Nabil Ayers

In 1971, a white, Jewish, former ballerina chose to have a child with the famous Black jazz musician Roy Ayers, fully expecting and agreeing to his absenteeism. In MY LIFE IN THE SUNSHINE, their son Nabil Ayers recounts a life spent living with the aftermath of that decision, and his journey to build an identity of his own despite his father’s absence. Even though Nabil has only met him a handful of times, his father has been a steady influence in his life. Like Roy, Nabil became deeply involved in the music industry, first as a musician, and currently as the President of Beggars Group USA, where he has worked with musicians such as The National, St. Vincent, and Big Thief. The title of his memoir is a homage to the opening lyric from his father’s 1976 song, “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” which has always followed Nabil as both a painful and hopeful reminder of his connection to his father– reflecting the passion and ambition that they share as well as the close relationship that they don’t.

In Nabil’s search to connect with his father, he ultimately discovers the existence of several halfsiblings as well as a paternal ancestor who was enslaved. Following these connections, Nabil meets and befriends the descendant of the plantation owner, which, strangely, paves the way for him to make meaningful connections with the extended family he never knew existed. A thoughtful meditation on biracial identity, intimacy, and finding true community; MY LIFE IN THE SUNSHINE upends our conventional understanding of family and redefines its boundaries.