With her long
blond hair cascading from her cowboy hat, Danni Leigh summons the intensity of Buck Owens
and Dwight Yokum, while delevering the goods as only a self professed "country
Leigh was born and raised in Strasburgh, VA. not far from the stomping grounds of country music legend Patsy Cline. "Patsy was from Winchester, VA, which is 15 minuetes away, so we would celebrate Patsy Cline Day." she says. "I sang at a Patsy Cline celebration; it was like a national holiday up there."
"As I grew up and started developing my own character, the strange thing was that a lot of the men and women who knew Patsy from up home compared me to her. Not vocally, because there's only one one Patsy Cline, but because of my personality. I pretty much speak my mind. She was like that. I kept hearing all about Patsy all around me and the more I learned about her... She was rebellious, a little rebel woman. Growing up I was too. When I was a child, I gave 'em hell. I mean, my mom and dad thought they had it made with my older sister. She grew up easily and never did anything wrong. Then I came along."
Danni started singing in church at age 3, belting out solos in the preschool choir. One Sunday after the services, she fervently told her mother she wanted to be a singer. To capture the moment, her mother snapped a black and white photo of her that day, a photo her mother still keeps.
And the young singer's passion has never dwindled.
"I can't say it was there when I was born, but it almost feels like that. Everything I did in my life even when I was a kid, I went, "Wow, how's that gonna look when I get famous?' she says.. "Stuff like that was always in my head."
At 19, she moved to Orlando. She had intended to audition as a singer at Walt Disney World, but soon realized "that wasn't my thing." She and her Great Dane Dexter struggled to survive in the Sunshine State. "The only I had to eat was tuna and crackers," she laughs. "He required more cans of tuna than I did."
To pay the
bills she worked for Fed-X, restocked a lock warehouse and as a bungee jump
instructor on the tallest (310 feet) legal jump in the U.S. She also waitressed and
sang in several area reseraunts and bars whiched scored her a job with the band APB, the
Fenwicks and a standing invitation to sing back up with the rock band Foreigner,
"Which I did just for fun," says Leigh.
I really think I tried to find other things to do. There was nothing else. It is in my blood. If you love music and it starts at a young age, if it gets in your system, it's hard to get out. And normally it doesn't come out, so you end up starving yourself for a long time until it does happen."
'With some hard-won life experiences behind her, she headed to Nashville, in 1994. More odd jobs followed, including work as an animal caretaker for Tom T. Hall. The opportunity that opened the door; however, came at the fabled Bluebird Cafe, a haven for songwritters in Music City, where Leigh worked as a waitress.
Michael Knox, vice president of creative services at Warner Chapell Publishing, was a frequent patron. "we started harassing each other immediatley. But I never asked what he did and he never asked me."
"After months of picking at each other, we ended up talking. He asked me, 'Are you here to do the music thing like everybody else?' and I said, 'Yeah I am.'" He later signed her to Warner Chapell Publishing. Together, they developed her talent and Michael produced the demos of her songs. Though she garnered interests in other labels, Decca Records' Mark Wright heard the gutsy, brash quality in her voice and the passion in the songs she writes that make herstand out. In turn, Knox and Wright co-produced her album, "29 Nights."
"I am really proud of the album we did, because we went in with one thing in mind and that was to make a good country album, the country I grew up on," Leigh explains. "It's not like I want it to sound 'vintage,' if that's what they call it. But the term 'too country' never, even crosses my mind."
Though Leigh herself is an enthusiastic performer, she believes she missed the glory days of country music on stage. "There are so many people I wish I had seen," she notes. "Ican't go to a Merel Haggard show and not cry. Or George Jones. For me to go to the Opry right now, it almost hurts, because I sit there and think, 'If we don't watch it, we're going to lose this.'"
her family and friends in Strasburg, Va., as well as fans across the nation,
are nostalgic for traditional country music.
"When I go home, we don't have bars there; we have 'Fraternal Order Of'. You know Fraternal Order to Eagles, the Moose, the Elkes. There isn't any live music, except on weekend nights when they have a band come in and nine and three-quarters of the time out the ten, it's a country band playing really old covers. People dance their tails off all night long! I think I've made an album of what they want to hear, so I'm proud of that."
success didn't come easily or quickly, Danni Leigh believes that now is a great time
to start her career in country music.
"If I had moved to Nashville at 19, I wouldn't have been ready. I wouldn't have had my bac kground. Your experiences through life helps your charecter and who you are," she says. "I]m glad it's happening now and not anytime sooner. But not anytime later! I'm ready now. I'm ready to go!" And whether it is driving her vintage 1968 Camero convertable, her motorcycle or on yje concert stage sharing her music, go she will...at full tilt!
Bio is courtesy of the Danni Leigh Fan Club.
Please e-mail me with any inputs, pictures,
Danni Leigh Fan Club---CLOSED
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