Dee Daniels - Jazz Singer
UPDATE, February 2021 The other day I got a surprise e-mail from Dee Daniels with her latest news. Talk about an inspiring woman! I'm just blown away with her latest project "Let Freedom Ring" which should be viewed and listened to around the world. (See below.)
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to pervade all continents around the globe, and health restrictions, to help stave off spread of this infectious disease, prevent musicians from performing live to audiences in theatres. Meanwhile, artists like Dee Daniels continue to write, create and sing music, and release their performances through internet.
I hope you enjoy these interviews with this most amazing woman, composer, singer, and humanbeing. Read about her life as a jazz singer and her miraculous healing journey through breast cancer, and check out the latest video below of her powerful and passionate performance of her new song "Let Freedom Ring (The Ballad of John Lewis)."
Let Freedom Ring - New song and video, February 2021
A Healing Journey - Interview article March 2020
Healed - Video
Autumn Leaves - Video
A New Song - Interview article December 2010
Soul Singer - Interview article 2006
Links - to Dee's website, recordings, bio and more
Let Freedom Ring - New song and video
Let Freedom Ring (The Ballad of John Lewis)
A new song and video by international jazz singer Dee Daniels, February 2021
To celebrate Black History Month, Dee Daniels releases her new single (on February 19, 2021) "Let Freedom Ring (The Ballad of John Lewis)" and the video which can NOW be viewed on YouTube and here below. The song was inspired by the last essay written by the late US House Representative and Civil Rights Leader, John Lewis, just before his passing on July 17, 2020. Dee's passionate voice and music reflect John Lewis' powerful words - LET FREEDOM RING. More information about the song can be seen on YouTube, where you can also see the list of musicians, and more.
A Healing Journey
Music from and for the Soul – coming full circle in life
An interview article with international jazz singer Dee Daniels
by Rosemary Phillips, March 2020
UPDATE March, 2020: It was March 22, 2020, as we released this most recent interview article with Dee Daniels. The coronavirus (Covid-19) was spreading around the world, and as a preventive measure, we were in isolation. Concerts and events were cancelled, and life truly changed. This interview is more timely than ever, as it carries a message of hope for the future.
INTRO: It’s been a while since I last talked with Dee. There had been casual calls, just brief, with updates, but not the time for a full interview. So, on February 27 we connected - Dee sitting in her cozy home overlooking Indian Arm in British Columbia, and me in the kitchen, up on Baker Ridge, typing away on my laptop as Dee spoke.
Ten years have past since the last real interview, with Dee moving to New York City, living in a brownstone and travelling the world, teaching and performing. But before I get carried away, it’s time to let Dee speak and tell us about her profound, life altering experiences, in her own words, particularly about her healing journey through cancer and the creation of her latest CD ‘The Promise’. (This CD is a ‘must listen to,’ as Dee pours out her heart through her gift of music.
(Note: Italics in the article are from the author.)
A matter of faith - It all started in October 2014, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Upon receiving the diagnosis, I wasn’t fearful because I knew I would be embarking on a journey in answer to a prayer.
The prayer - I was living in New York City, by myself, while my husband Doug maintained our home in British Columbia (Canada). When you are on your own, you have lots of time to be introspective, and retrospective. The most frequent questions that would come to my mind were, ‘Where am I in my life? Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?’ I was sitting there in a fantastic brownstone, travelling to countries I hadn’t been to, performing in the top clubs in New York, teaching at Queens College, and recorded two CDs.
I was thinking, ‘You have a wonderful presence in the music scene of New York City. Through anybody else’s eyes you are successful. You are blessed.’ But, in my heart, in my spirit, there was a big hole. I was not feeling passionate and inspired. I kept asking myself, ‘Is this it? Is this all there is?’ That’s when I began to pray. The more I prayed, the more fervent my prayers became. I asked for God’s will in my life, from that moment on. I no longer cared about the what, when, why, where, who, or how my prayers would be answered. I knew the answer would lead me to fulfilment. The cancer diagnosis came shortly afterwards.
(Be careful what you ask for – you might just get it - but not necessarily how we imagine or wish.)
The healing journey - I prepared myself physically, mentally and emotionally as best I could. I changed my diet to organic foods, and no sugars or red meat. I added meditation to each day in preparation for the upcoming journey. I went through a nine-hour surgery, and a few weeks afterwards, began chemotherapy. It was through the daily meditations that I was gifted with countless new songs. They came so quickly during the meditation sessions that I had to record them on my cellphone. Through their messages I began to understand my connection to God, and to God’s will in my life.
Still, I was really questioning my faith. Then, from the second week after surgery, the word ‘healed’ popped into my mind. It was intuition. I heard it through the whole chemo process. It sounded like a small quiet and calm voice just behind my right ear. As time went on, the sound of the voice slowly moved around to the front of my face. Somehow, I felt I was going to come through this, and that I was indeed already healed. I thought ‘How can this be?’ I knew I had faith, but I questioned, ‘Dee, do you have enough faith to walk up onto a bridge, climb onto the railing and jump, without a bungee cord?’
An amazing happening – It was two days before I was to go for the CT mapping scan for radiation. I was on the phone with a friend of mine, a very intuitive friend (we did many healing meditations in person and on the phone). I was sitting in my livingroom, talking to her about my faith. I knew I had faith, but maybe it wasn’t strong enough to take that plunge off the bridge. The next words that came out of my mouth were ‘Yes - all I have to do is accept my faith.’
As I said these words out loud, my friend was saying, ‘Oh my God Dee, the words coming out of your mouth are the words of your Spirit Guide. I can hear her saying the same words right now.’
My friend has the gift of being able to communicate with the realm of Spirit. In other words, my Spirit Guide and I were saying those same words simultaneously.
What happened next took just a few seconds in real time, but trying to describe it takes much longer.
The experience - It was the middle of the afternoon and I had my eyes closed. In my mind’s eye I could see myself in my light body, like I’ve seen many times in my meditations. I was in a small room with a high ceiling that I could not see. Four feet away, to my left, was a concrete wall, smoothed out, painted medium gray. In front of me, about ten feet away, was a wall of dense, pale-yellow living-light filled with trillions of tiny sparklers. That sparkling light curved around to the right and passed beside me, about one inch from my shoulder.
All of a sudden, my light body slid to the right and into the light. I became aware of a very warm and loving feeling. Then I saw my light body dissipate into this light. As my light body disappeared, the feeling of love became so intense that it brought tears to my eyes. There are absolutely no words to describe that feeling as I realized my light body, and the light I was standing in, are one and the same. My light body had completely dissipated, but I was very conscious that I was still there, mentally. Meanwhile, my friend was still on the phone. She couldn’t see what I was seeing but she was experiencing that wonderfully intense feeling of love.
I opened my eyes and told her that if THAT is not healing, I don’t know what healing is, and that I was going to call off the radiation. My friend advised me to pray and meditate on it overnight. But I already knew. The next morning, I called the radiologist and cancelled my upcoming treatments. Either I was going to accept being healed - or not. I accepted! That was five years ago. To this day I can go back to that moment in my mind, any time I desire. I have never had doubt in the power of the Almighty (Creator, Source, God, Spirit) since my miraculous healing.
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New songs – throughout the entire cancer treatment process, I continued to have many unique experiences in song-writing and journaling. These new songs have taken me full circle, back to my roots in Gospel music. I decided to record the first of these songs and created my new CD called ‘The Promise.’ They are personal messages to be shared – messages of hope, joy, peace and love. Through the experience of cancer, I discovered my purpose in life, from this point in my life, for the duration - to use the Universal language of music - to inspire, heal, uplift, and to give unconditional love. That’s my story in a nutshell, what the music's about, and the reason for it.
Changes – I’m still learning at this point. I’m in a musical genre I know nothing about business-wise – inspirational/faith based. The music industry has changed so drastically over the last several years. Nothing is as it was, what with technology and streaming. So many people no longer have a CD player. A long-time friend of mine in Seattle heard clips of ‘The Promise’ on Facebook and bought the CD but had to go and find a player. A lot of people are just downloading or streaming. And the journey continues with how to get the music out there. It’s not about the money and sales. I feel the music was given to me in hopes of helping people get through difficult times, or just for inspiration.
Meanwhile life rolls on - Life on the shores of the ocean (in beautiful British Columbia, Canada) is peaceful, creative. My keyboard is in the office. and when I face my keyboard, I see Indian Arm. I can be there 24-7 when I’m into that mode, in my little studio. For example, if I go back to the CD, I wrote the lyrics and music, and actually sequenced the drums, piano, bass, and most of the strings, on my keyboard. I even wrote and recorded my first ever string arrangement. It’s on the song ‘My Prayer,’ the fourth on the CD. This is the song my Mum wrote as a poem when my step dad passed away. I felt it was time to be made public. A friend out of Calgary did the sequencing of all the other instruments beyond the four great rhythm section musicians and three background singers who are all out of Chicago.
Performing - The week before last I was with the Rochester Philharmonic. I have performed with the Dayton Ohio Philharmonic, Fort Worth Symphony, Florida and Dallas orchestras. Next, I go to Seattle, and the University of the Pacific in Stockton California, and their Pacific Jazz Ambassadors program where I’m the artist in residence for the school year. For the past 20 years it has been the home of the Dave Brubeck Institute.
Feeling blessed - What a great way to see the world - through music - to experience the world through music. Everything I have done in my life has led me to this point now – opened up MY whole world.
POST SCRIPT: At the time of publishing this article, March 22, 2020, Dee writes – “As you might imagine I've been trying to have smooth landings from all the cancellations of work. That includes cancelling three concerts of my own with the Marcus Mosely Chorale that were scheduled for May. It’s so disappointing after we've been working so hard to organizing them! We've been having beautifully sunny days in Indian Arm. It's even beginning to warm up! Once we adjusted our thinking (and accepted cancellations) it's turning out to be nice. I'm writing again and thinking up interesting and creative things to keep my mind occupied. It's like a blessing in disguise at this point.”
Meanwhile, daughter Dalana is now an established pastry and cake designer in Vancouver with her own business – The Cake and the Giraffe.. And husband Doug Fleming, who is a respected name in a very specialized brand of Real Estate Marketing for Real Estate Developers, made his studio debut as a background singer in a few measures of a song on ‘The Promise.’ Life in Indian Arm is good.
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A New Song
An interview article by Rosemary Phillips,
NOTE February 2012: I got a surprise phone call from Dee - she has been following her new song. She moved into a 'brown-stone' in New York City last fall and her life is certainly taking on new direction as she takes on new engagements in the city that never sleeps, continues her performances across North America and Europe, and gathers together material and musicians for her new recording project.
“This year has been one of reinventing myself,” says Dee Daniels, international jazz singer. After a guest appearance on CBC’s Hot Air and a feature performance of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music, a fundraiser for the First United Church in Vancouver, Dee was working at her home in North Vancouver, British Columbia, excitedly planning her next season. You see, besides her upcoming orchestral performances and tour of Europe, Dee is stepping into new music and new technology.
Her own song
“I’ve found my real passion,” she explains vehemently. “Creating my own music! It’s taken all these years for me to finally validate myself as a songwriter and now I’ve decided to record my music. It’s the music I write when I’m free, without having a musical agenda - the product of my entire musical experience – jazz, blues, gospel, R&B, rock and roll. I’m releasing it in a different way – two singles at a time - for electronic download only.”
Life steps in and changes things
What brought this realization about was an emotional experience this spring that forced Dee to face herself. “It was an interesting process,” she muses. “The first part was extremely painful, because I had to release any perceptions of self. Doing this required me going out of my comfort zone. I got through, then hit ground zero and was forced to think about what really brings me joy. I whittled away until I found it. I realized I had been like a ball in a pin-ball machine with someone else constantly pulling the lever. I was bouncing all over the place and had been for so long I didn’t even know I had lost focus. Some of the career choices I had been making didn’t have joy as the foundation, nor was joy the motivating factor for making them.”
Ellington’s Sacred Music
Now don’t get Dee wrong; this singer with the satin voice that has been heard around the world, still loves doing straight ahead jazz. This November was her second year for Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music concert, held in St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, to raise funds for the First United Church and their work in supporting homeless men and women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. “Ellington’s wish was to have these specific Sacred Music concerts held in churches,” explains Dee. “He said it was the most important work he had done in his career. He was at a point of reflection. His last concert in 1973 was just months before he passed away.”
In a program that featured a blend of gospel music, blues, choral music, spoken word, dance and big band jazz, Dee performed Heaven, It’s Freedom, Tell Me It’s the Truth, Come Sunday, and Praise God and Dance and Ellington’s gospel version of The Lord’s Prayer.
A busy year ahead
Dee has two new pops programs coming up, one with the Rochester Philharmonic in New York, and another with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut. For her tour in Europe (Holland, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and France) she’ll be doing concerts and special vocal workshops in music conservatories where she will demonstrate her Rose Breath and Numbered Activation techniques, guiding participants to accessing their entire vocal range, seamlessly and effortlessly.
Making a difference
Dee loves to inspire young and old alike through teaching, mentoring and by sharing her music and rich life experiences. “Sometimes it takes reaching mature years of life to acknowledge who we really are, to realize that we have something to share, to give to other people. My motivation is different now,” says Dee. “Thirty years ago I wanted to get out there and be a superstar. At this point in life I really want to share my music and make a positive difference in people’s lives. Sharing brings me so much joy.”
A thought-provoking year
Ah, you can tell Dee’s been doing some deep soul-searching. “We have the choice to be creative and productive until we take our last breath,” she adds. “There’s always the possibility to learn something new, to be re-inspired. It’s good now and then to get out of our comfort zone. If we don’t do it voluntarily, many times life presents situations that compel us to do so. It keeps the motion in our lives. Life is about movement and vibration on every single level. Sometimes we get a little stagnant. I know for myself, whenever that happens to me I go into Alfie mode; I ask myself, ‘What’s it all about?’ The answer is always, ‘There’s no movement in my life.’ The moment I take a step into something new I’m instantly out of that place. I’m inspired again. And when I’m inspired I can inspire others.”
Yes, it’s certainly been a thought-provoking year for Dee. “Sometimes when you are in the middle of it all, it doesn’t seem like you are achieving anything. I have to make myself stop sometimes to experience the NOW. But really, it’s been a pretty good year. This next year begins the manifestation of my goals and dreams created in 2010. The work I’ve done on myself this year has created a foundation that will see me through the next decade.”
A creative family
Meanwhile, as Dee undergoes her transformation she watches her daughter Dalana Fleming develop as a pastry chef, specializing in fantasy cake design, and creating her own business, The Cake and the Giraffe, serving the Greater Vancouver Region. Dee the mum says, “I’m really excited about that!”
The Daniels-Fleming household is a very artistic one where reality is created on a daily basis. While Dee occupies the computer for her keyboard, music, and organization of concerts, husband Doug steps in to work on a graphic project for his company, Sehemworks Enterprises Inc.
Dee adds. “It’s like when two-year-olds don’t know how to play together, they play next to each other. We call that parallel playing together.”
You can keep up-to-date with Dee’s recordings, concerts and tours by visiting Dee’s web site which is full of photos and videos.
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An interview article by Rosemary Phillips,
This interview was just the beginning. There is so much more to Dee Daniels, jazz singer, teacher, mother, wife, and all round great lady. The following just captures the bare essence of this remarkable woman in a short item to promote her Ray Charles, Soul of Ray concert. Behind the scenes is an artist passionate about sharing her knowledge and her life learnings. Watch for more information on her endeavours, workshops and recordings. Meanwhile, take a peak at Dee a remarkably talented singer who has sung with the greatest in the field and knows that music is a powerful healing energy.
Singer Dee Daniels has a great friend. “Jane Jarvis is 90 years old,” explains Dee with warmth and love in her voice. “She’s from New York, a petite pianist who used to be the original organist for the Milwaukee Braves. We met several years ago and she is one of my best friends. I consider her one of my mentors.” (This was 2006. Jane passed away in 2010 and is very much missed by Dee.)
Jane had been trying to reach Dee on the phone while she was being interviewed, and we paused for her to respond. “If I get to live that long, that’s exactly what I want to be doing, mentoring. I think one of my responsibilities as a human on this planet is to share, and it gives me real pleasure.”
With a performing career that spans 33 years of international travel, and opportunities to sing with many of the world’s greatest jazz musicians, Dee already has a life of incredible experience to draw from. “I feel extremely blessed. When you are doing something that you really enjoy, you share that joy, share the love. That’s really what I am about.”
That something is Dee’s greatest gift - her smooth four-octave voice and her performance. “I have met hundreds of people after performances who have told me how happy and grateful they were because when they came to the concert they were down-hearted, or were dealing with some kind of illness, but felt so uplifted at the end of the concert. I know there’s power in music. Even for myself. I let everything go before I walk out on stage, and I feel lifted and healed after I have finished.”
Dee grew up with Gospel music and blues but has a love for various genres, particularly jazz. “My personal style is a compilation of all that I heard when I was growing up. I think that’s one of the reasons why I get comments from the audience that it’s so soulful and emotional.”
Over the last number of years she has performed her own Pops program Great Ladies of Swing with symphony orchestras across Canada and the US. When planning a new program she was drawn to Ray Charles and her childhood memories. “I listened to a whole lot of Ray Charles while growing up in California. In the beginning of his career he sounded a lot like Nat Cole, one of his idols. But with his recording of I Got A Woman, he incorporated his Gospel roots and that sound lead him into the big-time. The rest is history.”
LINKS: For more information on her performances, CDs, classes and workshops visit Dee Daniel's web site..
NOTE: There are many more articles on this site about great musicians and artists - see Index of Articles.