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Decca Recording Artist to perform on Kadena AB

Date Posted: 1999-03-20

Banyan Tree Club - DoD Overseas Shows invites all ranks and services to a free country music concert at the Banyan Tree Club on Friday, April 16, at 9 p.m. Enjoy toe tappin', boot stompin' fun as Decca recording artist Danni Leigh & band perform hits from their 29 Nights Tour. Danni Leigh and band will perform such songs as: If The Jukebox Took Teardrops; Beatin' My Head Against the Wall; 29 Nights; How Does it Feel to You; Teardrops, Teardrops; Ol' Lonesome; Mixed Up Mess of a Heart; Touch Me; I Feel a Heartache Coming On; Chain Me; and Weren't You the One. You've seen her videos on CMT. Now come see her in concert at the Banyan Tree Club ballroom. Visit her website at www.dannileigh.com

What: DoD Overseas Shows Presents: Decca Recording Artist, country singer, Danni Leigh, 29 Nights Tour

When: April 16, 9 p.m. at Banyan Tree Club Ballroom, Kadena Air Base and April 15, 8 p.m. at Crow's Nest Club, Camp Shields

Who: Show is FREE and open to all ranks and services. Contact Banyan Tree Club at 634-0644 or Barbara Garrison, USN, at 634-6924 for additional information or interviews.

With her long blond hair cascading from her cowboy hat, Danni Leigh summons the intensity of Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakum, while delivering the goods as only a self professed "country girl" can. Leigh was born and raised in Strasburg, VA, not far from the stomping grounds of country music legend Patsy Cline. "Patsy was from Winchester, VA, which is 15 minutes 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 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 the age of 3, belting out solos in the preschool choir. One Sunday after the service, 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 thing I had to eat was tuna and crackers," she laughs. "He required more cans of tuna than I did."

To pay bills she worked for FedEx, 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 restaurants and bars which 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's 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 songwriters 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 immediately. 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 interest 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 her stand out. In turn, Knox and Wright co-produced her album, 29 Nights.

I'm 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, ever 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. "I can't go to a Merle 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.'"

She believes her family and friends in Strasburg, VA, as well as fans across the nation, are nostalgic for traditional country music as well.

"When I go home, we don't have bars there; we have 'Fraternal Order Of'. You know Fraternal Order of the Eagles, the Moose, the Elks. 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 of 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."

Although 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 background. Your experiences through life help create your character 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 Camaro convertible, her motorcycle, or on the concert stage sharing her music, go she will...at full tilt!

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