful. All the people were always very nice to me, not a single person treated me badly. That’s why I keep coming back here. Yesterday, for example, we sailed on the Danube. We boarded a speedboat at a private marina and went as far as Vienna. It was a beautiful experience.
Avery: I am in Slovakia for the first time. We have been trapped in these coldest days of the summer. But today is beautiful. I walked around Hviezdoslavovo námestie, I watched people, I really like it here. I like the tradition, the food. There is a lot of cigarettes, this is a bit unusual for me.
Hotel Devín: Do you like something about the hotel?
Ali: The beds! They are top! The reason why I’m late everywhere are the beds! I was so tired, still traveling, time difference, we worked a lot this week, rehearsals, concerts, TV. I love to sleep and these beds are a trap! The blackout curtains, I can close them and sleep all day.
Avery: I really like these China cabinets in the apartments. My mom had a similar one, it reminds me of her. The hotel has a vintage atmosphere, you can feel the history. And beautiful chandeliers.
Ali: Every time I come to this hotel and it’s not my first time, I get flowers. They are waiting for me together with champagne, it is a beautiful welcome and I feel very welcome.
Hotel Devín: Thank you very much for the beautiful interview and we wish you lots of good energy at your concerts!