|Danni Leigh is an artist who knows of what she sings. Like many musical stylists before her, Leigh`s voice conveys the kind of pain and joy that can only come from real life experience. She has put her heart on the line and has had it broken. She has taken chances and risked it all. And she knows all too well the elation of seeing her musical dream come true and the searing pain of seeing it turn to ruin. Leigh's journey to realizing her musical dream was never easy but helped mold her into a uniquely mesmerizing artist.
The beautiful singer enjoyed an idyllic childhood growing up in a small town fittingly close to the hometown of her idol Patsy Cline. Surrounded by a close-knit family, Leigh was a dutiful yet rebellious daughter- riding horses, riding motorcycles and rebelling against her daddy almost as much as she loved him. She performed her first solo in church at age three immediately deciding she would sing forever. Though parts of her story resonate like a great country song, it is all just a slice from the life of Monument Records singer Danni Leigh. So it's no surprise that when it comes to country music, few people are more discriminating- about integrity, about intensity-that she is. " I`m not bashful and I can't lie," says Leigh with trademark candor. "When I,m writing, it comes from my soul and I spill my guts. If I didn't write the song, it's got to be something I,ve felt- songs I don't 'get'just don't work. Whatever the emotion, it's going to come out tenfold," the outspoken blond exclaims.
|Ten times the emotion .. 11 songs on Leigh`s Monument debut A Shot Of Whiskey & A Prayer... you do the math. Better yet, you do the listening. Take a listen to the take-no-prisoners tunes like her first single "Honey I Do", a part-growl and part-purr honey-bourbon cocktail. To the chugga-chugga drive that keeps a broken heart alive on "Chain Gang". To the boogie-driven "Little Things" with its raw guitar and teasing phrasing. Listen as well to the other side of Danni Leigh- the natural sweetness and pure longing conveyed on the eloquent, understated "Back In Your Arms Again", the honesty aching "Trying To Get Over You", the cried-out pride of downbeat but uplifting "What'cha Gonna Do".
Born in a the small Appalachian town of Strasburg , "Virginia , she was reared on Buck Owns, Kitty Wells, and of course, Patsy Cline, who came from the nearby "big city" of Winchester. When Leigh was in her teens she took her first job at a record store exposing her to every form of music under the sun. I found British music, world music, ska, rock, blues," She recalls, laughing about a punk phase haircut that really made her father blow a fuse.
At 19, she followed her music to Orlando, Florida, fronting any halfway decent country band that would have her, but also singing with rock legends Foreigner and touring the nation with APB/The Fenwicks, a group founded by the original Lynard Skynard drummer, Artemis Pyle. She soaked all she could, then headed for Nashville, taking a waitress job at the legendary Bluebird Cafe.
|In her characteristic rebellious style, Leigh went against the grain when it came to making in-roads into establishing herself as a recording artist. Instead of networking with the musical powers-to-be right away, Leigh took the time to learn the ropes of the business and the power structure of the industry-abeit exhibiting a dash of her unique nerve to her surroundings. I was like Flo at Mel,s diner- I was just hateful, like,
"you really want a drink right now`?" Leigh says with a laugh before getting serious. "Everyone goes to the Bluebird-artists, songwriters, people who head up record and publishing companies, the people who`d been to hell and back in the at town. I really kept my ears open and just shut up and listened." Then one (Bluebird regular by the name of Michael Knox with Warner Chappell Publishing challenged her to show him her songs. The sort of woman who can't turn down a dare especially a career-tuning one- Leigh unveiled some of her work and soon found herself a publishing deal. Though Leigh`s talent for song craft paid off she co-wrote "I Want To Feel That Way Again" a top five single for Tracy Byrd, that stuck to the charts for some 278 weeks, she viewed this phase as yet another learning experience. "Song-writing is a very important form of expression for me, no doubt about it," she explains. 'But what drives me, what burns in my soul, is live entertainment."She continued honing her sound and her style, ultimately perfecting a demo that met with her satisfaction-and led to her signing with Decca Records in 1998.|
After many years of watching and (earning, tears and prayers, and good old- fashioned talent and hard work, it appeared that the singer had finally realized her dream. But Danni's joy was short- lived when a corporate merger forced Decca to fold. Needless to say, the label closing came as a crushing disappointment for the singer who had only released one single from her long dreamed of album. "We cut the album "29 Nights" and we got one song out- and then the damn thing closed!" Leigh says, referring to the infamous 'Universal Records merger that folded labels like a house of cards. I,m not a weak person," she continues, ,,but I tell you I was desiring a beverage that day! When everything you always wanted in life is yanked out from underneath you, it's pretty scary," But Leigh wouldn`t stay down for long. Shaking off her setback, Leigh was welcomed to the Monument Records roster. Richard Bennett and Emory Gordy, Jr. - the production team behind Steve Earle's much-heralded Guitar Town disc- came aboard to co-produce "A Shot of whiskey & A Prayer". "Those two men have made some of the best records ever," 'Leigh says. I feel like I have lucky charms hanging all over me." While it took time for Leigh to select songs (three of which she co-wrote), the recording process was lickety-split. "The whole thing was done on what I call 'spot-a-newity," she says.
"When we're in there, be sure to press that record button because we're going to get these songs right the first time. Get them they did. Now that it's done, Danni Leigh is raring to get her act on the road. " I was born this way and I walk on stage the way I was born," she shrugs about her high-energy, edgy presence. "I've always had the ability to move, was always the first one on the dance floor in high school, always the jockette- and also the hell -raiser, too." Danni Leigh is equal parts, fearless entertainer, sexy chanteuse and rebellious non-conformist. She is an artist who infuses her music with all the passion and conviction of someone who can give no less than her all. And that unique artistry is in full force on
"A Skot of Wiskey & A Prayer", a refreshing sound from a singer with a talent as big as her musical dream.