This weekend, Andy Allo, the 25-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter who spent two years in Prince’s New Power Generation band, will simultaneously make her Essence Festival and New Orleans debuts.
Allo left New Power Generation in 2013, which means she wasn’t in Prince’s band when he headlined the Essence Festival last year. This year she’s performing her own show Sunday in the festival’s Now Playing Superlounge.
“I’m really excited,” she said last week.
Allo’s Essence Festival performance follows the April release of her five-song EP, “Hello.” Her latest recording shows her pop and rock influences, a stylistic switch from her 2012 album, “Superconductor,” which features the unmistakably funky, soulful touch of her mentor, Prince.
“I’m multidimensional and always changing and growing,” Allo said. “I’ve always loved pop and rock music. I grew up listening to that kind of music.”
Allo spent most of her childhood in the central African nation of Cameroon. She lived in a music-loving household where many genres of music were heard, including recordings by African music stars Fela Kuti and Miriam Makeba.
“My father had an incredible record collection,” she recalled. “Music was always playing. In Cameroon, everything was musical. We were always singing. My mother plays piano as well. I was surrounded by art and creativity and musical expression.”
At 13, Allo moved to Sacramento, California, where her mother is from.
“I was a teenager, so I was listening to Backstreet Boys,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not proud of it, but I loved that music.”
Allo formed her first band in Sacramento. The group’s repertoire included Grateful Dead songs. Nowadays she loves such modern rock acts as Arctic Monkeys and Paramore.
Allo switched from piano to guitar after high school.
“I wanted an instrument that was easy to carry, so I could set up shop anywhere,” she said. “I had been writing lyrics and melodies since I was a kid, and I wanted something that could accompany my songs.”
In the New Power Generation, Allo played rhythm guitar and sang backup. The Africa Channel, a TV network that broadcast a special about the singer and her album debut, 2009’s “UnFresh,” made the link between Allo and Prince.
“They called me and said they were working with Prince and wanted to connect us because they were big fans of my music and his music,” Allo said. “They thought there’d be good synergy there. They made it happen. I joined the band a few a weeks later. I never imagined that I would work with someone like Prince. You never know who is going to introduce you to the next thing.”
Working with Prince was challenging and rewarding.
“He has very high standards for the musicians in his group,” she said. “But he creates a nurturing environment that makes you want to be better, to be great, because he’s an incredible musician and artist.”
Allo and Prince co-composed several songs together. Three of them are on her “Superconductor.” Two others are on his 2014 album, “Art Official Age.”
“When we worked on ‘Superconductor,’ I watched him arrange the music and the instruments,” she said. “I learned things that I later applied to my record, ‘Hello.’ With this new record, I spread my wings and showed what I could do on my own.”