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Danni Nicholls

Danni Nicholls

Genre: Americana / Singer/Songwriter / Country-Soul

Location: Bedford, Bedfordshire

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About Danni Nicholls

With the wind in her sails from receiving two consecutive Americana Music Association UK award nominations (2017 UK Album of the Year for Mockingbird Lane and 2018 UK Artist of the Year), singer/songwriter Danni Nicholls has embarked upon her next artistic journey — making her third studio album with a new producer at the helm. And, once again, Nashville, Tennessee, will play host to her musical undertaking, as the city has long held a special place in Danni's heart.

“I’d had this burning desire to get to Nashville, to soak up the energy and see where my heroes made their music,” she says. “In 2010, I did a month-long road trip in the States, went to Tupelo to Elvis’s house, to Sun Studios in Memphis — the whole musical pilgrimage thing. But I’ll never forget the time we first stepped onto Broadway in Nashville. I couldn’t believe I was actually on the famous honky-tonk street where the likes of Johnny and Patsy had walked.”

From the honky-tonks of Broadway to the woods of Whites Creek, Nashville has become something of an adopted hometown for Danni, with the creative community warmly welcoming her presence. “My time in Music City making my first two albums with these great, great musicians was a hugely inspirational and surreal experience,” she says. “It forced me to raise my game and push my boundaries. I’ve come away with two albums which I’m immensely proud of.”

Supporting those releases over the past few years, Danni has played shows with Shakin’ Stevens, Lucinda Williams, Sturgill Simpson, the Secret Sisters, Jolie Holland, and others; released a live album in association with Vintage TV; and performed at festivals around the world, including Cambridge Folk, Tønder, and AmericanaFest. Now, after gathering up a batch of new songs, she is launching her fourth PledgeMusic campaign and heading back into the studio.

The word that recurs most often in reviews of Danni’s songs and performances is “elegance.” She’s too modest to agree, but it’s a style she has lovingly honed across what is truly an entire lifetime in music, and one with all sorts of interesting cultural twists and artistic turns.

The small town of Bedford, UK, served as the backdrop to Danni's childhood, scored by her grandmother’s collection of American folk, country, and rock 'n' roll records. “The Anglo-Indian side of my family — my mum’s side — are party animals,” she laughs. “We had constant house parties at my grandparents’ place, parties in halls, or with family in London. There would just always be great American roots music blasting out, jive dancing, and singing. Music from rock ‘n’ roll to country and western to soul. My grandmother loves country music. It would always be playing in the house, and she would often talk about the Grand Ole Opry, so it was just in my psyche from a really young age.”

Then, at 16, Danni inherited her Uncle Heathcliff’s 1963 Burns London short-scale jazz guitar which was rumoured to have once belonged to Billy Fury. Danni's connection with the guitar was inspirational and instantaneous, and having played saxophone since age 9, she had a musical foundation upon which to build her songwriting skills. As soon as she knew two chords, she was writing her own songs and, before long, performing at school assemblies and selling homemade albums of her songs.

Eventually, she recorded and released two EPs, Heavy Shoes and Time, before meeting bassist/producer Chris Donohue in London in 2011. “I went to see one of my heroes, Emmylou Harris, at the Royal Festival Hall with a friend who knew her bass player, Chris,” she says. “We got chatting for a while, and I mentioned I was heading to Nashville in a few weeks. He gave me his card and said to let him know when I got to town. Five minutes later, he was up on stage with Emmylou. Obviously, I got in touch and the rest is history.” With some of Nashville’s finest musicians in tow, the pair have now made two critically acclaimed albums — 2013's A Little Redemption and 2015's Mockingbird Lane.

The new album anchors itself in the idea that loving ourselves is just as crucial as loving others. To join her in this musical exploration, Danni chose producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin, who has worked with Indigo Girls and Lucy Wainwright Roche, among others. Hamlin played various instruments on A Little Redemption, and the two have been friends ever since.

"I've had a feeling in my gut about working with Jordan for a while now and, once I visited her new studio, MOXE, I knew I had to make it happen,” Danni says. “She is a uniquely talented human, and I think working with her, in this space, will be a magical experience."

Love and guts, moxie and magic... that's the stuff dreams are made of, and Danni Nicholls' dreams are coming true.

"Sumptuous" - UNCUT

“Smoky soul, folk-pop and heart-wrenching alt-country, all in a rich voice” - Q Magazine, 4/5 stars

“One in a million…” David Knowles, Maverick Music Magazine 5/5 stars

“Just Terrific” - Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2



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