We are so very privileged to have the beautiful Dannielle DeAndrea grace us with some fabulous insights into her wonderful musical journey, including some wise advice as well! Read on and enjoy the heart and soul you'll feel in this beautiful artist.
Where do you call home?
Where the heart is, Australia will always be my home cause it’s where I was born and my Mum, family and really close friends are there, but LA and Nashville are also my homes too now, and I have a second family and a stack of new friends that I don't know what I would do without.
How would you describe what you do as a performer?
I’m quite open on stage, I’m more relaxed now, than I used to be, still prep heaps for a gig, but try not to get so worked up before it, as it’s just music and there are more serious things happening in the world. I guess that comes with age and moving countries to start again, I’ve learnt a lot and sing and write from a different place since leaving Australia 9 years ago. The struggle has been good for me.
What are the styles of music that you sing mostly?
Well my new album or should I say 3 EP’s are genre specific. I have a Jazz EP, a Country/folk EP and a more Soul EP, so I’m still mixing it up.
Who are some of the people you have loved singing and performing with?
I love singing with my side project "The SongBirds." Gaby Moreno and Erica Canales, those girls are just so great and we get on so well, it’s a very special group. We are coming to Oz for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival this year and then doing a few shows in NSW and Melbourne, YAY!
I love singing with The Song And Dance Society (Jackson Browne Band.) We started this Wednesday night jam thang a few years ago after touring and every now and again we get back together and do another night and it’s always AWESOME! We have to record this group, even if it’s just to have for ourselves! I swear Byron Bay Blues Fest would love it!
Van Dyke Parks, recently was such a TOP experience, what a genius he is and way too funny!
There are some other musicians that I just love to sing with here in LA, Bruce Forman, Jeff Young and Larry Goldings to name a few. Of course I LOVE singing with Kyle, my husband, that's really special, and in Oz I always have to make sure I do a gig with Jonathon Zwartz, and we have a couple this time around too so YAY!
Singing with John Farnham was always a treat, he’s so friggin’ great and consistent and the band are awesome and such top blokes. Still dream of singing with Stevie Wonder! Singing at Prince’s house that one time was fun, but he was just listening hehehe (yes it was a trip.)
What is the best thing about being a singer/entertainer?
I think being able to sing for a living, is probably one of the best things one could ask for, but then again, that’s cause I love it! Sure there are hard times, but I get to call the shots, sometimes those shots aren’t the right calls, haha, but for the most part I get it right! I absolutely love performing and connecting with the audience, especially having them sing with me at the end of each gig, just love that! I love to teach and see my student’s faces, when they unlock, or get something they never thought they could do, when they release their fear and tears fill their eyes, that’s pretty magic! It’s a natural therapy for most, something that I HAVE to do, otherwise I get quite sad! Thank God my mum always told me I could, so I never questioned it and just let it out! Would have been good too if she mentioned on the odd occasion that I was clever at maths hahaha.
Who were some of your favourite singers/entertainers growing up?
STEVIE WONDER I remember buying "Hotter Than July" for my walkman and wearing out the tape, trying to learn all the lines he did, then I back peddled and got all the early records and brain washed myself on him.
MICHAEL JACKSON Huge influence on me, especially the early years, his conviction is like no one else’s! What a star he was!
Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Karen Carpenter, Harry Nilsson (though I didn’t realize who he was til much later, Mum played him a lot and I’m such a huge fan.)
So many others, I guess growing up in a musical family helped, Mum had the big dancing school and a serious vinyl collection, two of each if I remember correctly, one for the house, one for the school! Not sure how we danced to records without them jumping hahaha! But I always had great music around me.
I still remember being in the car with my Mum and my brother Eden and her constantly playing “Jesus Christ SuperStar” “Liza with a Z” “Neil Diamond live from the Greek” and “Divine Miss M” and we all knew every word! Hahaha
What’s it like to sing as a profession?
I LOVE it, very grateful to be able to do it!
What have been some of the biggest highlights in your career?
Oh boy, there are quite a few, some of them are the littlest gigs but have left me with the most incredible feeling, where I’d be in the car driving home, saying to myself, “top 3 gigs of all time, wish my ma could have seen that” Oh and probably would have been good to get that one recorded hahaha! Glastonbury with Jackson Browne was a bit of alright hehe Farnham live “Last Time Tour” was too great.
One of my biggest highlights was being a part of Club Buggery and singing every week with Louise Anton, those four years were TOP fun, we had a blast, would do it again in a heart beat.
How did you come across those wonderful opportunities?
Every opportunity has come from something else. Sometimes, it’s just being in the right place at the right time, sometimes, it’s cause you have been recommended highly and sometimes it’s that magic of someone hearing you and just coming up and saying “Can we work together?" Jackson heard me and basically called me up the day before the first rehearsal to ask me to come on the road! Glenn Shorrock gave me my first job after discovering me on Star Search, he is someone I owe a lot to, always had my back, such a gentleman and even though we don’t get to sing a lot together, I love singing with him.
What have been the biggest obstacles?
Well when I was younger, it was hard for me to tell someone “This is how I want to do it” because I was raised to respect my elders, but some of those elders, didn’t know what to do with me, so therefore, I was signed to a huge company, I could cover a few different genres, I was good, but didn’t stand up for what I wanted, part of me didn’t even ask myself what I wanted! As long as those around me were happy, it must be right. I think if I started now, I’d be doing things very differently, I look at some young artists that I really admire and think, “Man they are tough!" Wish I had that when I was their age, maybe I’d be further along.
How did you overcome the obstacles?
Still overcoming some haha More like lessons and we never stop learning! Even when I broke both my wrists and couldn't dress or feed myself for two weeks, it happened for a reason, that was a huge obstacle, but I came out the other side so much happier and lighter!
What country you would love to visit? Why?
Italy, always had an obsession, even had my chart done and I have a long tie to that place for some reason, then of course I married an Italian and say no more.
How did you choose singing as a career?
Well mum was a dance teacher (still is) and dad was a drummer and all his side of the family sung, it was just something that I always thought was part of life.
How would you advise someone who wants to sing or perform professionally?
Practice, practice, practice, sing as much as you can, learn everything and get your head around theory and using your ear, always learn the sound person’s name, help the guys pack up the gear, don’t be that typical chick singer, who just turns up and starts to sing, expecting the band to know what’s going on, learn your stuff!
Take as many gigs as you can when first starting out, as singing all day in your room is very different to one gig on a stage, with a PA in front of people! Own your craft, talk to the audience and number one thing, be true to you! Don’t try to do what someone else is doing, sure, be inspired and influenced, but be YOU! Don’t be envious of other people’s success, only see love in all they do and be inspired by what they do!
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in your journey?
There’s more than one hahaha, my first lesson taught to me by my mother and it was “never sign on the dotted couch” and let me tell you I could have, but I never did! Learn your craft backwards and inside out! I’m still learning everyday and I hope that never stops!
What was the main insecurity you had to overcome?
Oh boy, there was the wog thing, being Aussie Lebanese when I first started wasn’t as cool as it is now! Learning to talk to the crowd, was scary for me when I first started, I still get tongue tied, the other thing was making mistakes, I’d be so upset if I messed up, these days I mess up and I make it part of the gig, I’ve even stopped the band and made a point to let everyone know, "ummm, yeah that was terrible, let’s start again!"
What do you love to do when you’re not doing music?
I love watching comedy, (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) is the new fave, hanging out with my girl friends, cause we rarely get to do it, I dig running, but when I’m in the mood, so that varies hehe and I’m also a huge lover of making the best salads ever, even threatened to have my own salad bar, I’d tell you the name, but………………… oh and of course eating and giving chocolate, man I need to be sponsored by Lindt! I’m not a lover of shopping, unless it’s for groceries or at the newsagency!
What is the best decision you have ever made in your life?
Easy, MOVING TO LA.
Where can we hear your music or see you perform?
Well, I’m coming out to Oz for some album preview solo shows I have one in Melbourne at The Paris Cat on 5th June and then another one in Sydney on 12th June at Room 505! I’ve also recently found out I’m doing Starfish Club in July WOO HOO AND YAY AGAIN! The SongBirds join me in Mid June for shows in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle.
What was the best live concert you have ever seen? Why?
Recently, Tedeski Trucks at The Greek, just so friggin awesome, to hear the songs as they were meant to be, only greater! She’s such a force and so is he, what a band, what a team, not often get so moved at a concert! Also Jim Oblon, incredible singer songwriter, from Nashville, his gigs and album are out of this world! The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill, is another gig, that I’ve seen 3 times and truly, they move me to tears, they are so incredible! Stevie Wonder live is up there no reasons necessary and Prince live was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen! Songs, production, band, showmanship, funk, awesomeness, you just can’t beat his gigs!
What music are you listening to lately?
I love Alabama Shakes new album, oh man, a little obsessed! Blake Mills is another new obsession of my hubby’s and mine he’s amazing on his own, but he also produced the latest Alabama Shakes record! I also am a bit obsessed with Jarl Bernhoft, saw him live, AMAZING! Love his songs and writing
If you could fix three things in this world what would they be?
I have always had a dream that one day the world would sing together at the same time, imagine the peace that would come from that, of course it would take so much to get that to happen, but I believe we can all sing, some better than others, but it’s a natural thing, that we all should do, like eating! The world would be a much happier and mentally more stable place if everyone did a bit of singing everyday! I would love everyone to have compassion and everyone to help one another, strangers, relatives, friends everyone, for me it’s all about love, To quote one of my new songs “all we need is love and love is all” I wish for all the things most of us wish for, more peace, more equality, much much less judgment and for the most part I just wish people were cool with saying hello to a stranger, you never know what you’ll miss out on by ignoring someone, just cause they look a bit different to you, or just cause you don’t know them, so, as MJ sings, make that change!!!!!!
What are your best practice tips for singers?
Warming up scales whatever they are, do them with the usual Ba Ba Ba etc then repeat them with one Ba and keep the vowel open, all the way up the scale, so you are really working your muscle and helping with agility! Practice singing lower than you are comfortable with and higher (in your chest voice) than you are comfortable with, it’s a muscle it stretches and you just have to keep up the exercise! Try not to talk to much before or after the gig (such a hard one for me hahaha). Pineapple juice, better than all those teas and water! Sleep, is key to having the voice work in the way you like it to work everyday. Stress is the worst thing for the voice, it can make it go! I take B12 everyday to help combat that one, as it helps with the nerves and any stress.
What is your number one encouragement for someone who wants to follow their musical dream?
Do it, immerse yourself in it, follow your heart, get good people around you, who also believe in the cause and just go for it! But, always do it for the LOVE and nothing else! This industry is so tough, I’ve never been in it for the money, otherwise I’d have left a long time ago! So grateful to have this as my life career!
Everyone please check out this lovely clip of Danni and when she's in your area please try and see a show of hers!
For your singing news we have a few spots left for the next recording workshop in June - book here now! It's fantastic!
Also please check the STORE to grab your cds or DVDs of workshops and vocal exercises. Highly recommended. It's hoodies time again - for Aussies anyway! So do grab one of those too.
Lots of love and always remember,
You Have A Voice!
Love Simone xx