There is an undeniable division in Danielle Peck's voice. A bluesy pull, a reluctant smokiness that, when it breaks, yields soaring, ringing, soul-stirring power and clarity. That tantalizing slow-pour tension is a fitting reflection of the artist herself. Is she an exuberant young country singer or an experienced and purposed entertainer? Is she the self-described "plain Jane girl next door" or a statuesque brunette bombshell? Is she a former waitress fighting for her big break or a prolific songwriter who contributed eight of 11 songs to her upcoming album? Danielle Peck is all that and much more.
That self-titled debut release, preceded by the chart-rocketing first single "I Don't," reveals all the complexities associated with being a young woman making her way in a new millennium. As a songwriter, she's grounded enough to write a glowing affirmation like "Isn't That Everything" and honest enough to acknowledge the emotional despair of a breakup in "Fallin' Apart." As a vocalist, she offers shades of her influences, sounding by turns as rooted in country as Reba McEntire or as slyly sexy as Shania Twain and Faith Hill. The sum of those seemingly divergent parts is, ultimately, a message, sound and style unique to Danielle Peck.
Born in Jacksonville, N.C., the daughter of a U.S. Marine, Danielle grew up in Coshocton, Ohio, where the family had strong musical roots. Her mother's side of the family traveled and sang in churches. Her father's parents and grandparents were steeped in country music, playing dances in the area. Danielle could sing before she could talk, and by the time she was 3 she would sit on a counter banging on pots and pans as her extended family played country music. The first song she learned to sing was Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," a song that has been part of her live show to this day.
She wrote her first song before she was 10 and made cassette labels for her imaginary Danielle Peck records, complete with song titles and cover art. She sang in church both as a soloist and in the choir. At age 16, she joined a local band, the Neon Moon Band, and played bars in her native Coshocton, Ohio, area.
"I wasn't supposed to be in there [bars] because I was underage," she says, "so I had to dress older, act older, sneak in through the back door, do my show, and then slip out the back again before anyone could figure out I was underage! I never thought twice about it because singing was all I'd ever thought about doing from the time I was a little girl. I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to...and of course my dad was always close by just in case."
"I was the girl singer," she says. "I would sing Reba and Trisha and a lot of Patsy Cline. We played weekends and hit the local summer fairs. While my friends were into sports, I was consumed with music." When she was 18 her dad bought her a sound and light system that the family jokingly referred to as her "college tuition." When she graduated from high school, she hit the road, leading her own band and adding regional fairs and festivals to the schedule.
After several years on the bar and festival circuit Danielle made the decision to chase the dream and make the jump to Nashville. She quickly took a Nashville job waiting tables and spent the rest of her time working on her songwriting.
"I'd wake up at 8 in the morning, go and write songs until 2 in the afternoon, change clothes, work the restaurant until 2 or 3 in the morning, get up early the next morning and do it again," she says. "I became a Starbucks addict, but I was having the time of my life! I was in Nashville, meeting people, starting to write with some great writersI was loving every minute of it."
Soon after her Nashville arrival she met publisher Clay Myers, who recognized her talent and helped secure a songwriting deal with Barbara Orbison's Still Working Music. Danielle soon began writing with staff writers Clay Mills and Tommy Lee James, as well as other established hit writers like Blair Daly and Taylor Rhodes. Those writing sessions would ultimately form the basis for her debut album.
That release had to wait, however. Signed to a recording contract with DreamWorks Records by executive Scott Borchetta, Danielle's album was a casualty of that company's merger with Universal. Borchetta, however, wouldn't let his belief in her music die, and when he later left Universal to form his own Big Machine Records, Danielle was one of his first signings.
The single release "I Don't" finally introduced country audiences to Danielle, and the response has already been overwhelming. Already a hit and still climbing, the song also draws huge response at her live shows opening for, among others, Toby Keith. Fans are drawn to the emotional honesty of an artist who so readily reveals all facets of her personality.
Beyond the single, Danielle explores the difficulties of love on "Fallin' Apart," "Sucks to Be You" and "Only the Lonely Talkin'." She smolders with slow burn passion on "Kiss You on the Mouth" and "Thirsty Again." And the fun side peaks through on "Findin' a Good Man" and "Honky-Tonk Time." In every case, the emotions ring true.
"Everything comes down to being real," she says. "Every song I do reflects something I've been through or something I've felt. My songs are my journals. Whatever I feel at the moment, whatever emotion I'm going through, is what I write about. When it's time to sing those songs, whether it's on stage or in the studio, those feelings are right there."
And so the many facets of Danielle Pecka modern country girl, vulnerable and confidentshine through in a way that's already capturing the ears and hearts of country fans nationwide.