Smooth, powerful, imbued with passion.
Once heard, you’ll never forget the four octave range of Dee Daniels’ voice. No wonder she’s been called one of the best vocalists of this or any generation.
And for Daniels, it’s all about the emotion.
“I feel the same whatever style I’m singing,” she says. “Jazz, blues, gospel, they all offer something unique but they’re all connected. The feeling’s the same; it’s the stories that change.”
The Georgia Straight Jazz Society is pleased to present Dee Daniels at the Elk’s Hall in Courtenay on Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. This is a rare opportunity to hear the award-winning singer accompanying herself on piano.
“I usually only perform one solo gig a year,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to sing and play music I don’t ordinarily do and to be completely spontaneous. It’s all moment to moment creativity.”
Tickets, at $12 for GSJS members and $16 for non-members, are available at Bop City Records in Courtenay, Comox Videos N More and the GSJS Thursday Jazz Club at the Elks Hall.
Daniels, who grew up in Oakland, Calif., started playing piano for a Sunday school at age nine. Two years later, she was playing for three church choirs; by the time she was 12, she was earning $5 a week.
She loved music but never thought of it as a career. In fact, her first “real” job was teaching art in a Seattle high school.
Then she ran into a musician she knew from the University of Montana. He invited her to sing back-up vocals on a recording his band was working on. Daniels ended up co-writing some of the songs and singing lead.
Initially, she turned down the band’s offer to join them. But they were persistent, and the next thing Daniels knew, she was teaching during the day and performing onstage six nights a week.
“The school was very supportive,” she says, “but after six months, I knew I couldn’t keep it up — and that my true calling was music.”
Since then, Daniels has wowed international audiences with her musicianship and voice, received numerous awards, performed with a variety of jazz legends and recorded her own CDs.
Out of her many career highlights, Daniels says some that are particularly close to her heart include receiving the University of Montana’s Distinguished Alumni Award, singing at the 25th wedding anniversary of the King and Queen of Belgium, receiving an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Fine Arts from Capilano University and working with New York choreographer Twyla Tharp in her musical Come Fly Away.
As well as giving of herself musically, Daniels also supports emerging musicians through workshops and as a vocal clinician, adjudicator and mentor. In 2001, she established the Dee Daniels Vocal Scholarship at Capilano University.
For those interested in pursuing a career in the music industry, she advises, “Get an education in whatever discipline you want to pursue, then listen, listen and listen some more. Find good teachers and find a mentor. These days, making it requires much more than just playing an instrument or singing. Now you have to market yourself and look after the business side of things as well.”
A Vancouver resident since 1987, Daniels became became bi-coastal this September.
“I have two homes now,” she says. “One with my husband in Vancouver and the other in New York.”
“Moving to New York is a dream come true,” she explains. “There is so much going on musically in that city. I’m meeting so many people and there are so many possibilities to take my music to the next level.
“And besides,’” she adds with a laugh, “there are some things that can only be done in New York.”
If you love the blues, gospel and jazz or just hearing an incredible voice, this is one concert you don’t want to miss. I know, because Daniels sounds just as terrific on the phone as the sample music clips on her website.