Written by: Frank Iacono
London-based singer, songwriter and musician Danielle Morgan is making a big impact in the UK and internationally, sharing her music, performed with great passion and attitude. Those who have seen her “live” write and talk about how they are uplifted by Danielle’s universal themes and original melodies, delivered with real power and honest emotion, supported by her amazing band.
Danielle began her musical journey at a young age, and it was her path to enter the world-famous BRIT School in London. She has composed over 70 original songs and works with co-writer John Merrigan, and has also worked with highly credited Los Angeles, California Producer, Jonathan Smith [a.k.a. TheRealJonSmith] – (Luna Halo, four-time Grammy Award winner Kevin Max, etc.) among others.
Danielle’s compositions are diverse in topic and eclectic in mood. She writes about her life experiences that everyone can relate to and interpret for themselves. Her vocals are compelling, uniquely her own.
Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, Danielle released her debut EP, The Session in June 2016 to critical acclaim. 2019 saw Morgan inking a global distribution deal with Universal Music Group to build on her strong fanbase and social media profile. In 2020, she is very excited to be performing new songs to audiences around the UK, Ireland and beyond. July saw the release of her new EP entitled The Faces of Danielle Morgan and further EPs / album release are planned in the coming months before getting back on the road.
In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Danielle Morgan where we talked about her musical influences, her songwriting and recording process, her experience in the music industry and how COVID-19 has affected her musical career.
The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?>
DM: As a young girl, I always loved performing at family events but early on I got into Johnny Nash, an America reggae star who sang: “Tears on My Pillow” which combined reggae and country and I loved it. I “stole” the tape from my parents and played it over and over, and absorbed the melody, emotion, and sincerity of those songs. I then got into Motown and whilst my friends were listening to more contemporary music in the 1980s, I was listening to that, hidden away in my bedroom.
TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and describe for us how they impacted and/or shaped your musical style?
DM: When I was 16 at music / drama college in London, I was heavily influenced by musical theatre – strong songs with a message and a big sound. I liked Crystal Gayle, Neil Sedaka, Billy Joel and all the Motown stars; especially how they crafted their songs and got the message across simply and directly. At 18, I was approached by a major record label to take on my songs, but I didn’t like how they wanted to change them or how they said I’d have a pop lifespan as an artist of 12-18 months! No thanks!
TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Danielle Morgan or your musical career, please share with us how you first started out in United Kingdom and eventually became a singer, songwriter, and musician?
DM: My early path took me to the BRIT School in London and that set me off writing songs. But after a few years, I realized that I had no real-life experience. From then on, a lot of things happened to me, some good and some bad. I turned to my song writing on the piano to help find my expression, only for myself, and to relieve those stresses. After a long break from the business, I found myself auditioning for a band led by John Merrigan and I began to love performing again. That led to me having the confidence to share some of my personal songs and the reaction was so positive and loving that I decided to once more embark on a professional music career. Since then, I’ve worked with amazing people and recorded at places like Abbey Road; and the journey continues.
TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs from your EP The Session is the track called “No Trace of You,” so could you describe the history behind the song as well as the music video concept?
DM: Normally, I don’t interpret my songs, only because everyone will take the meaning for themselves. “No Trace of You” is not about a personal relationship, it’s about moving from one chapter of your life into a new one and leaving the past behind.
We contacted a number of people involved in shooting videos and only one that came back who understood the meaning was director Nick Kirk. We shot the video over a weekend, with the track freshly recorded at Abbey Road, produced by LA based therealjonsmith. It was an amazing experience and the storyline shows me leaving the life of a hotel maid (though my old life was actually a London police officer), waving goodbye as I enter the world of a music singer! It turned out to be pretty prophetic!
TCS: Can you tell us about your new EP and introduce us to the band line-up?
DM: In July 2020, I will be releasing a new EP entitled The Faces of Danielle Morgan and I am really looking forward to sharing those songs with my fans and your readers! This is the first in a series of EPs we plan to release in 2020 to get more of the new tracks out and we hope this will lead to an album by the end of the year. There is so much new material ready to go!
The band consists of:
- Danielle Morgan – Lead Vocals / Piano
- John Merrigan – Drums
- David Barbour – Guitarist
- Peter Rutherford – Bassist
- Andrew Dascalopoulos – Keys
- Lucy D. – Backing Vocals
- Rob McCann – Harmonica
TCS: What financial impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on both personally and professionally? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances?
DM: We have to see the financial impact in the context of so many others losing dear friends and relatives – our health is before our wealth more than ever. But, yes, we had to cancel so many shows and summer festivals which we had spent a long time securing – it was extremely hard on the band, the artists and ourselves. Luckily, we’ve been able to work with promoters and others to minimize the impact and we are looking forward to getting back on the road.
TCS: Amid this pandemic, what’s your daily routine been like? And since musicians spend so much time on the road, have you found it hard adjusting to so much time at home?
DM: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were rarely at home, either gigging, rehearsing or doing promotional activity. We are blessed to be living in a beautiful part of the world, on the coast and close to the countryside. It’s made us appreciate so much more what we have on our doorstep. Our daily routine takes us to the beach or on walks in the local area and we are much calmer.
TCS: Is there something you’ve been putting off for a long time, but are now doing with this time at home?
DM: We have been too busy to work on releasing some new tracks and finishing others that we’d started. The time we have now has meant we’ve been able to finish arrangements on some great new songs and to work on our musical theatre shows.
TCS: Tell us about the background behind another favorite entitled “Take Him Away” and the special Lockdown Edition music video”?
DM: This is one of our favorite songs to perform live and always gets the crowd going with its energy and positive vibe – the lyrics speak for themselves! We wrote it with Dave Barbour who brought the guitar sound to what was originally a piano-based track! John and I were putting out videos in the early part of lockdown, and after many requests we decided to record the song with the full band working from home to hopefully bring a smile to our friends. We really enjoyed doing it, though it’s complicated to record and mix it live on video. But it’s honest music and because of the response we will roll-out more lockdown videos in the coming weeks.
TCS: Have you been doing any live-streamed concerts during COVID-19 or do you plan to? A lot of artists have been doing them, do you think it’s a challenge to make them original and interesting?
DM: Yes, we have done quite a few live tracks online and some videos with the band working together from home. It’s been a lot of fun and much needed therapy to stay in contact and keep playing together.
TCS: As a musician, have you found this quarantine to be a highly creative time period for writing and recording new music or has it been difficult to focus on creative endeavors?
DM: Initially, it was a difficult time as we were trying to absorb what happened and to guess what was going to happen. But fairly quickly, we took a decision to be positive and focus on what we could do from home. We have written a lot of new songs and begun work on a new musical drama. So overall, it’s been a very productive time creatively.
TCS: If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you see yourself doing instead?
DM: John and I would always have a connection with music – it’s in our blood but if we left the industry, we would probably be running our own small hotel focused on great food and a space for musicians to come and work in a rural setting and be inspired to create. I think we will do this anyway!!!
TCS: What kind of advice would you give to other musicians who are trying new creative ways to supplement their income?
DM: We think it’s important to stay focused on practical things to stay safe and well in mind and body. To get replacement income, there are lots of ways to set up virtual gigs, or crowdfunding. There are interesting things happening in theatres and gig venues, so it’s important to stay in contact with them. Above all, it’s really important not to devalue your work just for short-term gain. Your work is art and personal and don’t let anyone take advantage even though things are challenging.
About Frank Iacono
Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.
Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.